By DAVID WIGG
Stage star: Clean-cut pop sensation Nick Jonas in his role in Les Miserables
Every day Nick Jonas, youngest member of the clean-cut pop sensation The Jonas Brothers, would take to the stage in Les Miserables with hundreds of his teenage fans besieging the West End theatre.
Afterwards Nick, starring in the romantic role of young Marius, patiently signed autographs.
‘It’s very, very different from headlining in a rock concert,’ says Nick. ‘I’m used to hearing the audience erupt into screams when I walk on stage with my brothers, but I was relieved that although the fans were going mad outside, the theatre audience were very well-behaved.’
Nick, 18, became a regular fixture at after-show parties, too, often photographed with his co-star Samantha Barks. Not that it was likely to lead to anything, as Nick pointed out at the time. As his two brothers have done, he wears a ‘promise ring’, signifying that the trio had taken a vow against sex before marriage.
Nick was such a success in the stage show in the summer that he was asked back last month to record a DVD at the 02 arena concerts which celebrated the 25th anniversary of Les Mis, the world’s longest-running musical.
With his brothers Kevin and Joe, he had already played the arena. But in the days long before JoBro — as fans call the brothers — Nick had made his mark in the Broadway version of Les Mis, playing boy warrior Gavroche from the age of nine.
The show’s producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh was so impressed he told Nick he wanted him to rejoin the cast when he was older. And eight years later he was in the West End as student revolutionary Marius, a role he also took in the DVD.
‘For me, the nerve-racking part was really trying to get back in the theatre mindset,’ he says. ‘And the 02 was so exciting. To be part of the 25th anniversary is such an honour.’
But it is as one third of JoBro that he is best known. Nick, who plays piano, drums, guitar and is the group’s main songwriter, was the first to make a record at 12 as a solo artist.
‘Columbia Records heard a song I had written with my brothers and they asked us to go into the studio and sing together,’ he says. ‘They ended up signing all three of us and we became a group. We released a record, but then Columbia dropped us.
‘I think it made us a lot more determined. We ended up getting signed to Hollywood Records, the Disney label. That led to a lot of opportunities.’
Rocking: Nick left with Joe and Kevin in their band of brothers
They made two Camp Rock TV films and their own TV series, and have released four albums together.
Brought up in New Jersey, the brothers now spend most of their time in Hollywood or at their parents’ house in Texas. Their clean-living vow is down to their evangelical Christian upbringing. ‘Our faith is a big part of everything we do,’ explains Nick.
Kevin, the eldest at 22, has been able to remove his promise ring after marrying at the end of last year.
Despite his own purity ring, Nick says he enjoys dating and while here seems to have taken a shine to Samantha Barks, who plays Eponine in Les Mis.
Comedian Russell Brand cynically mocked JoBro at Hollywood’s MTV Video Music Awards, displaying to the audience a large ring on his finger as if he had ‘won’ it from a brother backstage.
Nick just smiles at the recollection. ‘He probably thought it was going to be a lot funnier than it was. It didn’t really go down well,’ he says.
As close as they are, JoBro like to live their own lives away from each other, as Nick showed by coming to London.
He has also formed his own group, Nick Jonas and the Administration, and Joe is working solo to try to create a sound of his own.
As Nick says, the brothers all support each other: ‘We have a great relationship and I think we’re each other’s best friends.’
n Les Miserables In Concert, the 25th Anniversary Live at the O2, is available on DVD and Blu-Ray on Monday (Universal).
Friday, 26 November 2010
By DAVID WIGG