Today, we are excited to share an exclusive interview with Alexander Quiroga. Mr. Quiroga is a member of the Broadway company ensemble of “Wicked”, and previously, he was a universal swing for the show. Check out his insight below!
When did you first know you wanted to be an actor?
I guess when I was 14 or 15. I realized a few things about who I was and of the kind of man I wanted to be in those years that are still prominent. I suppose I was a bit ahead of schedule. Or maybe I’m still just waiting to grow up… I’ll never forget doing West Side Story in H.S. when I was a freshman. That did it. I remember watching the guys in Miss Saigon come out of the stage door at the Broadway Theatre when I saw it. I knew then that that’s where I wanted to be. I liked River Phoenix and Ethan Hawke. Those guys made me want to act. And Robert Downey, Jr. I was 15.
What was your first professional acting job? What did you learn from it?
Well, my first professional experience was interning at the Dorset Theatre Festival. I actually worked in every department which made me feel like I could better relate to the wardrobe or crew in all my future work because I’ve done it. As an actor I think it’s important to at least acknowledge and respect all the departments and that is not always the standard practice for some performers. I feel theatre is all about collaboration.
What was your audition process like for “Wicked”?
I was invited to a dance call to replace L.J. Jellison. I remember feeling awful about the combo but I sang well. A few months later I flew in from Houston for a day to audition for the first national tour. I was in tech for A Chorus Line at TUTS and the director Baayork Lee let me go. I love her. It was a huge call and we danced hard and it was fun. I didn’t feel good about how I sang but Stephen Schwartz was there so I’m sure I was nervous. Never again will I fly and audition on the same day. If I can help it. I also remember Joe Mantello getting up from around the table to shake my hand. That was so kind. Being in the room is always awkward and since Joe’s an actor I’m sure he understands that more than anyone. I wasn’t asked to open the first national but I was asked to come in again. This time to audition and replace Derrick Williams. I danced well and I sang well but, to no avail. Again, I wasn’t chosen. A few months later I was doing Evita at Gateway Playhouse and I got a call. This time it was with an offer to be a universal swing. They were about to open the third company Chicago and there were more to come. I swung the NY and Chicago companies for a year and then replaced Ben Cameron on Broadway. Incidentally, his was the first vacation I ever covered.
Had you seen “Wicked” prior to being cast?
Yes, and I wasn’t that into it. I remember having a hard time figuring out where my friends on stage were.
In your time as a swing, what was your favorite track to perform and why?
Probably, Elphaba’s Father because I used to hate doing it and I learned how to overcome the initial challenges. I remember feeling like I was failing because I was playing the father of someone the same age, if not older, than I was. And it was getting in my head. Eventually, I got to a place where I believed my own work and enjoyed getting to do one of the first, and best, features in the show. Everything you do will present its own pesky challenges but I believe conquering them is what makes the thing worth doing.
What is your favorite costume to wear in the show?
My Emerald City. I love the cape, it’s so major. FYI : I’m told my costumes don’t appear in any other company. Those looks are exclusively Broadway.
What are your favorite songs and scenes to perform? To watch?
I like dancing in Ozdust, I love the choreography. I watch Defying Gravity on occasion from the wings. I would watch it every night but I’m usually starving at that point and eating whatever I had delivered to the stage door an hour prior.
Have there been any funny bloopers/mishaps you’d like to share?
Not really. Things can get off track once in a while but we’re usually capable of coping and moving on. And facing upstage to laugh.
Have you had to adjust any day-to-day habits to protect your body and voice whilst in the show?
I don’t go out dancing anywhere near as often as I used to. I haven’t skied in years either. Oh, and I love yoga. It works for me.
After being in “Wicked” for so long, how do you keep your performance fresh from day to day?
At this point it’s in the muscles. All I have to do is listen and let it take me for the ride.
What is your typical “schedule” for a normal day in the show?
I don’t have a typical schedule. Sometimes I go to the gym before work and get on stage still high from the work out. Sometimes I’ll be in class all day then I’ll come to work. Some, if I have to be up early, I’ll nap in the afternoon so I’ll have enough energy for the show. One thing I will say is there are just as many hours devoted to the show while away from the show as when you’re there, doing the show. Whether it’s for preparation or recovery.
What, for you, are the best and worst parts of being in a megahit like “Wicked”?
I’ve learned a lot about marketing and branding. The best part is being a part of something that moves so many people. The worst: I don’t know. Maybe it’s feeling branded. Sometimes I wonder if, because I’ve done it so long, it’s all people think I’m good for. Or maybe that’s what I tell myself sometimes…I don’t know.
Do you have any dream roles?
My dream is to create roles.
What advice would you give to aspiring performers?
I would say, stay true to who you are. You may not even know who you are yet, but as you get to know yourself. Your point of view is all you have as an actor that makes you special. Anybody can fit a type if they try hard enough. But you’ll fly if you tap into what’s important to you and use it in your acting. Be yourself. After all, it’s you that they’ve come to see.