Actor-singer Jason Opsahl, who appeared on Broadway in The Will Rogers Follies and The Full Monty and in revivals of Grease! and Once Upon a Mattress, died on Friday, October 25 of cardiac arrest after a battle with Anaplastic Astrocytoma, a form of brain cancer. He was 39.
Opsahl was born in Savannah, Georgia but his family later moved to the Orlando, Florida area. There, Jason attended Rollins College and performed in regional theater productions and at theme parks. He moved to New York City in 1986 and made his Broadway debut in 1991 in The Will Rogers Follies as one of the title character's "Wranglers." In 1994, Opsahl was Kenickie to the Rizzo of Rosie O'Donnell in the Barry and Fran Weissler production of Grease!, later playing the role opposite Brooke Shields. He was also in the ensemble of the short-lived 1996 Broadway revival of Once Upon a Mattress that starred Sarah Jessica Parker.
After receiving his cancer diagnosis in 1997, Opsahl was treated and seemed to recover. His last appearance in a Broadway musical was as an ensemble member/swing in The Full Monty. He was also very active in many fundraising events produced by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
He is survived by his parents, Robert and Muriel, of Orlando; three brothers, Robert and Barton of Orlando and Craig of Long Beach; and several nieces and nephews. In lieu of flowers, donations in his honor may be made to BC/EFA, 165 West 46th Street, #1300, New York, N.Y. 10036. Details on an upcoming memorial service will be available within the next few days; phone BC/EFA at 212-840-0770 for information.