Family & Companions
A celebrated musical talent on the Broadway stage, actor Gregory Jbara captured the Tony for his performance in "Billy Elliot the Musical" in 2009 while also enjoying a long career as a supporting player in films and television for over two decades. A graduate of the Juilliard School's celebrated drama program, Jbara's stage and screen career began at roughly the same time in the late '80s: the former launched with the Obie-winning "Serious Money" in 1988, while the latter began with a series of guest shots on TV and the occasional feature film. Both facets of his career blossomed to varying degrees in the 1990s, with roles in major Broadway productions of "Damn Yankees" and "Victor/Victoria" and features like "In & Out" (1997) and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (1999). In 2005, Jbara received a Drama Desk nomination for "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," which preceded his biggest theatrical triumph to date: the Tony for "Billy Elliot," along with other major Broadway awards. If Jbara's screen career didn't match the heights of his stage efforts, he remained extremely active as a screen character actor, most notably on TV shows like "Blue Bloods" (CBS, 2010- ), and features such as "Remember Me" (2010). That Jbara could be a celebrated Broadway figure and a prolific screen actor was testimony to the versatility of his talent.
Born September 28, 1961 in Westland, Michigan, Gregory Jbara was born into a middle-class, white collar family: his Lebanese father was an insurance claims adjuster, while his Irish mother managed the office for an advertising agency. But his mother also played piano, which provided Jbara with an introduction to music and performance. He explored that initial interest throughout his scholastic career by appearing in numerous plays and performing with various bands and choirs. After graduating from Wayne Memorial High School, Jbara attended the University of Michigan where he minored in theater. He would drop out of the university in his junior year and support himself through day jobs and roles in children's theater before auditioning for the Juilliard School's drama division in 1982. Jbara graduated in 1986 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and immediately began working as a voice-over artist for television advertising campaigns. He made his Off-Broadway debut as a singing and dancing Frankenstein Monster in the 1986 musical comedy "Have I Got a Girl for You!" before landing his first on-screen credit with a 1987 episode of "Newhart" (CBS, 1982-1990). Soon after, Jbara appeared in his first feature film, "The House on Carroll Street" (1988) with Jeff Daniels and Kelly McGillis, the same year as his Broadway debut in the Obie-winning "Serious Money."
Stage roles would comprise the majority of Jbara's acting in the 1990s, most notably in Broadway runs of "Born Yesterday" with Edward Asner and Madeline Kahn in 1989, "Damn Yankees" with Victor Garber and Bebe Neuwirth in 1994, and "Victor/Victoria" with Julie Andrews from 1995 to 1997. But there were also supporting turns in features, most notably as the pre-operative transsexual Angelique in "Jeffrey" (1995), and as Kevin Kline's sympathetic brother in "In & Out" (1997) - both of which were penned by playwright Paul Rudnick. His performance in "Victor/Victoria" as bodyguard Squash Bernstein, who is inspired to reveal his own closeted sexuality by Andrews' cross-dressing nightclub performer, was also preserved in a 1995 filmed version for television. The following year, Jbara returned to Broadway for the revived production of Bob Fosse's "Chicago," playing the manipulative Billy Flynn. Upon its conclusion, he appeared in a flurry of film and television projects, including an all-star film adaptation of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" with Kevin Kline and Calista Flockhart, and the remake of Neil Simon's "The Out-of-Towners" (1999) with Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn. TV work during this period included guest shots on such high-profile series as "The West Wing" (NBC, 1999-2006), "Touched by an Angel" (CBS, 1994-2003) and the TV-movie "Touch 'Em All McCall" (NBC, 2003), which marked the beginning of a lengthy association with star Tom Selleck that resulted from their work together on "In & Out." He also enjoyed a long-running recurring role as hapless neighbor Dan O'Keefe on "Grounded for Life" (Fox/The WB, 2001-2005).
In 2005, Jbara originated the role of Andre, a police official who aided conman John Lithgow in various schemes in the Broadway production of "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels." A bonafide hit during its initial year-long run, it netted Jbara a Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical and underscored his status as a dependable player on the American theater scene. Jbara then returned to steady work as a guest player on television and in feature films, most notably Oliver Stone's "World Trade Center" (2006) and the Robert Pattinson vehicle "Remember Me." Between these assignments, Jbara landed what would become his most celebrated stage role to date: Jackie Elliot, an English coal miner who must balance his commitment to a union strike with his son's growing passion for dance in "Billy Elliot the Musical." The production, which featured music by Elton John and book and lyrics by Lee Hall, swept the major American theatrical awards in 2009, winning 10 Tonys and numerous other awards. For his moving performance, Jbara earned the Tony for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical, as well as the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Featured Actor in a Musical. In the wake of this major success, Jbara worked steadily in features and television, most notably in a recurring role opposite Selleck in "Blue Bloods," as well as a minor role in "Broken City" (2013) with Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe. In 2013, Jbara co-starred as Alfred P. Doolittle in "My Fair Lady in Concert," a semi-staged production of the Lerner and Loewe musical featuring his former "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" co-star Jonathan Pryce.
Cast (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
First Off-Broadway appearance in "Have I Got a Girl for You!"
First television appearance on "Newhart"
Feature film debut in "The House on Carroll Street"
First appearance on Broadway in "Serious Money"
Played bodyguard Squash Bernstein in Broadway production of "Victor/Victoria," as well as a TV movie version
Replaced James Naughton as Billy Flynn in "Chicago"
First collaboration with Tom Selleck in "In & Out"
Recurring role opposite Selleck on "Blue Bloods"