Since completing MacEwan University’s theatre arts diploma in 2011, Jordan Mah has been a full-time actor. While completing his diploma at MacEwan, he was a part of two musical-comedy productions, High Society and Company, playing the Butler and Larry, respectively. He first considered acting as a career in Grade 12, when asked a simple, yet thoughtful question: “Can you picture yourself being happy doing anything else? Because if so, then do that.” His response: “I truly couldn’t think of anything else I would rather do for a career.”
One perk that Mah’s career has given him is the opportunity to visit different places for work. He recalls performing at the Charlottetown Festival in Prince Edward Island in 2018 as one example, saying, “I can honestly say I never had the itch to go to PEI, but after spending a summer there I found out what a magical gem the island is.” There can also be whirlwind moments, such as in 2017 when he received a callback for the Broadway revival of Miss Saigon during previews for West Side Story at Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre. After one rehearsal in Edmonton, he hopped on a flight to New York City, performed his callback, then returned immediately to Alberta for his next rehearsal, calling it, “one of the wildest travel journeys I’ve had.”
Now, Mah still makes the trip to Stratford, Ont. for the annual Stratford Festival, though this year’s programming was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the now called-off 2020 edition, he was to appear in a production of Broadway classic Chicago as the Clerk. He was also set to appear in the world premiere performance of Here’s What It Takes, a Canadian-penned musical journey.
In terms of shows he hopes to perform in the future, it’s Chicago that remains as the one that got away for the time being. “We were literally just about to have our first preview when everything shut down and I just want to share the brilliant work we created.” While a return date to the theatre is still up in the air, Mah hopes that it will be sooner rather than later, saying, “hopefully, live shows can figure out a way to come back stronger than ever, as I feel the world needs it.” Nevertheless, he emphasizes that it will take a collective effort before this can occur.
Catapulting those with dreams of the stage towards their careers, the theatre arts diploma at MacEwan is a two-year program that specializes in the study of musical theatre. Thanks to the myriad new facilities in Allard Hall that have been introduced in the time since Mah’s graduation, new thespian hopefuls can train and study using state-of-the-art equipment for performances in Allard Hall’s Triffo Theatre. An important part of any show, however, is something that cannot be bought, that being the camaraderie between castmates. “Secret handshakes, funny moments that you always do before you go on for a certain scene, those are the rituals I Iive for,” says Mah.