Wexler, now based in Toronto, looks back fondly on many influences. “It goes all the way to Original Kids when I was in St. Thomas,” he says of the days when that program was based at its Alma College site in the early 1990s. He was also with Original Kids productions at its venues in Museum London and the Grand’s McManus Theatre.
In the summer of 1995, Jon was 10 and a pirate in the Original Kids production of The Pirates of Penzance at the McManus directed by Don Fleckser. The next summer he was at the Stratford Festival in The Music Man. The summer after that, he was in the Amabile boys’ choir, rehearsing for a Canada Day gig in Ottawa before the Queen.
There were also the Grand’s High School Project productions of Hello Dolly and Guys and Dolls. There was Lost in Yonkers, a London Community Production directed by Fleckser. More recently, he was at the Grand in It’s a Wonderful Life, directed by Bernard Hopkins.
Former Grand artistic director Kelly Handerek, who knew Wexler through the High School Projects, was also in the cast. “An amazing experience,” Wexler says. “Working with Bernard Hopkins was an incredible gift.”
Wexler quietly asked Handerek to look over his application to study theatre at the Juilliard School in New York. Handerek could see the seriousness of Wexler’s approach to the craft. “It’s an anomaly in a world where a sense of entitlement reigns,” Handerek says. “I wonder what kinds of theatres he will create, not just be a part of.”
When the Doodlebops called, it put theatre school on hold but still makes time to study with William.
Name: Jonathan Wexler
Pictures of Jon:
1996 – The Music Man
Nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical
2000 – Guys and Dolls
2001 – Hello, Dolly
2002 – Oliver!
2004 – It’s a Wonderful Life