In-person interviews are becoming rarer and rarer these days, so it was a pleasure to be able to chat with Tony Award-nominated Broadway star Raul Esparza over dinner. The three-hour conversation, conducted for my August 2009 Stage Directions cover story (PDF magazine version here, expanded online Q&A here), is certainly one of the most in-depth, frank and sincere interviews I have ever conducted.
Esparza and I share similar life experiences: He is Cuban-American and grew up in Miami. My mother grew up outside of Havana, and my grandparents lived in Hialeah, a Cuban community outside of Miami, during their later years. Although not acquainted during school, Raul and I both studied at NYU around the same time (he was theater, I was film), and during my senior year he starred in The Dining Room, a play directed by my then-roommate Mark Dobrow, who is now production stage manager for Mary Poppins on Broadway. And both Esparza and I have had our careers flourish in New York.
During our lengthy conversation, the Broadway star was congenial, gracious with his time and forthcoming in his answers to questions that covered a wide range of topics, from working with the legendary Stephen Sondheim to his feelings of humility at not winning the Tony for Company to his thoughts on Jeremy Piven’s abrupt vanishing act from Speed-The-Plow (covered in the expanded online version). Aspiring actors have much to learn from Esparza’s answers, through which he offers plenty of insight and revelations that are culled from years of professional experience. Even for casual theater fans it makes for a great read.