Alumni Plaza the center of the Dowagiac campus


Marcus Jordan

Marcus Jordan grew up in Grand Rapids

Coby Henslee

Coby Henslee

Erica Atwood

Erica Atwood

Matt Hickok

Matt Hickok

Alicia Ferguson with Emily Potter

Alicia Ferguson with Emily Potter (seated)

Terryn Williams

Terryn Williams

Marcus Jordan Directing SMC’s Cabaret Nov. 12

Published on November 14, 2022 - 10 a.m.

Marcus Jordan’s debut with Southwestern Michigan College’s performing arts team will be Nov. 12’s fall cabaret, “Becoming: A Musical Theatre Song Cycle,” at 7:30 p.m. in the theatre of the Dale A. Lyons Building on the Dowagiac campus.

This free public performance explores the dynamic process of transformation through songs, from golden-age musicals to contemporary blockbusters.

An eight-member cast embarks on a storytelling journey illustrating the inevitable human experience of change.

Jordan, who returned home to Grand Rapids from New York City Dec. 3, 2020, in the spring will direct the musical “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” Next summer he’ll guide “Les Miserables” in conjunction with SMC’s Summer Institute Musical Theatre Camp.

Jordan, who has degrees in voice performance and vocal pedagogy from Western Michigan University and Westminster Choir College in New Jersey, said, “The cabaret was my way of meeting the artistry of the SMC Fine Arts Department, and for them to meet mine. Sort of an artistic meet-and-greet.

“The primary focus of the cabaret/song cycle genre is storytelling,” said Jordan, who invited all eight artists to “personally connect with the song lyrics they are communicating. To share something about themselves with the audience through their song selection instead of portraying a character. One of the pillars to good storytelling, in my opinion, is transparency. That is what we are exploring in this intimate show.”

Jordan said the audience will “hear a little bit of everything,” with tunes from West Side Story, The Color Purple, Oklahoma, tick,tick...BOOM   and Godspell. “Folks are bound to walk away humming a few new and familiar songs.”

Of “the inevitable human experience of change,” Jordan said, “As we see, hear and feel things we question, we believe, we take action. Every experience we have alters our point of view and/or leads/points us to a discovery. The cycle of knowing and not knowing that every human has.”

Jordan, who attended Grand Rapids Christian High School, is new to southwest Michigan, “but I have truly enjoyed working with (Director of Choral Studies) David (Carew), (collaborative pianist) Chris (Seitz), (choreographer) Liz (Baumann) and all of the brilliant young artists. David was looking for a theatre professional to assist with the 2022-23 program. A mutual friend of ours recommended me. David and I spoke several times this summer and our artistic values and mission seemed aligned, so here I am!”

“I am so very thrilled to have Marcus join the performing arts team,” Carew said. “I am deeply appreciative of his artistic vision and commitment to storytelling. I know he will bring a compelling professional, unique and thoughtful approach that will provide a heightened collaborative experience for our students and community.”

After attending WMU from 2005-09 and Westminster in 2009-11, Jordan moved to New York in 2013 and worked for DreamYard Project from 2014-19 as a teaching artist/music curriculum developer.

While in NYC, he worked professionally as an actor with Theatre Aspen, Music Theatre Factory, Virginia Rep and Merry-go Round Playhouse, now called The Rev Theatre. He made his Joe’s Pub debut in March 2020.

This past season he co-directed “Rent” and “Little Shop of Horrors” at Circle Theatre Grand Rapids and looks forward to directing “Once on This Island” this fall in collaboration with Grand Rapids Civic Theatre.

Some recent regional acting credits include “Ragtime” (Coalhouse Walker/Booker T. Washington), “Parade” (Newt Lee) and “Rent” (Benny Coffin III).

Early influences Brian Stokes Mitchell and Norm Lewis had “warm leading man baritone voices, large presences and commanding energy that I hoped to embody once I came of age,” Jordan said. “My heroes growing up were my mom and my grandmothers. They taught me that giving honestly and freely can bring you joy beyond measure. They had a love for humankind that struck me at a young age. A strong sense of care. I aim to be like them every day.”

“My mom said I cried nonstop as a baby,” he said, “so she’s known since birth! I’ve always loved telling stories to ANYONE who would listen! But it was in high school, participating in a musical, that I knew I had found my calling. Those folks are still my friends today. Also, I learned that I had something to say to and about the world. Building community and telling stories that illuminate the human condition so that we think critically is my purpose. Holding up a mirror to humankind is my mission.”