Gregory Jbara might not be cold and stubborn like Jackie Elliot, the role he won a Tony for in Billy Elliot, but they both have families that are separated by work and dreams. In the musical, Jackie’s son Billy yearns to enroll in the Royal Ballet School in London, while conversely, Jbara’s Billy commitments keep him in New York while his wife and two sons reside year-round in Los Angeles. After a three-month sabbatical from the show in LA where he spent time with his family, Jbara returned to Billy in April with renewed energy and new plans for his Billy future. The film and commercial actor sat down with Stage Rush to discuss balancing work and family, morphing Billy actors, and being mobbed by Robert Pattinson’s groupies.
Do you get to go back to Los Angeles and see your family often?
I don’t. We iChat every night. When they’re on vacation from school, they come to New York. Although, my producers have been very generous. I just extended for another nine months, which will be announced soon I imagine. They’ve given me almost one week off every month to go back home. Being away from my family—it’s lousy. It’s absolutely lousy.
Being that you live so far from your kids and you play a father in Billy Elliot, does that affect your performance at all, make it more emotional? Does it become an advantage?
On a daily basis, it doesn’t really influence what I do. There are some nights, like the day before my family arrives or the evening I say goodbye to them, I find that my own personal reality kind of creeps into the performance at times, especially around Dad’s song. But for the most part, the reality of the characters and the show is based on imagination and fiction. Read more