Thursday, 21 July 2011

On a Scale of 1 to 10, You are an 11!!

As a special opening day treat, I'm honored to be able to present an interview with Don Darryl Rivera!!

The 5th Avenue kindly arranged this for me a while ago and the answers arrived back  literally the day before I got married!!  So sorry for the wait, and without any further delay here's the man bringing Iago to life!

Firstly let me say congratulations on landing the role of Iago in the Seattle production of Aladdin and thank you for agreeing to this interview!

Thanks! I'm so excited that you wanted to interview me! I've been following the blog :-)

When did you first decide you wanted to be on stage, how did you get into the business, and who (or what) would you say have been your biggest influences?

I decided I wanted to making acting my profession in high school when I played the Leading Player in "Pippin." The magic of theatricality in that show totally drew me in to wanting to be a professional actor. The stars were totally in alignment when I started my career. Coming out of Cornish College of the Arts here in Seattle, I had an internship lined up with Seattle Shakespeare Company in "Much Ado..." directed by the Artistic Associate of Seattle Children's Theatre. From that production I had made so many connections at Seattle Shakes and Seattle Children's that I had work lined up for a year in advance. Really I haven't stopped working since graduating. Two of the most influential theatre artists in my life are Linda Hartzell, Artistic Director of Seattle Children's Theatre and Rita Giomi, Artistic Associate of Seattle Children's Theatre. They've given me so many beautiful opportunities and challenges and have really played a pivotal role in shaping me as a theatre artist.

You’ve played an incredibly wide range of roles, from Shakespeare to musicals to children’s theatre. Which type of role do you find challenges you the most as a performer and which do you enjoy playing the most?

I am a big believer of the work that Seattle Children’s Theatre produces. For me it is rewarding and artistically challenging to perform for kids, they are the most honest audience you will ever have.

Don Darryl as Roger in I Was A Rat, Photo by Chris Bennion

Do you remember Aladdin from its original release? Were you a fan of the film before you got the part?

I was a huge fan of the movie! If I remember correctly, I had the cassette tape of the original, original soundtrack before they changed that one lyric in "Arabian Nights."

How did you come to be involved in the Seattle production and what was the audition process like?

I was called in to audition for Aladdin, but not for any role in specific. My first audition was for a few people. My callback was for a room full of people, I sang a couple songs and Casey looked at me and asked me to learn one of the Iago sides. I was so nervous that I had forgotten which one he told me to learn, so I learned all three! I went back in to the audition room and it was the most fun audition I've ever had to date, I think.

What was your reaction when you were told you’d got the part?

I still can't believe it.

With all the changes from film to stage (including the apparent removal of Abu and Rajah) there’s been some speculation that Iago might not even be a parrot in this production! Can you please confirm (if you’re allowed) whether or not Iago is still a parrot?

I'm pretty sure I can say that I'm not a parrot in the show. Although there are a few homages to Iago's feathered past thanks to Chad Beguelin our amazing book writer/lyricist and Greg Barnes our fabulous costume designer.  

As I’ve got older Iago has become one of my favourite characters in the movie (and especially in the series that followed). Has Iago’s character gone through any changes for this production? And what can you tell us about your approach to the role?

Iago is a little more even tempered in our production - he's definitely got a little funny bone in him but at the same time there is a real sense of danger about him. I've brought something new to Iago, but the essence of Iago that everyone knows and loves is still rooting around in there too.

Don Darryl as Iago with the cast of Aladdin, Photo by 5th Avenue

What’s it like working opposite Jonathan Freeman’s Jafar? You two looked like you worked really well together in the Spotlight Night "Why Me?" preview.

Jonathan is simply amazing. He's the sweetest person and a very generous scene partner - there's a certain comfort and ease that makes the stage feel comfortable, almost like home. I love working with him and I hope I get to do it again in the future!

Iago didn’t really get a singing role in the animated classic (he had to wait until The Return of Jafar), is "Why Me?" your only number, or can we expect Iago to do more singing in this show?

Iago is featured in "Why Me" and at this point, that's the only song.

I believe you started tech rehearsals this weekend, how’s everything going and (if you can say) what’s the set like?

Things are going well. It's a BIIIG show. The orchestra is amazing and the set, oh the set - it is really a beautiful sight to behold and the lights! Oh gosh... Natasha Katz our lighting designer is awesome. Disney and the 5th Ave have really pulled the best of the best on this show... It's gonna be spectacular.

How do you prepare before a show? Do you have any superstitions or routines that you do before you go on stage each night?

I don't really have a strict way to prepare although I do like to get very zen when I put on my makeup. I also like to make my dressing room as comfortable as possible because it helps keep me relaxed and focused. I am a very superstitious person... I actually used to have a wooden clothespin that I would wear under my costumes for years. I lost it a few years ago and was certain that I would have bad luck on stage for the rest of my life - suffice it to say, I've had a pretty lucky streak in my career.

Looking to the future, do you have any dream roles that you would love to do?

If Disney ever does an English version of Der Glockner... I would love to play Quasimodo. I've already played Sancho Panza in Man of La Mancha but would love, love, love to do it again!

And finally, looking back over your career so far, do any moments or performances really stand out as something truly special that you’ll always remember?

This show. It is a wish come true to be a part of the original cast of Aladdin.
Don Darryl, thank you so much for your time, it’s been a pleasure. All the best for the show!


I don't normally comment at the end of interviews, but I just have to say I would love to see Disney bring Der Glockner Von Notre Dame to Broadway and give Don Darryl his dream role!  I still think it's amazing how everyone on this cast was a fan of the film growing up, and if you want to learn more about Don Darryl then make sure you check out his website!

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