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For actor Andy Huntington Jones, growing up with two moms was no big deal.
“To be honest, it felt like the most natural thing in the world. There was nothing awkward or weird about it.”
Admittedly, says Jones, who’s in his mid-20s, it helped that they lived in an accepting suburb of Boston and that he went to the school with the same group of kids from kindergarten to senior year.
“Looking back,” he says, “I’m sure some of the kids were instructed by their parents to consider our family as nothing unusual.”
In almost all ways, Jones’ parents shouldered the responsibility of child rearing evenly. But it was the former physical education teacher mom who taught him to throw a ball and the other mom (his birth mother) who passed on a talent and love for music.
Throughout his childhood, Jones, who studied musical theater at the University of Michigan, liked to perform whether it was magic, clowning or puppeteering. While he now contends music is in his blood and there was always music in the home, it still took him a while to discover his calling.
“When I discovered musical theater, I was overwhelmed by the way a song allowed me to feel thoughts. I also fell in love with the storytelling aspect, how a group of performers in live theater can take the audience on a journey with them.”
Jones plays Prince Topher in the national tour of Broadway’s “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” now at National Theatre. He made his Broadway debut understudying the part.
A Tony Award-winning updated version of the 1957 TV classic, “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” features songs from the original teleplay including “In My Own Little Corner,” “Impossible/It’s Possible,” “Ten Minutes Ago” and “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful?” along with a witty, more contemporary-based new book by gay playwright Douglas Carter Beane (“Xanadu,” “Lysistrata Jones,” “The Little Dog Laughed”). The production retains the romance and fairytale trappings (castles, gorgeous gowns) of other versions, but in Beane’s adaptation, Cinderella (Kaitlyn Davidson) rescues the prince.
“Usually the lesson is to get some nice things and marry up and you’ll be saved,” says Jones. “But that’s not the story here. Through Cinderella’s kindness she finds happiness and is able to bring goodness to the kingdom and effect change. Also, Prince Topher isn’t the usual cutout prince charming. Here he’s a bit lost and insecure, more of a real person. But when he meets Cinderella, he finds himself again.”
“When the audience sees us as real people they’re onboard with the show. It becomes real and not just a fairy tale glamour piece in soft focus.”
Jones sees himself as an early product of the gayby boom. Before his, there were few if any same-sex parent families in his town, at least none that lived so publicly and openly. Jones’ moms were together seven years before they had him. His adoptive mother adopted him the day same-sex parental adoption was made legal in Massachusetts. Similarly, his parents married in 2004, a month after it became legal in their state. Jones walked them down the aisle.
Several years ago, Jones’ parents gave him the opportunity and tools to reach out to his father, an anonymous donor.
“I kept dropping the ball and couldn’t understand why,” he says. “I realize now it just wasn’t something that I wanted to do. I’ve never felt anything lacking in our family unit. I’ve always felt completely provided for and loved.”
When Jones chose the sometimes wobbly career of performer, his parents were entirely supportive and accepting, he says. “They simply want me to be happy. Having made bold choices for themselves and us as a family, I think their priority was for me to also live the life I wanted to live.”
Jones is living an offstage romance too. In October he married cast mate Audrey Cardwell.
“As Cinderella’s understudy, Audrey has performed the part many times, so before I proposed to her in real life, I’d proposed to her many times onstage.”
This time it was his two moms’ turn to walk Jones down the aisle.