This guy has all the right moves.
No matter who (or what) you prefer to get down with, it’s easy to see that local actor Evan Jonigkeit is one sexy man.
There are an abundance of theatrical roles that call for a young, good-looking man, and there is little doubt Jonigkeit could float by on his looks alone. At 5-feet-9-inches, 165 pounds with hazel eyes and brown hair, Jonigkeit is 26 years old but looks younger, an attribute that makes him eligible to play a wide range of characters. He’s youthful enough to play teenagers (he’s cast as Romeo in the Arden Theatre Company’s new production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet ) but old enough to play young adults. The characters he inhabits are typically smart and handsome, often guys who are comfortable with their sexuality and, in some cases, know how to use it to get what they want.
Jonigkeit was born in Lansdale and attended Temple University on a baseball scholarship. After his first meeting with an acting instructor, he realized he would have to choose between playing in center field and performing on center stage. The stage won.
Jonigkeit has appeared with many of the area’s major companies. He played the boy in Six Characters in Search of an Author at Malvern’s People’s Light and Theatre Company and appeared as Hal in Montgomery Theater’s production of Picnic . Jonigkeit was also a member of the ensemble in Pig Iron Theatre Company’s brilliant group work Pay Up and played the charming (and seductive) English schoolboy Daiken in the Arden’s sensational fall production of The History Boys . However, it’s Jonigkeit’s body of work with Mauckingbird Theatre Company for which he’s best known.
Devoted to producing plays with a gay perspective, Mauckingbird featured Jonigkeit as Celimene in the company’s magnificent production of The Misanthrope , reimagined for an all-male cast and set in Paris. Jonigkeit’s Celimene was a stunningly gorgeous man-about-town and the object of every Parisian’s desire. Jonigkeit could have reduced the role to simple posturing and preening, but his Celimene was not only alluring, but shrewdly calculating. Jonigkeit also turned in a terrific performance as an oppressed student in the innovative R&J , and gave an involving portrayal as the amoral killer Richard Loeb in Never the Sinner . A difficult role for any actor, Sinner ’s Loeb uses his charm and attractiveness to manipulate the love-stricken Leopold into aiding him in murder.
Celimene and Loeb are both characters that exude sexuality, and Mauckingbird artistic director Peter Reynolds says it is a trait that comes naturally to Jonigkeit. “It is part of who Evan is,” explains Reynolds. “It is genuine and not forced.” Reynolds also says the actor’s natural sensuality hasn’t gone unnoticed by theatergoers. Reynolds says audiences typically comment on Jonigkeit’s “charisma and the force of his performances; his combination of strength and vulnerability.” As for the actor’s obvious physical appeal, Reynolds reports, “Young females swoon. Males too!”
However, good looks aren’t what have made Jonigkeit one of the area’s busiest actors this season. “Evan works hard and is an actor who is very easy to work with,” says Reynolds. “He is a young man who could have absolutely relied on his looks and never chose to do so.”
In addition to theater, Jonigkeit has also dabbled in film and television. He says that while television is obsessed with an actor’s appearance (film to a slightly lesser degree), looks are not ignored by theater directors entirely. “I think directors are forced by the structure of a script to focus very intently on an actor’s appearance,” Jonigkeit explains. “In many scripts the author narrows down a framework of characteristics for the director to cast inside of.”
Jonigkeit says he approaches playing heterosexual and homosexual characters the same, and that he enjoys playing characters with an abundance of sexuality. “On stage, characters often use sexuality to manipulate. I have to admit it’s fun to play characters that use it as a tactic that way on stage, since it’s something I almost never do in real life.” ■
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