An Electric Talent with Infectious Energy— Robert Anthony Jones Is Crushin’ It!

By Kimberly Dijkstra

 

Robert Anthony Jones likes to tell the story of how he first got involved in theatre. In sixth grade, his sister, a senior at Islip High School, invited him to audition for “Oliver!” the musical, as a fun activity for them to do together before she went off to college. He was cast as an orphan in the ensemble. The director told his mom he couldn’t be Oliver because he was “too healthy looking.”

No one ever questioned why he wasn’t ‘too healthy looking’ to be Oliver’s understudy.

Jones, or RAJ as he goes by, went on to get a BFA in Theatre Arts at Hofstra University and made his Broadway debut in “Finding Neverland” at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. With about 30 friends and members of his family in the audience, that night is one of the most memorable moments in his career.

“There is just no feeling that was like that. It’s kind of difficult to describe, but I was exactly in the place I had always dreamed about since I started in sixth grade,” RAJ said.

Hearing his family cheer for him, signing autographs at the stage door, and going for a drink with friends at Joe Allen down the block made it the most “magical night.”

In addition to his time on Broadway and off-Broadway, the actor has toured nationally and internationally with several well-known shows and brings his talents to regional theatres around the country, including his home turf of Long Island.

“I love coming back and doing what I do for people who know me, who I’ve grown up with, who I went to school with, they all come out and see the shows,” he said. “To be someone who grew up on Long Island and to come back and perform for the community is a special thing.”

During the holidays in 2021, RAJ starred as Santa and Mr. Greenway in “Elf the Musical” at The Argyle Theatre in Babylon Village, and was kind enough to do a Q&A with a group of drama students from Brentwood High School, facilitated by the theatre and Islip Arts Council.

“Anyplace where I can talk about myself I love,” he joked, but the event meant a lot to the kids. “I love to talk to kids because they have this excitement, and love, and drive for it. That’s really exciting for me to see, because I used to be like that, and I still am.”

Having attained his Broadway dreams, he can speak first hand about dreams coming true.

“It’s always cool to go back and talk about that and say, you know, your dreams can absolutely come true,” he said. “You can’t dream big enough in my opinion.”

“Elf” was RAJ’s first time back on stage following the pandemic that shut down live theatre everywhere for nearly two years. During that time, he was able to film a virtual production of “Kris Kringle the Musical,” which brought a lot of holiday cheer to viewers at home. He also started a play-reading group with friends, taught some remote classes, and, most life-changing of all, adopted a son with his husband.

Getting back to performing, with “Elf” and then “Something Rotten!” at Pioneer Theatre Company in Salt Lake City, renewed RAJ’s appreciation for his craft, something many actors experienced.

“It brought us back to the love of what we do,” he said. “Coming back and really being grateful for the ability to do this again, that’s what I felt…Going to rehearsals and performances and tech, I was really present for all of it because I was just so excited to be there.”

Looking forward, RAJ is open to whatever the universe throws his way, excited by the possibilities and opportunities to make people laugh.

With everything going on in the world, he said, “It’s nice to be able to bring joy to people.”

Keep up with RAJ on Facebook, Instagram @justcallmeraj, and Twitter @justcallmeraj.

 



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