Santa Claus was a huge part of Jason Marks’ childhood. As a youngster, he watched Santa hand out gifts and connect with kids and families in the community each year. “That stayed with me for a long time,” he says. “Santa has always been part of my life in one way or another.”
Jason is an award-winning singer, actor, and composer. Locally, he has been seen in numerous productions with Virginia Repertory Theatre, Swift Creek Mill Theatre, and other theatre companies. When Jason was living in New York City in 2010 and pursuing his acting career, he served as one of Santa’s official helpers at the flagship Macy’s store. “That was an incredible opportunity,” he says, adding that many of the children he visited with at Macy’s in NYC shared heart-wrenching stories, sometimes asking for nothing more than happiness.
Being Santa for Jason is about “being able to do something for somebody,” he says. “It’s about giving back and making people smile.”
Santa has an inherent spirit of joy and happiness that Jason wants to share with the world. That’s why he has started a Kickstarter campaign to raise $4,000 for a quality, custom-made Santa suit that will allow him to continue the tradition of being Santa for years to come. Local artists are already putting in bids to work with him on the suit’s design and production.
This year, Jason has been fortunate to borrow a high-quality Santa suit. “The costume I have been wearing is on loan for this holiday season from Virginia Rep,” says Jason. “Virginia Rep puts out many holiday tours and productions each year, and it’s not always possible to borrow or rent their suit. So having my own costume – that was made especially for me and belongs exclusively to me – is important.”
Why is Jason so committed to this endeavor? “This is about doing something for kids – that no matter what the situation is – will make them feel a little happier,” he says. “If I can leave some good in this world as Santa or in any way, that is what matters.”
Being Santa is also very personal for Marks who has lost both of his parents. “For me, the holidays are tough,” he says. “I had to ask myself how can I elevate my own spirit and make myself feel better.”
And what better time than to remind people of Santa’s jolly spirit? “In the world today, we need a little joy and magic in our lives and that’s why I want to do this,” Jason says.
To help Jason raise money for the Santa suit, visit his Kickstarter page here: Becoming Santa Claus.
To learn more about the Richmond native who has delighted family audiences as Horton and Shrek in past Virginia Rep productions, read this Q&A. Jason’s work in children’s theatre last year included a new production to help reduce bullying. Read about his collaboration on Have You Filled a Buck Today? the Musical for Virginia Rep.