Arena Stage is notorious for producing passionate, exuberant, and profound pieces of theatre, and their upcoming production of Carousel is no exception. Named the Best Musical of the 20th Century by Time Magazine, Carousel is sure to swing its way from the stage right into your heart. With an all-star cast comprised of Arena Stage veterans and newcomers alike, this love story is sure to hit you right in the feels.
On Tap had the chance to chat with leading man himself, Nicholas Rodriguez (Billy Bigelow) to chat about Carousel, how it’s been playing his dream role, and the best piece of advice he’s ever received in regards to acting.
On Tap: What made you get involved in acting?
Nicholas Rodriguez: It’s funny actually. I grew up playing sports (my dad was a football coach), but it wasn’t really my thing. I needed to find a before-school activity, and it was either football or the school choir, so I chose choir. That lead me to pursuing school musicals.
OT: Being from Texas, do you get typecast? Should actors break from this mold or embrace their type?
NR: I’m from mixed-race heritage, so I fall into many types. I tend to play the leading man roles. I think it’s important to know your type and own it, but try to break out from it from time to time.
OT: Tell me a bit about the character you’re playing in Carousel, Billy Bigelow.
NR: Billy, in a nutshell, is a bad boy. He’s a charmer, a performer, he’s lived a difficult life and makes bad choices. He does awful things – no spoilers!
OT: And your approach to playing this character is…?
NR: Well, he doesn’t see himself as being bad, so I can’t judge him. As actors, we want to be liked and clapped for [laughs] so you have to separate your personal desires with the intentions of the character.
OT: Why should audiences come see this musical? What sets this production apart from other productions of the same show?
NR: It’s a classic musical with gorgeous music and with themes like redemption, hope, perseverance, and love. It’s about what we deal with now. As far as what’s different? It has a diverse, multiethnic cast, but we’re not making it a plot point. It just is what it is. Also, the orchestra is onstage the entire time.
OT: What’s been a highlight of rehearsing for Carousel?
NR: One is working with the team. I’m blessed to be working with everyone. There is trust onstage. Safety. Also, Billy Bigelow is my dream role. I’ve been wanting to play him for twenty years. The idea of performing as Billy in Carousel on the Arena Stage is a dream.
OT: Lastly, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given in regards to the craft and business of acting?
Rodriguez: My voice professor told me, “You don’t know what you don’t know,” meaning it’s okay to not know something and to ask questions. It keeps you grounded. Another thing I’ve learned since acting professionally is that it takes the time it takes. We’re running a marathon, and we’re defining our own success.
Carousel runs from October 28-December 24 at Arena Stage. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.arenastage.org.