Jordan Roth Takes Center Stage

The acclaimed Broadway producer, fashion provocateur, and publisher-in-waiting might be coming off a blockbuster year, but he's far from staging his final act.
Reading time 5 minutes

Photography by Aingeru Zorita 

Fashion by Ryan Young

When speaking with Jordan Roth, one of the first things you notice about him is the methodical, almost meditative way he replies to questions. There is a sense that every response, every exchange, is an opportunity to engage in something beyond simple conversation. That deliberateness of address is perhaps indicative of a deeper passion that has lead Roth to become one of today’s most successful and acclaimed Broadway producers—he has four Tony Awards as a producer to his name—with a string of award-winning and blockbuster credits, Book of MormonFrozen, the revival of Angels in America, and Clybourne Park, among them.  

Now, at 43, Roth has set his sights beyond the buzzing incandescence of the Great White Way. Over the past several years, his flair for avant-garde, gender-fluid fashion has landed him front-row seats at Paris couture, red carpet buzz at the Met Gala, and the admiration of no less than Dame Anna Wintour (who once quipped to The New York Times that Roth’s sartorial élan was notable for “taking a lot of risks”). Talk about fashion world bona fides. And, if that wasn’t enough, in 2017, Roth began publishing Warmly, Jordan, a newsletter “magazine,” and launched The Birds and the BS with Jordan Roth in 2018, an online animated series that’s decidedly not for children. Factor into this that Roth, along with his husband, television producer Richie Jackson, is a co-parent of two boys, and it becomes clear that Roth is a force of nature. 

“It is through storytelling…that we see who we are, why we are, and who we could be.”

While Roth undoubtedly has bigger projects in the future—one can imagine a Netflix documentary à la 7 Days Out—theater remains his touchstone and his life-blood. Indeed, in the “Age of Trump,” Roth is perhaps even more vocal about the power of the stage to comment on and explore truths of today’s society. Take the 2018 Broadway revival of Angels in America. Work had begun on staging the production well before Trump’s election, but the centrality of Roy Cohn in Tony Kushner’s play and the larger-than-life role Cohn had in Trump’s life make for a twist of fate that can’t be scripted. “When we all came to see Angels in America,” Roth notes, “we thought it was about a prophecy, and it turns out it was the prophecy.” He continues, “The fact that Tony focused on Roy Cohn and that Cohn was a mentor to Trump means that we’re talking not just talking metaphorically about the seeds that were sown by Cohn and that have grown to full strength now—we're talking literally.” 


When pressed to explain how theater can bring such pressing issues to the fore, Roth—who was a dual Philosophy and Theater major at Princeton—pauses before replying with a characteristically nuanced meditation upon the art form: “The illusion of theater is at once not real, and so very real,” Roth points out. “It is through storytelling, through character, through illusion that we see who we are, why we are, and who we could be.” In the worlds Roth helps to create, the power of illusion is an “essential way of helping us move through the world,” a framing device that allows us to imagine what is, and can be, possible.  

But, if Roth merchants in the power of fantasy and “what ifs,” he is decidedly grounded by the reality of his personal experiences, with fashion becoming an ever more important vehicle for him. “I can put something on because I want to feel a certain way, and the clothes will take me there, they will lift me to the feeling that I want to be experiencing in myself, Roth notes. “And, of course, that's the sort of outward-in, but the inward-out—how we choose to present ourselves to others—is in many ways the clearest and boldest expression of self.” He concludes, “I feel most authentic when I am holding both my masculine and my feminine in my hands at the same time. Exploring fashion in the way that I have, is a very meaningful way for me to dig through what I mean by that and also to manifest it.” 



Hair: Rutger Hauer (The Wall Group)

Grooming: Asami Mastuda (Artlist NY) using Bioderma

Digital Technician: James Yarunsinsky

Lighting: Scott Fitzpatrick and Chris White

Stylist assistant: Prakash Servai 

Location: Simple Studios

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