About Jonathan Rayson
Jonathan Rayson was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, and got a very early start in the entertainment industry making singing appearances with his father's cover band when he was only seven years old. Throughout Jonathan's school years, his parents and various supportive teachers encouraged him to develop his gift for performance in numerous plays and competitions. During his junior year at Central High School, he landed his first non-school theater role at the nationally-known Omaha Community Playhouse and after graduation became a professional actor with the Upstairs Dinner Theater in Omaha. After three seasons with the Upstairs, Jonathan had his first touring experience in a production of Nebraska Theatre Caravan's long-standing holiday tradition A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
Very shortly thereafter, he moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he spent several years working with such Twin Cities' theatrical companies as the Ordway Center for Performing Arts, Park Square Theatre, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, Illusion Theater, North Star Opera, Theater Latté Da and Minnesota Festival Theater.
Jonathan's solo cabaret career then began in 1998 when friend, Paul Herb, proposed that he put a half-hour show together for an intimate dinner party. Finding a new freedom and excitement in this new-to-him musical art form, he subsequently mounted a very successful first solo show in Minneapolis called AN EVENING OF MAGICAL SONG. After that, Jonathan was featured on Dan Chouinard's "The Singer's Voice," an autobiographical music series which was broadcast live on Twin Cities' jazz radio station KBEM-FM.
In 1999, Jonathan was selected from nationwide auditions to be one of 23 students to attend the Cabaret Symposium at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center, a nine-day intensive foray into the art of cabaret performance. After his triumpant "graduation" show, he was invited by Michael Kerker of ASCAP to perform for his first New York audience at the New York Cabaret Convention in ASCAP PRESENTS: STANDARDS FOR A NEW GENERATION, an evening celebrating contemporary composers and featuring such well-known singers as Andrea Marcovicci, Liz Callaway, Donna Murphy and Karen Morrow. In January of 2000, he mounted his critically acclaimed solo show, ALCHEMY OF THE HEART (directed by Broadway veteran Sally Mayes) at the Firebird Cafe in the heart of the Manhattan theatre district. After that, Jonathan was asked by Ms. Marcovicci to be her special guest performer in the historic Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel.
At that point, Jonathan had his mind set on larger goals, and one of his last jobs in Minneapolis afforded him the opportunity to pursue them. While understudying all three men's roles in the The Children's Theatre Company's new theatrical development A YEAR WITH FROG AND TOAD, he learned that the show would be moving to the Great White Way. Jonathan excitedly made the big move to New York City to understudy the show on Broadway. On May 16, 2003, when fellow actor Jay Goede's appendix unfortunately and unexpectedly burst, Jonathan made his Broadway debut as Frog (opposite Mark Linn-Baker's Toad) at the Cort Theater and performed the role for two weeks.
After three-time Tony Award nominated FROG AND TOAD's brief run, Jonathan landed his second Broadway role as the understudy for Seymour Krelbourn and Orin the sadistic dentist in the first-ever Broadway production of LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS. He went on numerous times in his dream role of Seymour, and when the show closed in August of 2004 and plans were being made for a national tour, Jonathan was cast in the leading role and toured for most of 2005.
Jonathan's first solo CD, entitled "Shiny and New," comprised of cover songs from the mid-1970's, released on April 11, 2006. Because he gravitates primarily to lyrically-driven music, Jonathan chose to record songs by over a dozen famous songwriters like James Taylor, Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Billy Joel, John Denver and more.
Jonathan has been featured in numerous concerts, and showcases in the New York area. He has appeared in several Off-Broadway productions, including Christopher Durang's ADRIFT IN MACAO, The York Theatre's THAT TIME OF THE YEAR, and he was in the closing company of the long-running hit I LOVE YOU, YOU'RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE. In 2009, he toured with the 1st National Tour of LEGALLY BLONDE: THE MUSICAL.
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