“Chalk One Up for Jones”
That kid! Where did you find that kid? We’ve got news folks. That kid in Mud Blue Sky, he ain’t a kid. Maybe we shouldn’t give away our secret and really, it’s not much of a secret since he’s been on stage around San Diego quite a bit lately, but for many of our audiences, J. Tyler Jones is a new face. Whether or not they knew him before, the critics are in love.
“Making his debut at Moxie, Jones is the most adorably innocent pot dealer you’ll ever see… he, like the rest of this terrific cast, is funny and completely at ease…”-San Diego City Beat
“Chalk one up for Jones and his ability to hold his own with this trio of acting powerhouses. Jones’ Jonathan comes on as charming, confident, even hard-nosed…”-SDGLN.com
“J. Tyler Jones strikes a nice balance between a veneer of cool control and baffled innocence underneath.”-San Diego Reader”
A newcomer to San Diego, Jones has been seen mostly in dramatic roles locally, but his boyish, sweet-natured performance here showcases his versatility.”– UT San Diego
“Jones…an expressive and generous young artist, who conveys depth and naiveté simultaneously.”– San Diego Uptown News
MOXIE fell in love with J. Tyler Jones in an elevator. Well, that statement is almost true. MOXIE first worked with him when he was cast in a play that took place in an elevator, Counterweight by Jennifer Barclay Newsham, MOXIE’s co-production with the La Jolla Playhouse for the Without Walls Festival. He found his way off the elevator and into MOXIE’s Mud Blue Sky and audiences and critics agree that he’s irresistible as the young pot dealer in Marisa Wegrzyn‘s hit comedy playing now at MOXIE Theatre. We caught up with him between shows to learn more about this kid who as it turns out, is a fully grown man who plays the hell out of his teenage role.
What shows have you done recently in San Diego that MOXIE audience may have seen you in?
Most recently I was in Macbeth at Intrepid Shakespeare. Over the past year or so I also performed in Counterweight (as part of La Jolla Playhouse’s WoW Festival), Blackout on Battery Cliff (as part of Scripps Ranch Theatre’s Out on a Limb Festival), Accomplice: San Diego (in Little Italy as part of LJP’s WoW Series), and Punk Rock (ion). I also understudied and went on for three performances of Shakespeare’s R&J at Cygnet. I’ve done a number of staged readings in the past few months including Holy Name, which was done at Moxie; Tranquil, a part of LJP’s DNA Series; and The Island and Opposite Togetherness, both part of Playwright’s Project’s Plays by Young Writers Festival at The Old Globe.
How are you like your character in Mud Blue Sky? How are you different?
I’m playing someone who is almost ten years younger than me, so he’s pretty different in that sense. But in a lot of ways I think I was pretty similar to Jonathan in high school. I was kind of artsy (though I did theatre, I could never draw like he does), not entirely lacking in self-confidence, but pretty clueless when it came to girls. I certainly didn’t gain the ability he has to go with the flow until I was out of college. That’s one of the really great things about Jonathan. Sometimes he shows some immaturity, but he really is older than his years a lot of the time. Jonathan carries a lot more weight than I ever have had to. He’s dealt with loss and feeling responsibility for others to a much higher degree than my own experience.
What have you learned during the rehearsal and production process?
Being on stage with this group is like taking a master class in comedic timing, so that’s been a fantastic learning experience for me. But I’ve also had to learn to roll a joint, and that’s a pretty important life skill I was missing. I feel like I’ve filled a gap in my education from college.
What is the hardest moment in the show for you to not break character and laugh?
There are a lot, but probably the most difficult is when I rush out of the bathroom to answer my phone. I’m already laughing back stage because of what’s going on leading up to it, and then that moment is just perfect. I always have to remind myself before going on to stop smiling.
What made you want to be a part of this production?
For one thing, it’s always great to work with a company that has a reputation for not pulling punches in their shows. But with this particular production, I just thought it seemed like a chance to do some really fun things on stage while also bringing to life a character that has so much going on underneath the surface. Before I even auditioned I was reading through the script and thinking, “Man, I really want to say those words…ooh, that moment would be really challenging…hey! I want to make a Sprite explode all over somebody!” That’s how I know a rehearsal process is going to be a fun time, when I get giddy about what I’m going to be doing just from reading the script.
What is most surprising to you about the play?
When I started reading the play for the first time I knew pretty quickly that it was going to be funny, but I didn’t realize how much heart it had. I think that’s one thing this play does incredibly well. It sneaks up on you with its messages. Things are moving along and everybody is laughing and having a good time and then suddenly you realize some of the things that these people are going through and you can’t believe you were laughing at them a moment before. It’s beautiful.
Come see J. Tyler Jones in Mud Blue Sky playing now-June 8, 2014 at MOXIE Theatre. Tickets available at http://www.moxietheatre.com/mudbluesky or call 858-598-7620