Showstopper Krysta Rodriguez Shares Stories from Career that Spans Stage and Screen

Orange native inhabits perhaps her most indelible role—herself—in her cabaret-style show on Jan. 27.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Krysta Rodriguez

Krysta Rodriguez lit up Broadway in shows such as “The Addams Family,” “Spring Awakening,” and “In the Heights.” She also has had memorable stints on NBC’s “Smash” and ABC’s “Quantico.” But the Orange native inhabits perhaps her most indelible, endearing role—herself—in her cabaret-style show, “Coming Home,” with fellow Orange County School of the Arts alum Scott Barnhardt on Jan. 27 at the Irvine Barclay Theatre.

ON GETTING REJECTED BY OCSA

My first time auditioning, I didn’t make it. I could have gone to another school, but
I knew this was where I wanted to be and that I was equipped for this, even though they didn’t see it the first time around. So I applied for the production and design department and got into that. Then my sophomore year, I re-auditioned (for theater) and got in. I learned (about) rejection, which is the biggest part of this career.

ON APPEARING WITH BARNHARDT IN HER PROFESSIONAL DEBUT

He would make me laugh more than any person I have ever worked onstage with.
He would make stupid noises. He was so joyful. It was a huge relief for me. “Bye Bye Birdie” in 2004 was my first pro job, and the stakes were so high. To find someone who had been in the business and established himself and was still playing and having fun, it was like, “OK, I can enjoy this rather than being stressed.”

ON HER PARENTS’ SUPPORT

They fly out to every opening and closing night of every show I’m in. They see it every night they’re there. They’re my biggest fans. They would probably kill me for telling you this, but when I left for college, they felt withdrawal. They said, “We miss doing theater.” They got into a community production of “Anything Goes” during my freshman year. So I got to come back and see them onstage. As it turned out, that was not their calling, but being supportive was.

ON A SONG THAT DEALS WITH HER BREAST CANCER DIAGNOSIS AT AGE 30

There’s a part in “Coming Home” where I tell everyone, “I have cancer, and I’m going to sing about it.” And I love it because you think I’m going to sing something like “Wind Beneath My Wings,” and instead I’m doing a really up-tempo song. I don’t want to give it away, but I think it’s more indicative of what my experience was. People think something like that happens and it’s sad all the time. It wasn’t. It was hard, and it was the hardest thing I’ll ever do, but it wasn’t sad all the time. I want to say I’m not a victim. I’m strong, and I will continue to be strong.

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