When Omar Lopez-Cepero takes the stage because the villain subsequent week in Jesus Christ Famous person on the Fox Theatre, he shall be stepping onto the historic Atlanta showplace’s stage for the primary time. And it’s been a very long time coming.
The actor says he has attended many reveals on the Fox, having grown up round Atlanta and graduated from Duluth Excessive Faculty. Now he returns house inside his first few months on this North American tour to carry out one in every of musical theater’s most spectacular roles, Judas Iscariot. The present runs April 19-24.
Lopez-Cepero took a break from his vocal relaxation routine to speak with ArtsATL concerning the roots and trajectory of his profession.
ArtsATL: That is the fiftieth anniversary tour of Jesus Christ Famous person. However this Olivier Award-winning revival, which launched in London in 2016, is considerably completely different from earlier productions, proper?
Lopez-Cepero: I believe that [this version] has one thing for everybody. Theatrical audiences, they’re gonna actually love this present. It’s an iconic piece, and clearly you possibly can’t go fallacious with Andrew Lloyd Webber. However for folk which are new to theater, it’s an awesome segue as a result of it actually has a rock live performance factor and we’ve got the band on stage. And it actually kicks!
ArtsATL: How has the tour been going for you thus far?
Lopez-Cepero: It’s an unbelievable honor to affix this tour! This present is 50 years previous. And so to see the way it’s been interpreted for thus a few years in several methods via completely different lenses, and to be a part of that legacy now’s actually an honor for me. And my good good friend really performs Jesus! Aaron [LaVigne] and I’ve been buddies for, like, 12 years, and he was a groomsman in my wedding ceremony.
ArtsATL: So, how does that real-life friendship translate onto stage?
Lopez-Cepero: Properly, curiously, I wouldn’t say that we’re the identical because the characters, however there are particular similarities throughout the characters that I believe we are able to each latch onto. In Aaron’s case for Jesus, he’s carefree, constructive, lives life like the whole lot’s gonna work out, the whole lot’s gonna be nice. Whereas I’m all the time like, “OK, effectively, what’s the plan? What’s occurring subsequent?” So from the Omar/Aaron perspective, it leans into the Judas/Jesus characters, as a result of Judas is like, “Hey man, issues are getting uncontrolled,” and Jesus is saying, “Nah, man, the whole lot is sweet. Don’t fear. Take it at some point at a time.”
And in addition, there’s simply pure chemistry there ’trigger we’ve identified one another for thus lengthy. So, you already know, a easy look or eye roll or one thing has extra which means to it as a result of I’ve seen it earlier than.
And there are loads of intricacies and nuances inside this story. I believe what was good from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice was to inform the story from the antagonist’s perspective, however they let him be the protagonist of the story. In order that has been actually rewarding and actually enjoyable. I’m grateful that I’ve developed some good approach via finding out and thru my work all through the years to have the ability to navigate that.
ArtsATL: Speaking of your coaching, you began out right here in Atlanta, proper?
Lopez-Cepero: Yeah, it’s a reasonably cool story, really. I used to be an athlete rising up. I performed soccer — I performed loads of completely different sports activities — and my dad and mom liked music and the humanities, however they weren’t absolutely versed in it. I used to be drawn to music. After which in center faculty – I’ll always remember – the orchestra trainer had introduced in an Atlanta Symphony Orchestra member who performed the cello and performed “The Flight of the Bumblebee.” And I actually was observing this cello, considering, “Oh my God, that’s superb!” So I performed the cello for 2 years, sixth and seventh grade.
ArtsATL: How did you wind up in theater?
Lopez-Cepero: I had fallen in love with music, and I acknowledged that I might sing. So I joined the refrain, and it wasn’t till my freshman 12 months at Duluth Excessive Faculty the place I believe the universe stepped in. I auditioned for a category that was known as Music Theatre Workshop, however it turned out that that class was for upperclassmen. And so the trainer thought that I used to be a switch scholar once I auditioned. Properly, I’m unsure how she thought that as a result of I used to be 4-feet-11-inches as a freshman and I seemed like I used to be 11 years previous [laughs]! However the fortunate strike was that they had been doing a manufacturing of Mame, which has a job known as Little Patrick who’s 11 years previous. And guess who performed Little Patrick and made his musical debut?
ArtsATL: Did you additionally see theater round Atlanta?
Lopez-Cepero: I undoubtedly went to go see reveals on the Fox, which I believe is admittedly cool for me to get to play that stage. It’s so loopy!
I’ll always remember sitting within the viewers and seeing the twinkling stars. It’s like, what are we, in Arabian Nights? That is loopy! So I do know it’s gonna be a bizarre “pinch me” factor [when I perform there]. I’ll in all probability tear up through the soundcheck, as a result of it’ll really feel very full circle to me. You realize, I’ve been capable of play so many huge venues and theaters across the nation, however I’ve by no means gotten to play my main house theater. I’ve been at this for a very good little minute and to have this chance at this level in my profession to return again in a job like this, it’s particular.
ArtsATL: The place else did you attend theater rising up?
Lopez-Cepero: I additionally noticed reveals on the Aurora Theatre and Atlanta Lyric Theatre, the Georgia Ensemble Theatre. I used to be grateful that my dad and mom launched loads of that to me as a viewer.
And I’ve to present a shout-out to my highschool academics, Rebecca Houser, who was my theater trainer and goes to return see Jesus Christ Famous person, and, sadly, my late, departed refrain trainer Lee Rodriguez Ayres. They each had been so instrumental find this as my vocation as a result of had it not been for them, I in all probability would’ve both been a health care provider or lawyer or who is aware of what. [In his senior year, his teachers encouraged him to pursue a music scholarship, and he ended up scoring a full one to study voice at the University of Miami.] I actually owe them a lot for the experiences that I’ve had in my life and profession.
ArtsATL: How good! After this tour, in some unspecified time in the future you will have the musical model of The Pocket book developing, the place you’ll be taking part in Lon.
Lopez-Cepero: Sure, I’m actually enthusiastic about that! We had been supposed to try this, like a 12 months and a half in the past when the pandemic hit. So we’ve rescheduled the manufacturing like twice, 3 times. So it’s hopefully nonetheless occurring, knock on wooden, within the fall. And it’s premiering on the Chicago Shakespeare Theater with a hopeful Broadway flip later in 2023.
It’s a gorgeous, lovely present. I imply, clearly the guide is superb and the film, you already know, is iconic. Nevertheless it’s one thing that actually, as a result of it’s such an emotionally heartfelt present, lends itself to be musicalized. Ingrid Michaelson wrote the music and lyrics, and if you already know her music, she’s a singer-songwriter who actually leads with lyric, and her melodies are highly effective.
ArtsATL: As an actor, has it been onerous to navigate via the pandemic?
Lopez-Cepero: It actually made me take into consideration loads of issues as a result of because the profession sort of dissolved into nothing, and loads of issues had been occurring for each my spouse [stage and screen actress Arianna Rosario] and me pre-pandemic, we mentioned, “What’s it gonna seem like when issues do come again, if they arrive again, and is that this the life that we nonetheless wanna lead?” And after we actually sat down, we mentioned, “That is the one factor that we are able to see ourselves doing.” I imply, sure, we are able to perhaps direct or produce and do issues down the road, however I’ll without end be an artist. And I believe that artwork discovered me as a result of it was my calling, and I’m grateful for it.
ArtsATL: Properly, thanks a lot for taking day out of your day and out of your vocal relaxation to speak to ArtsATL.
Lopez-Cepero: That is good. It’s a part of my warmup [laughs].
Sally Henry Fuller is a theater nerd and performing arts journalist with a ardour for telling folks’s tales. When she’s not interviewing artists, you could find her in an area espresso store or watching a musical together with her bearded husband.