Pebblebrook graduate to be featured in ‘Memphis’
by Davia L. Mosley
dmosley@mdjonline.com
January 24, 2012 12:00 AM | 2687 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
‘Memphis,’ the 2010 Tony Award recipient for Best Musical, will be at the Fox Theatre from Jan. 31 to Feb. 4 and features Jody Reynard, an Austell native who graduated from Pebblebrook High School in 1994 and Kennesaw State University in 1998. <br>Special/Paul Kolnik
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From Pebblebrook High School to the Broadway stage, Austell native Jody Reynard has been able to live out his dream of being a professional performer. He will return to Georgia to perform in “Memphis,” the 2010 Tony Award-winner for Best Musical, beginning Jan. 31 at 8 p.m.

Reynard said his time in the Cobb County Center for Excellence in the Performing Arts more than prepared him for life as a performer. He said, “It totally primed me. It gave me an unbelievable work ethic. It was insanely instrumental in making me the performer I am today.”

He recalls his time at CCCEPA and said they wore pins with 110 percent on them as a reminder of how hard students should work and to serve as motivation. Other graduates on Broadway include Cary Tedder, Cody Williams, Justin Patterson and Colt Prattes.

After graduating from PHS in 1994, Reynard went to Kennesaw State University to study theater. While in college, he worked with Theater of the Stars at the Fox Theatre and performed in shows such as “Purlie” and “Fiddler on the Roof.”

“That exposed me really to professional theater there,” he said. “There it was, right in my own backyard at the Fox Theatre downtown.”

After graduating in 1998, he returned to the Fox Theatre and performed in “Camelot.” With this show, he was also able to tour.

After getting a taste of being on the road, Reynard decided to try his luck in New York. Less than two weeks later, he landed a regional gig and was able to find an affordable apartment in February 1999. He said, “The blessings just laid in front of me, and I just scooped them up.”

His Broadway debut was in “Fosse,” which won a Tony Award that same year. Reynard said, “My first night on Broadway was overwhelming.” The role called for stylistic and technical dancing, something he had no experience with prior to rehearsals.

“And there I was, just a 23-year-old, with my derby hat and I was just raring to go,” he said. “It was just a big blur. I remember afterwards, just almost tearing up. There I was in my Broadway debut in a Tony Award-winning show. It was amazing.”

Reynard has also performed in shows such as “Legally Blonde” and “Saturday Night Fever,” and next week, audiences will be able to see his talents on display in “Memphis.” According to www.memphisthemusical.com, actual events were the inspiration for the story of a white radio DJ and a black club singer in the 1950s. The show runs Jan. 31 to Feb. 4. Visit www.foxtheatre.org for more information and to purchase tickets.

Reynard is part of the ensemble and an understudy for “Gator,” but said he will also be performing multiple roles. He lauds the show’s music, costumes, choreography and visual design.

“I think it’s just a great show. Audiences across the country have been loving it,” he said. “I’m sure the audiences will definitely respond to its story and music.”

Although his main focus is musical theater, Reynard has also worked in television on shows such as “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” “Rosie Live!” “One Life to Live” and “Show Business: The Road to Broadway.” However, one opportunity involved one of the biggest names in entertainment: Oprah Winfrey.

Reynard had worked previously with Rosie O’Donnell and said that connection led him to perform on Winfrey’s farewell show. He knew O’Donnell through working on “Taboo,” a Broadway play she produced with singer Boy George, and Reynard had also appeared on her variety show, “Rosie Live.”

During the time when officials for the Oprah Winfrey Network were meeting with investors and advertisers, Reynard performed with O’Donnell and other dancers. He said, “Oprah just loved it.”

A suggestion for the group to take part in Winfrey’s farewell show turned in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Reynard. “It was a spectacular moment. It was a magical time,” he said. I was so thrilled to be a part of that. It’s a part of television history. I’m glad I got to do it.” In addition to performing, Reynard met and talked with Dr. Oz and saw celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Jamie Foxx, Tom Hanks, Will and Jada Smith and Maria Shriver.

Regarding the future, Reynard said, “In anything that I get to do, my goal is just to always do good work and to be a person that others want to work with again.”

His advice to current students? “Hard work and dedication in any aspect of life is always going to pay off. If you just put your nose to the grindstone and just believe in what you want and know that you have the ability to achieve it, then that’s always going to help,” he said.

“More specifically as a performer, you have to really know yourself, know what your strengths are, know what your weaknesses are, and accept them and don’t let anyone else tell you no,” he continues. “You have to believe in those talents that you have, and you have to fight to prove people wrong. If you believe you can do this part, prove it.”
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