Actor JP Dunphy is not one to box himself into one type of role on stage. This past summer, he was one of the humorous and somewhat baffled members of the quartet in The Media Theatre's Forever Plaid--the professional music theatre company's first foray into its Broadway at the New Jersey Beach Series.
Currently, he is portaying Corny Collins, a '60's dance show host who assists in integrating Baltimore, through November 4 at The Media Theatre in its production of Hairspray.
While Corny may have animal magnetism, Dunphy takes the word 'animal' to the extreme in his next appearance on stage when he will appear as Toggle, the near-sighted horse, in the Philadelphia region's first professional production of the family musicalDr. Dolittle.
"I like to take on roles that are fun and challenging," Dunphy explained. "I have always been a guy who enjoys making people smile and these roles allow me to do that. It's a great feeling to know audiences are happy after they see one of these shows. Who doesn't want to smile?"
Dunphy is no stranger to The Media Theatre stage, having introduced himself to local audiences during the first years of the popular summer vocal contest Delco Idol. A former top-five contestant, he later emceed a season of Delco Idol Junior. From there, he played roles in Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical, The Who's Tommy, and Annie.
"I have been working with Jesse Cline, the Artistic Director here, for several years now," Dunphy said. "The Media Theatre has been a large part of my growth as an actor, and it's such a terrific thing for Delaware County to have a professional music theatre company that is thriving after more than a decade."
Dunphy is also a songwriter and pop singer in his spare time, composing and recording his own tunes at his home in Villanova. "I taught myself most of what I know," he said. "It's fun for me to come up with lyrics, put them to music, and record myself singing harmonies. Not to mention, playing most of the instruments myself!" You can hear his original compositions at www.myspace.com/thejpdunphyband. "Most of my songs are about the various shades of love. But, hey, can't beat that!"
And you can't stop the beat of Hairspray, which plays through November 4. Audiences can hear JP Dunphy sing live in the show as Corny Collins, the maestro of the teenybopper set in '62 Baltimore. Next up, he is playing several roles including Toggle the Horse in the family musical Dr. Dolittle, November 20-January 27. He'll be working alongside well-known sportscaster Bill Vargus who will play the title role.
"I guarantee you, if you come to see either of these shows in Media you will leave with a smile," Dunphy said.
For tickets, call The Media Theatre at 610-891-0100 or visit mediatheatre.org.
Pictured: Actor JP Dunphy as Corny Collins in The Media Theatre's Hairspray which plays through Nov. 4. Next up, he's in Dr. Dolittle for the holidays.