How long have you been performing on stage? I began my “performance career” if you will in Kindergarten in my school’s production of The Music Man. My teacher Mrs. Bray was playing the role of Mrs. Paroo and the director needed some younger kids to fill out the ensemble. She saw someone like me, filled with energy, constantly talking in class, and someone who could never really sit still, so she asked me, or well really my parents, if I’d be interested in it. Before my parents could even respond, I jumped at the chance and shouted YES. That experience really skyrocketed my love for Musical Theatre and I’ve been performing onstage ever since!
What was your first show with Yorba Linda Spotlight? My first show with Spotlight was Beauty and the Beast, the first time they produced it back in the summer of 2009. I’ve been with the company ever since, and their upcoming production of Legally Blonde will be my 22nd show with them! (P.S.: Come see Legally Blonde April 21st through the 24th! Be there!)
Why do you like performing in shows with Yorba Linda Spotlight? As I stated previously, the people and creative team I get to work with. I can be having the worst day ever, but then I remember I have rehearsal and I instantly perk up at the fact that I get to come “home” essentially. Spotlight creates for itself such a warm and welcoming environment that I love being a part of. The creative team has practically become my mentors and I owe them everything when it comes how much I’ve grown in this business. The people I’ve gotten to work with over the past 8 years I’ve been with the company have become my family, and they keep me coming back. Along with all that, they pull out all the stops for their productions. They go above and beyond what people’s expectations are and then some! They will do whatever it takes to make these shows phenomenal and won’t pass over any little detail. With Mary Poppins for example, they could’ve easily said, “You know, Mary doesn’t need to fly. We can just have her exit stage right when the time comes.” and that would’ve been that. But they want to, like I said, go above and beyond, and so come end of Act One, Mary went flying over the rooftops of London. They will do whatever it takes to create a wonderful show, for the audience and for the cast.
What is your dream role? That’s a tough one! I have so many! Luckily through Spotlight I’ve had the opportunity to cross two of them off my list, Pinocchio from Shrek the Musical, and most recently, The Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, but I would LOVE to play both again in the future. When it comes down to ones I haven’t played, Mary Sunshine from Chicago is for sure up there, along with Officer Lockstock in Urinetown. Both of those roles are so different from each other and I would love to be given the difficult task to make those roles my own and see what I could do with them. Other roles that I would love to play but aren’t necessarily dream roles are Prez in The Pajama Game, Bobby in A Chorus Line, Sylvia in Ruthless, Gomez in The Addams Family, and King Charlemagne in Pippin. Unrealistically, of course I have to say Elphaba in Wicked, and then Eliza Hamilton in Hamilton. Hey, a guy can dream right!
Of the roles that you’ve played, what has been your favorite? I would definitely have to say just recently, The Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz. It was so much fun bringing such an iconic role to life onstage in such a well known story. I loved making the role my own while also staying true to the character that everyone who’s seen The Wizard of Oz knows of. Not only that, but my costume was INCREDIBLE. It was the same one used in the Madison Square Garden Production and I LOVED it, it was hot, but I LOVED IT!
Has Spotlight helped you grow as a performer? If so, how? Absolutely! Besides school theatre previously, they were the ones to introduce me to this “brand new world.” I’ve learned so much when it comes to singing, acting, and dancing with the training I’ve received. The creative team has pretty much taught me everything I know, I’ve taken voice lessons with them, dance lessons, and so on. They’ve shaped me into the performer I am. I started with them as a performer, but as time went on, I began to get involved with the company through other aspects. With them, I’ve choreographed, stage managed, production managed, ran the box office, worked microphones, helped with hair and makeup, run stage crew, the list is endless! They’ve opened so many doors for me within the realm of theatre. Through them I now have various knowledge of numerous theatre fields, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that.
What do you like to do when you’re not performing? Honestly, I cannot think of a time when I’m not performing! I currently attend the Orange County School of the Arts in their Musical Theatre Conservatory, so even at school I’m singing and dancing my way through life. Then at night I usually have rehearsal or am practicing for some recital performance or school event. Even my job consists of performing! I currently work at The Disneyland Resort as a Performer, so even then I can’t get away from it! Haha! I would have to say that in the little time I’m not performing, I’m hanging out with friends, going to Disneyland, obsessing over Killer Whales and Paint The Night, and just living my life to the fullest!
If you could choose a show for Spotlight to produce, what would it be and why? So many tough questions! Haha! One hundred percent, I would have to say Urinetown. The show is so funny and crazy and I love how comedic everything is. Other shows I would love for Spotlight to do are The Pajama Game, West Side Story, A Chorus Line, Pippin, and Bye Bye Birdie (again!). All of those shows have so many great characters and I would love to see what twists could be put on them.
What are your strongest and weakest traits as a performer? I would have to say that singing and acting are my strongest, while dancing is definitely my weakest. That’s not to say I’m the worst dancer, but that’s the one area I focus primarily on to improve upon. I love dancing the most so I love being able to work on it whenever I can!
Of Spotlight’s past shows, which has been your favorite and why? Another tough question! I’m gonna have to say top three, because I have too many favorites! In no particular order, Hairspray, Shrek The Musical, and of course, The Wizard of Oz. I absolutely loved Hairspray because of all dancing. I consider myself a pretty strong dancer, and it was so fun being one of the “Nicest Kids In Town” and portraying the “All American Teenager” while dancing on The Corny Collins Show. The dances were so fun to perform and that show just holds a special place in my heart. Shrek The Musical is also up there as well, simply because I got to portray one of my dream roles, Pinocchio. I just got to prance around the stage acting all sassy and just saying whatever came to my, well, Pinocchio’s mind (providing it was in the script haha). Also, I loved being in the big dance numbers, Story of My Life and Freak Flag. Pinocchio is essentially the leader of the Fairy Tale Creatures and it was so much fun being “the boss.” And last but certainly not least, The Wizard of Oz. Being able to portray the Cowardly Lion was such a dream, but there’s also another reason why I loved this show so much: the People. The four of us, Veronica Ornelas, Josh Bates, Jared Piper (Dorothy, Scarecrow, and Tinman respectively) and myself became so close, along with Cassie Bangle, Grace Underwood, Rob Bergman, and Haley Enos (The Wicked Witch, Glinda, The Wizard, and Aunt Em). All together we became such this tight-knit family and were practically inseparable come closing show, and it was so hard to have to say goodbye to such an amazing experience.
Anything else you want to say? Thank you Spotlight for forming me into the performer I am today, I would not be where I am without you guys. It has been such an honor and a privilege working with you guys over the years, and I could not be more grateful for the people I’ve met and the opportunities I’ve been given. So thank you!