15 Questions in 15 Minutes with Broadway’s Jesse JP Johnson

Originally from Colorado, Jesse JP Johnson has been racking up his non-stop “fifteen minutes of fame” by doing professional musical theater since he was ten, then leaving home for NYC at the age of seventeen. The multi-talented actor, singer, and songwriter, (and licensed barber!) has performed both on and off Broadway, and on Broadway’s First National Tours, in the musicals Wicked (where he is currently seen as a swing for the loving Munchkin Boq), Glory Days, SpongeBob SquarePants, Xanadu, Altar Boyz, Grease, Oklahoma!, and 9 to 5. He’s also traveled the world as a special guest with a variety of singing groups and as an active member of The Boy Band Project, winner of the 2019 Broadway World Award for Best Group.

Jesse Johnson (right) with The Boy Band Project at City Winery. Photo by Brooke Becker.

As a singer/songwriter, Jesse has been writing his own music for more than a decade, releasing his debut EP Ginger Love on Spotify and other popular streaming platforms in 2014, and his single Sweet Sweet Lovin’ in 2021, which was also the name of his hit solo concert at The Green Room 42. He has played there and at other renowned NYC cabaret clubs, including 54 Below, Chelsea Table and Stage, and most recently at City Winery with The BBP, where he will return with the group on Saturday, August 19, for the Boy Band Brunch, following a sold-out critically acclaimed premiere at the venue on June 17 (after which the ‘Boys’ were immediately invited back for a second show). They have also been a popular act on entertainment cruises around the globe and at annual Pride Festivals, including P’town.

Jesse graciously made time in his fully loaded schedule with Wicked and The Boy Band Project to give his fans some insights into his personal taste and background.

  1. What’s three emotions do you feel when you’re performing live on stage?

Jesse: The emotions I feel are excitement, love, and adventure. Is adventure an emotion? LOL.

  1. Who was the biggest influence in your career?

When I was very young, I used to watch movie musicals with my Nana and younger brother. We would copy all the choreo and musical numbers and perform them for the rest of the family. Gene Kelly is someone who stuck out for me in Singin’ in the Rain. I remember making my parents buy me tap shoes that Christmas; I was three or four. That’s what started it all.

Jesse Johnson at 54 Below. Photo by Daniel Robinson.
  1. Which came first for you, acting or singing?

I was always quite a dramatic child but singing was something I had connected to first.

  1. What’s your first creative memory?

My first creative memory is probably when I was five, in a local children’s theater. The show was called See You on Broadway. I was hooked, and also apparently angry at everyone in the audience who wasn’t looking at me the whole time. A monster was born.

Jesse JP Johnson as Boq in Wicked. Photo by Joan Marcus.
  1. Which of the characters you’ve portrayed on stage have you found most relatable?

I honestly would say SpongeBob! I was obsessed with the cartoon when it first came out. Everyone always said I was like him – the positive disposition and love for people and life. For the times I went on for him it felt like home and so dang fun!

  1. Is there a role or show you’d like to perform in the future?

Mark in Rent is someone I always come back to. I would love to do that show. But, honestly, at this point in my life I will take whatever comes my way! I love being a part of new projects and creating new characters.

Jesse Johnson at City Winery. Photo by Deb Miller.
  1. Do you have a favorite Boy Band?

New Kids On The Block and Boyz II Men were the main two who started my love for Boy Bands. My mom was obsessed with them when I was younger; we had their tapes and music videos on all the time. I remember getting a perm so I could look like Joey McIntyre. Plus who wouldn’t want to sing like Boyz II Men?!

  1. Is there one song in the Boy Band Brunch that you always look forward to performing?

“I Want It That Way” is definitely one of the best Boy Band songs of all time. I love the harmonies and getting to belt the high note at the end of the bridge!

  1. Which Boy Band type are you most like in real life?

I would have to say that I am true to my part as the Sensitive One. I’m a Pisces and Italian/Greek, so I definitely have ALL the feelings.

Jesse Johnson at City Winery. Photo by Deb Miller.
  1. Which has been your favorite stop on the entertainment cruises with The BBP?

Istanbul was definitely one of my favorites. We had an overnight there, went to a traditional Turkish bath, and had a truly lavish time and adventure. Also Alaska, because of the beautiful views and that is where I met my husband – a long story for another time.

  1. Is there somewhere in the world you haven’t been to yet but would like to visit?

I’ve luckily been to most places in the world but I would love to go to Thailand for the food and culture and Berlin for the nightlife and history. 

  1. What three words would you use to describe yourself?

Someone once described me as effervescent, which I like and can agree with; also loving and adventurous – since adventure has been a recurring theme throughout this!

Jesse Johnson. Photo by Brooke Becker.
  1. If you had a pet flying monkey, what would you name it?

Jack, after my Yorkie/Chihuahua, who passed unexpectedly at the beginning of the pandemic. He was my horcrux and partner in crime. I called him my little monkey.

  1. What do you enjoy doing when you have some time off? 

I’m originally from Colorado; I love hiking and rafting and anything outdoors. I have a cabin in the Poconos, so I try to get out there any time I have free. 

Jesse Johnson. Photo by Brooke Becker.
  1. What’s the biggest benefit of achieving fame?

I’m not sure I have achieved fame, but I am so grateful and privileged to have all the experiences I have had so far in my career and hope to continue to have them. The biggest benefit to doing any type of performance or show is definitely the good people you meet along the way. 

Thanks, Jesse, for sharing a fabulous fifteen minutes with us and bringing all the feelings, just as you do in your performances on Broadway and in concert!  

The Boy Band Project’s Boy Band Brunch plays August 19, 2023, beginning at noon (doors open at 11 am), at City Winery, 25 Eleventh Avenue, NYC. For tickets (priced at $25, plus fees, general admission, brunch not included), call (646) 751-6033, or go online.

Wicked plays an open-ended run at the Gershwin Theatre, 222 W. 51st Street, NYC. For tickets (priced at $116.75-272.50, including fees), go online.


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