First-Time Tony Nominee: Will Chase is insanely entertaining as John Jasper in ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’

Will Chase in "The Mystery of Edwin Drood."

Will Chase in “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.”

After nearly 15 years on Broadway, Will Chase has finally been nominated for a Tony Award. He is nominated “Best Featured Actor in a Musical” for his role as John Jasper in this season’s revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

The revival of Drood opened to generally favorable reviews in November. The show’s all-star cast also received a fair amount of attention from the critics. One said, “The best part of the show is watching the first-rate cast have so much fun.” Through their hilarious telling of Charles Dickens’ final story, the cast of Drood danced through the audience and even sat amongst them, leading their patrons on a journey back to the days of Victorian England.

One of the standout members of the cast was Chase as the simultaneously hilarious and terrifying John Jasper, the uncle to the title character. His performance of the song “A Man Could Go Quite Mad” is uproariously funny as Jasper chats with himself about his insanity. However, Chase was just as good at portraying the darker sides of Jasper. Chase did a brilliant job at showing the transformation of Jasper throughout the story as he sinks deeper into his madness and opium addiction. He was particularly frightening as Jasper relentlessly pursued his young lover, Rosa Bud, and ultimately confesses to Edwin Drood’s murder. In a role that, in the wrong hands, could easily be overacted, Chase found a balance between both sides of the coin of John Jasper.

Chase has proven himself to be a versatile actor throughout his time on Broadway, starring in many blockbuster musicals such as Miss Saigon and Rent. He has also been in several short-lived musicals such as Lennon, The Story of My Life and High Fidelity. Throughout his theatre career, Chase has not limited himself to one type of role, starring in everything from classic musicals (like Drood) to rock operas.

He has also made numerous guest appearances on the small screen in shows like Rescue Me and Pan Am. Most recently, he starred as Michael Swift on Smash. While Michael, an up-and-coming actor and adulterer, might have not been well-liked by some fans of the series, Chase brought life to his character’s otherwise unstable storyline. Being on Smash also provided Chase with a chance to sing to a larger audience, belting out the heartbreaking tune “On Lexington and 52nd Street” and causing fans to swoon in “History is Made at Night.”

Shortly after the Tonys, his latest film, Butterflies of Bill Baker will premiere at the Manhattan Film Festival. In the film, Chase plays the title role of Bill Baker, a man who is driven to commit terrible acts of violence because of his night terrors, which, admittedly, sounds similar to his now Tony-nominated role in Drood.

The race for “Best Featured Actor” may be tight this year, as Chase is contending with actors from shows with numerous nominations. Chase is certainly in the running for the award because of how well loved his turn in Drood was. Either way, this isn’t the last we’ll hear of this incredibly talented actor and here’s hoping we see him back at the Tonys in the near future!

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