In part four of a series of interviews with the cast of Rockville Little Theatre’s The Miracle Worker, meet Jordan Clifford.
Please introduce yourself and tell our readers where they may have seen you perform on the stage before. What roles did you play in these shows?
Hello! I’m Jordan Clifford. I am an actor, director, writer, editor, and musician that has been living in DC for a little over a year. Overnight I work at Discovery Communications as a media prep technician, and I spend the day telling stories that I love—on stage, on the page, or behind the camera. You may have seen me recently as Cousin Kevin in Kensington Arts Theater’s production of The Who’s Tommy, or as Peter Pan in Rockville Musical Theatre’s production of Shrek.
Why did you want to be part of the cast of The Miracle Worker?
I have been itching to do another straight play for three years now. I love musicals, but there is nothing quite like diving into a play and discovering nuances with every reading of the script. I couldn’t turn away from this opportunity to portray historical characters and discover their truth through the playwright’s words.
Who do you play in the show? How do you relate to him or her? What traits do you share? Does this character remind you of a similar character that you have played before?
I play James Keller, Helen’s pessimistic and indolent half-brother. James and I are both very quick-witted and sarcastic. Oftentimes I’ll joke around to make light of a serious situation in the same way that James’ comedic timing eases moments of tension. James is very similar to another older brother I had the chance of playing once—Stanley in Brighton Beach Memoirs. Although Stanley’s relationship to his younger sibling is much more brotherly than James is with Helen, both young men are in a constant struggle to please and earn the respect of their father.
What is The Miracle Worker about from the point of view of your character?
The Miracle Worker perfectly describes Annie Sullivan in the eyes of James Keller. While the obvious miracle is shown through her work with Helen, to James, the greatest miracle she performs is breaking through Captain Keller’s calloused exterior and convincing him to meet her demands.
What challenges have you had preparing for the role, and how did director Laura Andruski help you through these challenges? What was the best advice she gave you on how to play your role?
The greatest challenge is the accent—adjusting modern, southern twang to a more eloquent and genteel way of speaking. Laura bringing in a dialect coach has done wonders for me. The best advice she has given me so far is to slow down and not rush through my lines.
What is your favorite line or lines that your character says, and what is your favorite line that someone else says in the show?
My favorite line of James’ is, “Father stands, that makes it a fact.” Yes, James is being a smartass in this moment, but he’s also being honest about his perception of his father.
My favorite line of the entire show is not even spoken on stage. It’s a pre-recorded line: “It hurts to be dead. Forever.” I have no explanation for why this line is so funny to me, but I catch myself inappropriately laughing every time. I guess James’ immaturity is starting to rub off.
What does The Miracle Worker have to say to today’s audiences?
The Miracle Worker reminds today’s audiences that giving up is never an option. No matter how dark, bleak, or unfortunate the circumstance may be—giving up is simply not an option.
If you could change what happens to your character, what would you like to see happening to your character at the end of the play?
I would make James more empathetic towards Helen and give them a couple brother/sister moments by the end of the play.
Why should local theatergoers come and see The Miracle Worker?
I think they will be surprised at how often they find themselves laughing!
What advice would you give a young actor who is preparing to play your role in his/her school production of The Miracle Worker?
Put the cell phone down for a while and try to kill time without it. James tends to hang out on the front porch a lot. Try that out, see where your mind wanders.
What’s next for you on the stage?
Next month I will be shaving my head for Rockville Musical Theatre’s Dogfight at the Gaithersburg Arts Barn! Semper fi, do or die!
The Miracle Worker plays on weekends from February 3 through 12, 2017 at Rockville Little Theatre performing at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre – 603 Edmonston Drive, in Rockville, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (240) 314-8690 or purchase them online.
Interview: Meet the Cast of ‘The Miracle Worker’ at Rockville Little Theatre. Part 1: Meredith Abramson.
Interview: Meet the Cast of ‘The Miracle Worker’ at Rockville Little Theatre. Part 2: Lena Winter.
Interview: Meet the Cast of ‘The Miracle Worker’ at Rockville Little Theatre. Part 3: Brian Lyons-Burke.
Interview: Meet the Cast of ‘The Miracle Worker’ at Rockville Little Theatre. Part 4: Jordan Clifford.