Onstage / Ten Questions for Anthony Alcocer
(Judas Iscariot in Jesus Christ Superstar at American Repertory Theater)
Photo courtesy of Anthony Alcocer
What’s your relationship to this show?
I have known Jesus Christ Superstar inside and out since I was a child, and along with that comes a great sense of passion and history, an aching personal desire to make the most out of the opportunity I have right now, especially with Judas on my plate. Growing up, and even today, my friends, family, and I have always considered the music, lyrics, and story to be almost a communal thread that binds us, as we would sing the show in its entirety at the top of our lungs around a campfire. It’s truly my favorite musical.
What’s the best acting advice you were ever given?
“Stay in the here and now.” Easier said than done. Leaving baggage at the door is one thing, but it’s entirely different to completely get out of yourself so honestly and unselfishly that you abandon your own psychology and begin to facilitate someone else’s. “A good actor is simply the facilitator of the director’s interpretation of the author’s intent.” This reminds me of how I fit in the grand scheme. It gives me courage to try anything once.
What’s your best “the show went on” moment?
Two instances stayed with me. One was Meet Me in St. Louis and the technicality of the World’s Fair at the end was very ambitious. Opening night and a few other nights during the run, the power in the building went berserk, fire alarms and sprinklers went off, and we had to evacuate before returning to sing the finale and take our curtain call. The audience stayed with us and were grateful.
The other instance has always engendered me to give my all despite how I may be feeling otherwise. I had a castmate who was extremely late to call and seemed so completely out of sorts before curtain that it prompted the usual reactions that sweep through a company. Nobody knew why, and the show went on. This actor delivered their performance so cleanly and professionally, no one could ever think something was up. He did not take a bow as he exited with haste, and, after the play, the director revealed that his mother had passed away during the show. I was dumbstruck that he had chosen to perform under such stress and uncertainty and to not let it affect his responsibilities.
What’s the role that got away?
Romeo for sure. I’m grateful to have played Tybalt and Mercutio as I came to realize how directors saw me in their plans, but I always wanted to be tasked with that particular leading man’s story arc. The aches and pains, along with delight and beauty that ultimately leads to reckless abandon. Sadly, I’ve aged out, unless someone decides it’s reasonable to assume thirtysomethings would kill themselves over love lost.
What line from a former play have you never forgotten and why?
“Grumio...my horses!” Petruchio leaving Baptista’s house in The Taming of the Shrew. My friend and I who played these roles often still utter these lines when saying goodbye, or for when a good chuckle is needed because of the beauty of live theatre. The play took place in a small space where one had to tiptoe when backstage so as not to make any noise. Grumio missed the cue and when the name was pronounced, proceeded to rush heavy footed across the entire width of backstage to make a late entrance. We could barely keep it together. (Surprise, surprise.)
What “against type” role are you dying to play?
I would be so grateful for the fearless director willing to think outside the box and work with me on the specificity and challenges that come along with playing a character such as Louis in Angels in America. I would relish the opportunity to play such characteristics as anxiety, ambivalence, and perpetual guilt in order to try and understand and ultimately facilitate those psychologies. Also something androgynous and kinky might be fun.
What’s your classic actor nightmare dream?
The one where it’s a week or the day before you open or start filming and the director calls or asks to speak with you privately. “Yeah, this is not working. We gave it a shot but we need to go with someone else. Thanks.” It’s never happened to me, but I’ve witnessed it and it still makes me shudder.
What would you change about this headshot if you could?
I really like the photo overall and it’s recent, so I don’t have anything to change. However, I was in character mode at the time with my hair and beard, so possibly a trim or a cleaned-up look would have made my mother happier.
What’s been the best thing you’ve seen this season and why?
Congratulations are in order to the heavy lifting done by the talent in Design for Living at Irish and John at Road Less. It is always a pleasure sharing the stage with our community’s finest, and that includes moments of greatness from Steve Copps in Peter & The Starcatcher at MusicalFare and Dave Mitchell in Glengarry Glen Ross at Road Less, simply wonderful to watch on a nightly basis. For me, the standout so far this season was the tremendous efforts of those involved in Stupid Fucking Bird at ART.
Plugs for the rest of the season or something else?
I’m happy to announce I will be going The Full Monty at Subversive April 12–May 12 and, since I love Oscar Wilde, I am really excited to see Lady Windemere’s Fan at Irish. Also, please mark your calendars for May 25–June 10 as Raíces presents the Western New York premiere of the musical La Lupe: My Life, My Destiny.
American Repertory Theater opens Jesus Christ Superstar March 8 (artofwny.org, 634-1102).
Read more on this month's theater scene here.
Playwright Donna Hoke writes about theater for Spree and Forever Young.