Most performers have a dream role, but not many actually get the opportunity to ever play it. Jaclyn De Vincentis is about to do just that when she takes to the stage as Jen in the emotionally charged musical John & Jen. De Vincentis first came across John & Jen online, by chance, when preparing for another show. She listened to the music and immediately became obsessed with it. If people asked what her dream role was, she’d always answer Jen in John & Jen, despite the fact most people had no idea what she was talking about.
While John & Jen does have a small cult following, De Vincentis anticipates many of the audience members coming along to see the show, when it opens at Melbourne’s Chapel Off Chapel this week, will not be familiar with it. This does offer the advantage that audiences won’t have any preconceived ideas of the show, but De Vincentis also knows she will then become their image of Jen. It’s very much like originating a role in a new production.
John & Jen is described as “an intimate musical about connections, commitments and the healing of the human heart. It explores the complexities of relationships between brothers and sisters and parents and children, set against the background of a changing America between 1950 and 1990”.
De Vincentis describes her character of Jen as “amazing”. At her core, Jen is independent and fiercely loyal, even to the detriment of herself. She is strong-willed but unconditionally loving. In the first act the audience will see Jen the sister and her journey of looking after herself and her brother, then finally finding freedom and searching for her identity away from home. In act two, Jen has grown up and is now a mother.
Despite not having any of her own children, the mother Jen is the part of her character De Vincentis relates to the best. She considers herself to be a very protective/motherly big sister to her younger brother. To further assist in her preparation for the role she talked to her own mother and found a lot of herself there.
Playing opposite De Vincentis, as John, is Brenton Cosier. While De Vincentis simply has to age through the course of the show, Cosier plays two distinct characters: John the brother and then John the son. He regards John the brother as being rather naïve and looking for someone to guide him in life, while John the son is chilled, laid back, very switched on and wise beyond his years. John the son is the one Cosier can best identify with. Playing two distinct characters is a huge challenge for any performer, but one that Cosier is loving.
Both De Vincentis and Cosier have loved the intense rehearsal period and mastering the intricate score. Cosier says it’s the most challenging musical work he has performed. The show, John & Jen, is one they believe will appeal to a wide audience, describing it as a very real and very natural piece. It’s also a unique opportunity to see this rarely staged musical.
De Vincentis summed up the message of the show as being: The greatest way to honour those you have lost is to live, if they can’t.
John & Jen opens at Chapel Off Chapel on Friday 18th September and plays until Sunday 27th September.
Presented by Pursued By Bear,
John & Jen at Chapel off Chapel,
12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran from Friday 18 until Sunday 27 September 2015,
Thursday to Saturday, 8.00pm, Sunday 5pm; Saturday 19 September, 2pm matinee.
Tickets: $39.00 full, $35.00 concession.
Bookings: 03 8290 7000 chapeloffchapel.com.au