Talking With Jordan Aragon (Lefou) about Beauty and the Beast

Beauty-and-the-Beast 75What we always say about Lefou is it isn’t that he’s stupid, but it just takes him a bit longer to process things.

Beauty-and-the-Beast 500

The ever-popular family musical Beauty and the Beast returns to The Fabulous Fox Theatre on Nov. 1 for a one-weekend stand. Opening night is also “Kids Night” beginning at 6 p.m. and there will be activities in the lobby and onstage designed for children. Children under 17 can be admitted free with the purchase of an adult ticket for certain sections of the theatre. Visit foxtheatre.org for more information.

Meanwhile, I got to chat a bit with Jordan Aragon, 23, a recent college graduate who is traveling with the company in the role of “Lefou,” the comic sidekick to the blowhard Gaston who is the Beast’s rival for Belle’s (Beauty) heart. Here’s what he had to say.

I like (Beauty and the Beast) and have seen it several times. Your part has to be fun to play.

Oh, it is. Very fun.

Let’s start with some background. Where are you from?

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay area in a little town called Fremont [California], and I started doing gymnastics and sports when I was little, but it was when I joined choir that I decided musical theatre was the path I wanted to follow. Once that happened, it soon led into actually performing in some musicals, and I really caught the bug, so I was off to the races.

What age were you when you started choir.

Fourth grade.

Really young.

Oh, absolutely. I had the opportunity to work with the San Francisco Symphony and Opera through my choirs, which was an awesome experience because I got introduced to a really grand version of what being on stage is like. The San Francisco Opera puts on these elaborate productions with sets that are even grander than I’ve ever seen (anywhere), and I knew that was the level of production I wanted to be a part of.

Did you have singing roles as a child or were you older?

I did. I was understudy for a trio of boys (in one opera) and then once I started performing in musical theatre, Once Upon a Mattress was my first (musical) at my junior high school, and I played the Minstrel.

Any other memorable productions from junior high or high school?

Well, when I was in high school, I played Cogsworth (a rather stuffy mantel clock) in a production of Beauty and the Beast. That was my introduction to the stage version of the show. I grew up watching the animated version on VHS and wore it out (laughs).

I’ll bet you didn’t think back then that it wouldn’t be too long until you’d actually be in a touring company.

You know, it was a dream at that time. But, no, I didn’t (expect it).

What’s your post-secondary school training?

I went to UCLA for musical theatre and got my B.A. I moved to New York right after graduation and within a few months, I had my audition for this, and then it happened!

That doesn’t happen every day, as you well know.

I do.

I noticed from your resume that you’re also a member of Phi Beta Kappa (the oldest, most prestigious academic honorary fraternity in the U.S.).

Yeah! I really do enjoy academics very much, and that’s also part of the reason I chose UCLA as a school.

Among what you’ve done, professional or non-professional, do you have a favorite role?

I really love physical comedy and that was a skill set that I really think helped me get the part of Lefou. I loved playing Cosmo Brown in Singin’ in the Rain. I’d grown up watching Donald O’Connor walk up the wall, use the planks, and play with that dummy doll in “Make ‘Em Laugh,” and that was the type of comedy I enjoy doing. Donald O’Connor is one of my role models.

I did see a YouTube video of you singing “Cubicle of Love,” and it’s hilarious. It does seem that you are a natural comic.

That is something I totally enjoy — making people laugh — and it just so happens that this role allows a lot of room for that. (The character) Gaston and I have a lot of comic bits where he’s hitting me and absently mindedly running into my fists or vice versa or he’s dropping stuff on my feet and so on.

I think the love story is a bit “heavy” for some children, and they really do seem to enjoy the comedy between Gaston and Lefou.

Absolutely. What we always say about Lefou is it isn’t that he’s stupid, but it just takes him a bit longer to process things. Ideas dawn on him after the audience has already caught what’s going on.

Is this your first trip on the road?

This is my first tour.

When did you start?

We started in August with rehearsals, then opened in September, and we’ll be out for nine months total, so this is only our second month out.

Do you like it being on the road?

I do! The show is fun to perform every night, and the whole cast really enjoys the production itself because it’s just so beautiful. It’s a treat to be able to watch the numbers we aren’t in because there’s so much talent up there, not just in the leads and supporting actor, but also the ensemble. They really make the whole thing pop.

It’s also a joy to go to different cities and see what each has to offer. Museums are some of my favorite places to go in each place and exploring foods, the local cuisines.

Have you been to St. Louis before?

I have not. We won’t have much time, but I hope to at least make it to the City Museum.

Are you making some longer stops?

Oh, sure. We’ll be in San Francisco for 2 ½ weeks over the holidays.

How do you handle your nerves onstage?

You don’t ever NOT have nerves, but when you know your material and have confidence in it, the extra adrenaline just amps you up to go on stage.

What are your ambitions, like what would the ideal career of Jordan Aragon look like? Is that your real name by the way?

It is my real name.

That’s amazing. It’s the best stage name I’ve ever heard! (We laugh). But back to my question. . .

I’d love to just have a healthy performing career. If that includes Broadway and continuing to do musical theatre that would be living the dream. But any type of new project I can collaborate on with friends would be fun too.

Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you?

I think that might be it. Come see the show! | Andrea Braun

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