Actor and playwright Erik Jensen is making his Broadway debut less than a year after surviving a brain aneurysm. Currently appearing as Bruno Bischofberger in “The Collaboration,” Jensen’s brush with death over a year ago changed the course of his life and ultimately led him to Broadway.
On the latest episode of “The Broadway Show with Tamsen Fadal,” Jensen — joined later in the episode by his wife, playwright Jessica Blank — shared his journey to the Main Stem with Paul Wontorek.
In February 2022, Jensen was working with Blank on their show “Coal Country,” which was preparing to bow at the Cherry Lane Theatre. At home one day, Jensen started to feel unwell.
“I all of a sudden said, ‘I have a headache,’” Jensen recalled. “I had a seizure and I passed out cold.”
He suffered from a subarachnoid hemorrhage, also known as a brain aneurysm. Speaking of this specific aneurysm, Jensen said “50 percent of the people who get it die outright.” The majority of the surviving half usually have cognitive or physical difficulties.
Jensen, miraculously, had none of the above post-surgery. Just four weeks after the incident, he stepped onstage for four performances of “Coal Country,” after an actor fell ill due to COVID-19.
After their production closed, Jensen and Blank jetted off to London, where they saw a play featuring Emilia Clarke. Clarke had suffered two aneurysms while filming “Game of Thrones” and served as an inspiration for Jensen.
“I called my agents when I got back and I was like, ‘Listen, I really think we need to up our game here and let’s go for some bigger stuff,’” he recalled.
A short time after that phone call, “The Collaboration” came along. “It’s interesting that the first show that I’m doing coming back from this is called ‘The Collaboration’ because it’s my favorite thing to do,” Jensen said.
The production, which stars Paul Bettany and Jeremy Pope, is running at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre through Feb. 5.
This week’s episode of “The Broadway Show” features a sit-down with “Wicked’s” current Elphaba, Talia Suskauer. Fadal chats with Will Swenson, who is back on Broadway as Neil Diamond in “A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical.” Perry Sook takes viewers inside private social club The Players in Gramercy.
“The Broadway Show with Tamsen Fadal” airs on weekends. Check your local listings for air time and channel.