John Barrowman

John Barrowman’s performing career began when he was just a wee lad. He would climb onto the counter of his mother’s Glasgow record shop and sing songs from the Top Ten. And, back at home, his mother says that “he would sing kids songs and use a baking spoon as a microphone.” John was born in Glasgow on 11 March 1967. When he was eight years old, Clan Barrowman was relocated by Caterpillar Inc from Glasgow to Aurora, Illinois. But, despite crooning into mom’s baking spoon and wowing them down at the record store, it wasn’t until John’s teenage years that the acting bug finally bit.

At Joliet West High School and the Joliet Drama Guild, John played the role of Barnaby in Hello Dolly during his Freshman Year. This, together with the combined support of his teachers and parents, spurred his ambition to go on the stage. He continued to perform throughout his High School years. With graduation looming, his guidance counselor asked what he wanted to do with his life. John replied, “I want to go into the arts.” The counselor said, “Okay, but what do you want to do to fall back on?” John replied, “If I have to have something to fall on, it will have to be my ass.”

After High School in the summer of his Freshman and Sophomore years at college John performed at the Opryland USA, a musical Theme Park in Nashville Tennessee. Here, John learned the value of interacting and being accessible to his audience – which has stood him in good stead throughout his life and career. While working at Opryland, John was offered another theme park performance job with Disney. But John had other plans and turned them down. The Disney representative told him, “You know, most of the people who turn us down end up doing something really BIG. I’m sure we’ll see your name in the future.”

John’s studies were cut short when he attended an open casting call for a young man who could sing, dance, act and had an American accent. He immediately impressed and was cast as Billy Crocker in Cole Porter’s Anything Goes, opposite one of London’s premiere theater stars, Elaine Paige. Shortly after the run began, John received a letter from that same Disney representative. He wrote, “I told you so. The people who know what they want are always the ones we lose.”

What started out as a six-month study period in the UK, turned into a theater career with a succession of leading roles: in MISS SAIGON, MATADOR, opposite Stephanie Powers (Hart to Hart), Raoul in PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, RED RED ROSE, Claude in the 25th anniversary revival of HAIR, Che in Oslo’s production of EVITA, Alex in an Irish production of ASPECTS OF LOVE and Joe Gillis in SUNSET BOULEVARD opposite Betty Buckley and later with his good friend and guardian angel, Elaine Paige.

While performing in the evening on the West End Stage, John also appeared on the “telly” as a presenter on the BBC children?s shows LIVE AND KICKING and ELECTRIC CIRCUS, and hosted THE MOVIE GAME and 5′S COMPANY, a weekday magazine show. Before long, John caught the attention of American TV producers who introduced him to American audiences in the Darren Star CBS television Series, CENTRAL PARK WEST. And while filming the show, John also made his Broadway debut in SUNSET BOULEVARD reprising the role of Joe Gillis. A few years later, John returned to American television – this time for Aaron Spelling as Peter Williams in NBC’s short-lived prime-time soap TITANS.

John earned a Laurence Olivier Award nomination as Best Actor for his portrayal of Cal Chandler in the Donmar Warehouse’s production of THE FIX . A Backstage West Garland Award followed for the Sondheim review, PUTTING IT TOGETHER , with Carol Burnett at the Los Angeles Mark Taper Forum. John subsequently reprised this role when the show transferred to Broadway in 1999.

As well as starring in musical theatre, TV drama and presenting shows on the BBC, John also has been heard in concert with the BBC in THE MAGIC OF THE MUSICALS from Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, for National Music Day (with Betty Buckley) and a concert version of CALL ME MADAM with Tyne Daly. He has appeared in concert with the Boston Pops, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra. John has given numerous concert performances around the world including several Royal Command Performances. He made his cabaret debut in 2002 at Arci’s Place in NYC, Chicago’s Park West and The Empire Room. That same year he took the show to The Kennedy Center’s, Millennium Stage and back to NYC at Lincoln Center. On 4 July 2005 John brought his one-man cabaret show to Pizza on the Park in London for a week’s worth of performances. The show went on despite the terrorist attacks that hit London on 7 of July. That same month, he appeared in Munich Germany in a concert tribute to Leonard Bernstein and made his European cabaret debut in Belgium.

In 2005, John appeared in the role that was to bring him to a wider international audience – that of Captain Jack Harkness in the BBC’s revamped DOCTOR WHO , a show that included the young John Barrowman among its fans. Such was the acclaim that John’s character received from audience and producers that the spin-off, TORCHWOOD, with Captain Jack leading the show, was almost immediately planned and went into production when DOCTOR WHO finished filming. John has played opposite Kevin Kline in the 2004 Cole Porter bio-pic, DE-LOVELY and was featured in the 2005 version of Mel Brooks’s THE PRODUCERS.

At the end of 2005, after appearing as Jack Ross in the London production of Aaron Sorkin’s A FEW GOOD MEN , starring Rob Lowe, John starred as Prince Charming in CINDERELLA at the New Wimbledon Theatre. Always prepared to take on a new challenge, while appearing in pantomime, John was simultaneously training for DANCING ON ICE , the pro-celebrity ice dancing competition that teamed John with World Junior Champion, Olga Sharutenko. Despite a series of exuberant and exciting routines, “Team Barrowtenko” was voted out in the fourth week, resulting in a public furore, with jammed switchboards at the TV network as viewers rang in to protest. Christopher Dean, who trained the celebrity skaters with partner Jayne Torvill, was even moved to comment that the show had lost one of the best performers. John was subsequently asked to host the daytime magazine show THIS MORNING while the regular presenter was on vacation, and read a series of bedtime stories on the children’s BBC CBeebies Channel.

John also appeared in the BBC’s SOUND OF MUSICALS, broadcast in early 2006. While filming TORCHWOOD, he was asked to join the panel of judges on the reality TV talent show, HOW DO YOU SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE MARIA? in which the lead in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new production of THE SOUND OF MUSIC was chosen by public vote following a selection process and public auditions.

John’s recordings include cast albums for HAIR, GODSPELL, THE FIX and ANYTHING GOES, plus studio recordings of selections from MATADOR, RED RED ROSE, GREASE and The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber. John’s first solo CD, a six track mini CD is John Barrowman: Aspects of Lloyd Webber. His first full-length solo CD, released in 2000 was John Barrowman: Reflections from Broadway, featuring songs from many of John’s leading man roles. A third solo CD was released in 2004: John Barrowman Swings Cole Porter.

John is a member of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme; an organization dedicated to promoting outstanding achievements by young people and has acted as MC for presentations of the Awards at St James’s Palace. Returning to his roots, he also lead a theatre workshop for Joliet West High school students. The Dreamers’ Workshops were later opened to all High School students.

The Oprah Winfrey influence. “I watched a show about people giving back what they have learned in their life and giving it back to other people,” John says. “I always wanted to come back to Joliet and do something after having some success in my career. I was given my greatest introduction to music and theater from Joliet West High School. It kills me today that High Schools are cutting back on their arts programs.” John acknowledges that, without the support he received in High School, chances are that he would not now be appearing in Royal command performances in the West End in front of the Royal Family and their invited guests, or having Stephen Sondheim ask him to play opposite Carol Burnett.