Who is JLB?
Joseph Leo Bwarie is an industry hyphenate: actor-writer-director & recording artist. Currently starring as Frankie Valli in the Broadway production of the Tony Award® winning musical Jersey Boys, Bwarie has been heralded by critics nationwide for his soaring vocals and captivating turn as the falsetto-voiced pop icon. Having performed the role more than any other actor, Bwarie holds the record with over 2,000 performances. The road to Jersey Boys for Bwarie began nearly a decade ago, when singer/songwriter Carole King approached him at the 2006 world premiere of Garry Marshall and Paul Williams’ musical Happy Days. After seeing him star as Fonzie’s cousin Chachi, King was adamant that Bwarie should play the lead in a musical making its debut in La Jolla, California called Jersey Boys. The rest is history.
While on a brief hiatus from Jersey Boys in 2013, Bwarie worked closely with his mentor, film/television director Garry Marshall, to develop Billy & Ray, a new play centered around the tumultuous working relationship between legendary director Billy Wilder and crime novelist Raymond Chandler on their 1944 Paramount Pictures’ screenplay Double Indemnity. Premiering at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank, California, Billy & Ray was further developed with Bwarie as associate director at the Vineyard Theatre in New York City during its 2014-15 season.
Continuing to expand his brand of music and after the success of his debut big band album Nothin’ But Love, Bwarie returned to the studio with Billboard hit-maker, producer/arranger Charles Calello. Bwarie’s second solo album, The Good Stuff, is scheduled for a November 10, 2015 release. Tito Puente, Jr. and world famous Brazilian percussionist Paulinho da Costa joined Bwarie on The Good Stuff, while legendary jazz guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli was featured on Nothin’ But Love.
Bwarie maintains a varied professional career that began at the age of 9, when he first appeared on the television series “Highway to Heaven,” “Mama’s Family” and “The Young And The Restless.” Off-camera, young Bwarie made his mark as a sought after studio singer, lending his voice to numerous film soundtracks, television shows and records including The Manhattan Transfer, Michael Feinstein and David Foster. Recent screen credits include such films as The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, Race to Witch Mountain, and Valentine’s Day.
Matching Bwarie’s passion for his work in the performing arts and entertainment industry is his commitment to helping those in need. He is an ambassador for the rare-cancer fighting charity Cycle For Survival, and he has been instrumental in raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Broadway Community’s primary charitable platform: Broadway Cares. In the summer of 2015, Bwarie joined nearly 100 Broadway professionals for The Covenant House’s third annual “Broadway Sleep Out,” an over-night raising funds and awareness for the New York City youth homeless shelter.
Bwarie hails from Los Angeles, California, is a self-proclaimed Bostonian with a BFA from Emerson College and is always happy to share his restaurant recommendations from most major U.S. cities.