Who’s Next: Andy Señor, Jr.

Playbill Pride   Who’s Next: Andy Señor, Jr. As part of Playbill Pride 2016, we set our sights on the next generation of LGBTQ artists. Meet dancer and director Andy Señor, Jr.
Andy Señor Jr.

WHO:
Andy Señor, Jr.

WHY HE MATTERS:
For the first time in over 50 years, a commercial American production was performed in Havana, Cuba. That musical was Rent, and Andy Señor, Jr. was at the helm. For an openly gay man to bring a musical about AIDS, gay relationships and gender fluidity to the Communist country was a feat, not least because “during the Revolution, homosexuals were put into the Cuban version of concentration camps or sent out of the country,” says Señor. “To be able to bring this message of love and intolerance … and gay relationships to life on stage in Havana … it was amazing. It’s incredible to push boundaries with theatre. Period.”

It was Tony-nominated director Michael Greif who discovered Señor—when the up-and-coming performer was auditioning for graduate school back in the late ’90s. Instead of offering him a slot in the theatre department at the University of California, San Diego, Greif offered him a role in the ensemble in the Los Angeles company of Larson’s musical.

“I thought RENT would be great training for Andy,” Greif explains. “I was part of the UC San Diego recruiting tour when I was running The La Jolla Playhouse. When Andy came in the room, he sang for us… That was one of his talents, and I just knew that he could be part of a very different kind of educational process.

“I watched him grow first as a performer and then as a director and also a producer. Andy has great ideas of what theatre can do to for communities.”

Today, you can find Señor at Broadway’s Marquis Theatre, serving as the associate director for the Gloria and Emilio Estefan bio-musical, On Your Feet!

Who has had the biggest impact on you as an artist?
Michael Greif. Michael cast me in Rent, and I learned the show under his direction. He sent me to London, he brought me to Broadway, and I performed in more than five companies [in the ensemble and as Angel]. He also gave me the opportunity to be his assistant for the Off-Broadway revival of the show, then sent me to direct the Japanese company. After that, he supported me when I went out to cast and direct Rent in Cuba. He’s such an intelligent man.

What’s one thing that surprises people about you?
How available I am. The value of humility and relationships are so important in this business.

LGBTQ theatrical moment that most impressed me this year:
I’m impressed with how there’s an ongoing dialogue regarding the transgender community on stage and on screen.

Untapped talent ready to make it big:
My best friend Henry Gainza. I grew up performing with him. He did this Off-Broadway show called 4 Guys Named Jose and Una Mujer Named Maria years ago. He then went down to Miami to work for a while—but I told him, “On Your Feet! is going to be your Broadway debut!” He has this incredible voice. Now people are starting to see him the same way I’ve seen him for years. This is only the beginning for him.

I wish the theatre had more…
Diversity (I’m kidding!) I wish Broadway theatre had more out-of-the-box expression. So many of the shows we see are in a proscenium setting. I wish Broadway theatre was more immersive and non-traditional.

Favorite artist of all time and why:
Michael Jackson. He was transcendent. When I was a kid and saw him live, I was mesmerized by him. No one else has reached his level.

The next challenge I want to take on is…
Exploring the film medium.

I hope my legacy as an artist will be…
Bridging social and political issues with theatre. Theatre can be a device to create change in the world.

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