PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: Kinky Boots Star Celina Carvajal

By Matthew Blank
April 2, 2013

Celina Carvajal, back on Broadway as Nicola in the new Harvey Fierstein-Cyndi Lauper musical Kinky Boots, fills out's questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.

She has previously appeared on Broadway in Tarzan, Dracula, 42nd Street (Annie) and Cats (Demeter).

Other stage work includes The Toxic Avenger, Rooms (New World Stages), Radiant Baby (Public Theater), Empire (Spiegelworld), Prometheus Bound (ART), The Last Goodbye (Williamstown) and Bedbugs!!! (NYMF Outstanding Actor Award).

Carvajal is lead singer of the NYC-based rock band The Deafening, who will play their next gig April 24 at Arlene's Grocery on the Lower East Side.

Full given name: Celina Consuela Gabriella Carvajal

I guess my father thought we were doing West Side Story.

Where you were born/where you were raised: I was born and raised in the heart of San Francisco in the Haight Ashbury, and YES my parents were and continue to be hippies!
Zodiac Sign:Aquarius
What your parents did/do for a living:My father is a choreographer and artistic director, and my mother was his prima ballerina and now choreographs and teaches dance.
Siblings:My sister is awesome. Her name is Calli Carvajal but she also goes by Bunny Huggems in the club kid scene.

She is a hair stylist, and specializes in over the top wigs and hair styles. Google "Kayvon Zand." She is his hair stylist.

Current audition song/monologue:This is embarrassing… I need to get some… any suggestions?
Special skills: I play classical piano.
Something you're REALLY bad at: Remembering people's names
First Broadway show you ever saw: Cats! The tour. Does that count?
If you could go back in time and catch any Broadway show, what would it be? The original production of Sweeney Todd
Current or recent shows you recommended to friends: Once and Book of Mormon
Favorite showtune(s) of all time: "Pinball Wizard!"
Some favorite musicals: Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Assassins, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Jesus Christ Superstar, Sweeney Todd
Broadway or screen stars of the past you would most have loved to perform with: Gene Kelly. I would say Richard Pryor, but I don't know how I would perform with him.
Your personal vocal idols, living or dead: Anne Wilson and Bon Scott
The one performance – attended - that you will never forget: Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Music that makes you cry, any genre: Really any genre if the song gets me in the right place.
Most played song on your iPod: Hahaha… apparently it's "Shoot to Thrill" by AC/DC
Most-visited websites: Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Playbill (obviously!!!)
Last book you read: "Bad Dogs Have More Fun"
Must-see TV show(s): "Downton Abbey"
"The Walking Dead"
"Breaking Bad"
Last good movie you saw: "Silver Linings Playbook"
Some films you consider classics: "Clue"
"Trading Places"
"Coming To America"
"Beverly Hills Cop"
"Naked Gun"
Performer you would drop everything to go see: The original Guns N' Roses line up
Pop culture guilty pleasure: "America's Next Top Model" Booty Tooch! Smize!
Three favorite cities: Sydney, Paris, San Francisco
Favorite sport/team/player: Baseball/San Francisco Giants/Buster Posey!
First CD/Tape/LP you owned: Soundtrack to Baz Luhrmann's "Romeo & Juliet" and Depeche Mode's "Speak & Spell" (I would jump up and down on my bed to it!)
What are some of your most memorable roles as a kid or teenager and how old were you? My favorites were playing the Stepmother in Into the Woods at age 12, Ivy Smith in On the Town at age 16… but the best one by far was playing Princess #12 in Once Upon a Mattress at age 14. I don't know why but I always LOVED that scene.
First stage kiss: I was playing the lead girl in Carnival. That's all I remember.
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living: I was playing a bon bon in The Nutcracker when I was 3 years old! When I put my jazz hands in the air I just knew!
How you got your Equity card: 4th National Tour of Cats. I auditioned when I was 17 and they called me on my 18th birthday to offer me a swing position.
Favorite pre-/post- show meal: Kodama before, chicken teriyaki bento box.

Smith's Bar after for some dirty ol' Buffalo Chicken Wings!

Favorite liquid refreshment: Dunkin' Donuts iced tea before

Jameson after

Pre-show rituals or warm-ups: Lips trills and iced tea!
Most challenging role you have ever played: Playing Carly in BEDBUGS!!!
Craziest audition story: I won't get into the audition process for "Legally Blonde: The Search For Elle Woods" cause I could write an entire book about it.

How about my audition story for Cats? One random day my friend Noah Haydon called me up and said, "Celina you need to get here ASAP! Cats is auditioning the women in 2 hours." I ran over there with my hair in pig tails (cause it looked more like cat ears) dressed all in black and made it to the female open call. I made it through all the dance cuts and to the singing auditions.

I sang "Dance 10, Looks 3" and strutted around so confident. They asked me to sing something else in my book that showed my soprano… I chose to sing "A Sleepin' Bee" by Harold Arlen. Then they asked for another song… I sang "Losing My Mind!" A 17-year-old child in pigtails singing Losing My Mind!

I was one of the final girls to sing and when I left the audition I took the elevator with one of the creatives (can't remember who) and he looks at me and tells me that he missed his flight just so he could stay and hear me sing all those songs!

What has been the biggest challenge about this project? Playing the character no one roots for and getting my heart broken by Charlie (played by Stark Sands) every night.
What has been the most fun or fulfilling aspect? Working on this piece from the start with this wonderful creative team and cast.
Any upcoming or side projects you can talk about? Why yes! Currently I'm working with the hall of fame songwriter/producer Desmond Child on 2 solo albums. One all covers, the other all originals.
Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap: Losing my tail during the Jellicle Ball in Cats
Worst costume ever: I hate to say it but being an overweight male train conductor (with facial hair and full fabulous vampire glamour make-up) in Dracula, the Musical.
Worst job you ever had: This isn't gonna sound that bad (and I've been really lucky to never have to get a normal job) but playing male ensemble characters in Dracula, the Musical and having to lift really heavy things and do it all in super slow motion.
If you could trade roles with anyone in the cast for a week, who would it be? Billy Porter… I guess the show would be a little Victor/Victoria, but if you put enough make-up on me I look like a drag queen!
Leading lady role you've been dying to play: Janis Joplin in Love, Janis
Leading man role you'd like a shot at: There are soooo many, seeing as I consider myself a gay man trapped in a woman's body, but my picks are Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar, Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Frank-N-Furter in Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Something about you that surprises people: I'm a natural blonde.
Something you are incredibly proud of: Proud to be a part of Kinky Boots, proud of my band, proud to have come this far!
Something you're embarrassed to admit: I am and always will be a HUGE fan of "Sea Quest DSV!"
Career you would want if not a performer: I would totally be an interior designer! You better believe my dressing room is FULL OUT (as Jerry Mitchell would say)!
Three things you can't live without: Performing, iced tea and rock n' roll
"I'll never understand why…" … they cancelled "Sea Quest DSV"
Words of advice for aspiring performers: Put yourself out there as much as possible!