Jan Erik Berntsen


May 22, 2022

Jan Erik Berntsen (born 1944) is a Norwegian actor and singer. He has his acting education from Trøndelag Theater's student school and made his debut at Trøndelag Theater in 1964. After his debut, he has participated in more than 140 productions at the theater. He played in most operettas and musicals that were staged before retiring in 2014. He has also been to absurd theater, classics, contemporary drama and comedy. He has twice sung in the Norwegian final of the Melodi Grand Prix, and has participated in several TV shows. He has also had his own show on NRK Fjernsynet, JEB-show, and had the lead role in the Norwegian TV film Nattmagasinet.

Singer and artist

Berntsen began his singing career as a restaurant vocalist in Skien and Porsgrunn, 14 years old. In 1960 he sang on a funfair tour, was "discovered" and got to sing at the world exhibition in Brussels the same year, 16 years old. In the 1960s he released a few singles on the record companies Troll and NorDisc: I will come when you ask me / My longing (Troll, 1965); Foreign ports / Your heart fails (Troll, 1965); Stay here with me / One night last summer (Nor-Disc, 1968). In the summer of 1970, NRK broadcast the program series New Faces. The series consisted of four programs, where the same young, professional artists performed each time. Jan Erik Berntsen had been picked out by producer and director Robert Williams, after he had heard Berntsen sing in Nidarøhallen in Trondheim during Odd Grythe's "Medmenneskegave-show". The other participants in the series were Anne Lise Gjøstøl, Eli Tanja, Tone Ringen and Dag Spantell, who was a regular vocalist with the program's orchestra: Reidar Myhre's orchestra. Berntsen participated in the Norwegian finals of the Melodi Grand Prix two years in a row. In MGP 1971 he sang solo in "Simple words" (11th place) and "Ironside" with Odd Børre (2nd place), and in MGP 1972 he sang "A house in the country" with Eli Tanja (5th place ) .In 1971 he participated in the TV show Wenche, where the explanatory subtitle was: «Wenche Myhre assisted by Jan Erik Berntsen». He both danced, sang and was an extra in the program. Later in 1971 he received an offer from NRK to make his own half-hour show: JEB-show. He was the host, performed as an artist and presented various guests, such as Anne Lise Gjøstøl.


When Berntsen returned from his singing assignment in Brussels, he decided that he wanted to become an actor. He applied to the theater school in Oslo, but was too young to be considered. When he had turned 17, and was still too young for the Norwegian Theater Academy, he applied to Trøndelag Theater's theater school and got in there. Later, he has mainly been associated with Trøndelag Theater. He had his first role, "The Man", in 1964, in the production After the Fall, based on Arthur Miller's After the Fall. During his 50 years as an actor at Trøndelag Theater, Berntsen participated in more than 140 productions. In 1968 he was engaged at Det Norske Teatret and participated in three performances there: Herlege tid som dagast, Sirkus Mikkelikski and Spelemann på taket. In 2010 he played in An autumn evening before the silence of Henning Mankell at Teatret Vårt in Molde. In 2014, Trøndelag Teater marked that Berntsen should end his work at the theater. They honored him by setting up a Christmas show where the title was borrowed from his NRK show JEB show. Berntsen also had this time the role of host and host who presented various guest artists every night, in addition to performing himself. Even after he retired, he has participated in performances at the theater: In the Count's time and The Sound of Music in 2015 and Pride - time to be heard in 2019. The National Performing Arts Archive (Sceneweb) has a complete overview of Berntsen's theater roles, presented up to and including 2015. Berntsen has also starred in TV productions. He had a minor role in the TV series Mammon, and he had the lead role in the TV movie Nattmagasinet in 1970. In 1977, the performance Kierlighet uden Strømper was shown on NRK Fjernsynet.