Currently, Aaron Alcaraz is performing at Bucks County Playhouse, where he is playing Harry in the reimagined production of Kinky Boots, and he understudies the role of Charlie Price, with the run continuing until July 30th. Aaron originated the role of Jack in Trevor: The Musical at Stage 42 in New York City at the end of 2021, with the show filmed for a Disney+ release, for which he attended the red carpet premiere earlier this year. Before the pandemic closed theatres, Aaron was Swing and understudy Kevin G in Mean Girls on Broadway at the August Wilson Theatre, and due to the show unable to reopen after COVID, Aaron was part of the closing Broadway cast. Other theatre work for Aaron has included the 20th Anniversary Tour of RENT as Angel, and he played Sonny in In The Heights, which led him to be nominated for Best Actor in a Musical at the Broadway World Awards. This year, Aaron made his screen debut, having worked on Law & Order: Organized Crime and The Equalizer. Catching up with Aaron, he talks about playing Harry in Kinky Boots, being in the original cast of Trevor: The Musical and making his Broadway debut in Mean Girls.
You are currently in Kinky Boots at Bucks County Playhouse as Harry, how has the run been going so far?
It’s been a fun time so far! The show is so joyful and has such a great message that it’s hard to not be in a good mood after it. And the cast are all so lovely as well. I saw this show twice on Broadway and loved it so I feel very lucky to be getting to spend a few weeks doing it.
How has it been seeing the audience response to the reimagined show and what are you most looking forward to for continuing in the musical?
I think that audience response has been pretty positive so far. We really tried to go deep into the stories and relationships of these characters underneath all the usual glitz and glamour of the show. I think the story has really been hitting home. We (thankfully) get a lot of laughs but there are also some gasps from the audience during the show’s more serious moments so it’s been nice to know our audiences have been right there with us every performance.
We understand you cover the lead role of Charlie Price, what has the role been like to rehearse as?
I do indeed! Our show just opened so I haven’t had too much understudy rehearsal yet. It’s mainly been a lot of independent study on my part. But it’s very exciting. Charlie has spent his whole life trying to please the people around him and learns about who he is and what he wants during the course of the show, so I’m looking forward to bringing my own take on that. And the songs are also just really fun to sing.
What was it like originating the role of Jack in Trevor: The Musical at Stage 42 in New York City and can you tell us about the character?
Getting to be a part of this show was such a dream. I got to return to NYC after the pandemic and help bring theatre back to the city so I just felt so lucky. And I knew from the moment I read the audition that Jack was a character I really wanted to play. He doesn’t appear until late in the show and is someone who has been through a lot of the struggles that Trevor is currently going through. I don’t want to give any spoilers away, but he is someone who Trevor meets in a moment of need and who is able to be a guiding light and source of encouragement for him.
What was it like being part of the cast and having the musical filmed for a Disney+ release?
It was so great! First of all, the entire cast was absolutely wonderful and I’m so thankful to have gotten the chance to work with each and every one of them. And then getting to film the show was a complete surprise. We closed very abruptly due to the Omicron surge of COVID-19, which was very sad for us all, and then about two weeks later we were told that we were going to be coming back for one day to film the show. First of all, it was a miracle in itself that all of us were able to come back COVID free to film because there were still a lot of cases in New York at the time. But on top of that, we came back three weeks after closing the show and ran the show all the way through twice with no rehearsal. There were no set-up shots to film specific moments or anything like that. We just got to the theatre and did the show twice, once with only the cameras and then again with a small audience. That’s the show you can see on Disney+, which I think is so special because watching it is very close to getting to experience the actual live performance. And coming back to film was very beautiful for us as a cast because we never got to have a closing performance, so coming together to film and then watch the finished product together was a nice way for us to say goodbye.
How was it attending the Disney+ red carpet premiere and seeing the filmed version for the first time?
It was amazing and surreal all at the same time. We as a cast hadn’t seen each other since we filmed the show in January so it was a really lovely reunion. I kind of feel like an honorary big brother to all the young actors in the cast and seeing how much they’d grown in just a few months was wild. And then seeing our show we love so much up on a huge movie screen and reliving all the special moments we had was just the best. It was a really beautiful night.
You were Swing and understudy Kevin G in Mean Girls on Broadway, how did you find the experience making your Broadway debut with the show?
I wouldn’t trade my Broadway debut experience with Mean Girls for the world. Swinging is the hardest job for a performer on Broadway and I remember being very nervous about that being my Broadway debut. I didn’t want to maybe suck at it and ruin my debut experience and my reputation right out of the gate. But it ended up being such a great thing for me. I learned so much about myself and it also gave me so much confidence, both on stage and off. And I made some really great friends from the experience as well.
What was Mean Girls like to be part of and was there anything you enjoyed most about being in the closing cast?
I had so much fun being in Mean Girls! The cast was so welcoming and supportive, particularly my Swing family. We were called The Treehouse because our dressing room was waaayyyy up at the top of the theatre, and they became another family for me within my Mean Girls show family. They helped me learn all my tracks and answered all my questions, and whenever we weren’t on stage, we’d just have so much fun in the dressing room. The whole building was a great group of people. I had so much fun on stage with the cast, and Tina Fey would visit the show a lot too so it was always very exciting to run into her backstage. We unfortunately did not make it out of the Broadway shutdown and the pandemic, but I do feel honoured to be part of the group of individuals who were with that show at the end.
In the 20th Anniversary Tour of RENT, you played Angel, what was this like to do and what are some of your favourite memories from your time touring?
RENT is my favourite show and I think Angel has been my favourite role I’ve gotten to play so far. It was just an amazing experience. I got to play an iconic character, fall in love every night, wear amazing outfits, and sing some of the best songs in musical theatre. Touring with the show was also great because we got to bring an important and impactful story all over the country. RENT was considered risqué when it came out in the 90s, and I was shocked to discover that it was STILL considered that in some of the places we toured. It was 2017/2018 and we were literally doing the 20th Anniversary Tour; you’d think enough progress would have been made in the world that RENT would no longer be considered shocking subject matter. But it was just proof that the world still has a lot of work to do when it comes to being inclusive of all people. Helping bring this story to those who maybe needed to see it most was the best part about touring for me.
Can you tell us about playing Sonny in In The Heights and what was it like being nominated for a Broadway World Award for Best Actor in a Musical?
I saw the First National Tour of In The Heights when it came to the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles. I was 16 years old and I had just started doing theatre a few months before that. I’d been to see professional shows before, but this was the first time I saw something that was full of people who looked like me and sounded like me. I know first-hand how much representation matters because it changed my life. That same night was when I told my parents that I wanted to pursue being an actor. So getting to do the show that inspired me so much was a full circle dream come true, and to have my performance be received well enough to warrant a nomination was just icing on the cake. I had an amazing cast for that production as well, I loved the entire experience.
This year, you made your screen debut having filmed episodes of Law & Order: Organized Crime and The Equalizer, what were they like to film and how was it being on set of both projects?
So exciting! And so quick too. I found out about both of these projects on the same call from my agent, and I was filming both within two weeks of that call. Everyone was very nice and understanding of me being nervous and new to being on set, and I had a great time filming both episodes. I’d love to do more TV and film work so I’m very thankful to have started with these two positive experiences.
Where does your love of acting come from and was there anything that encouraged you to train at Ithaca College?
I was very quiet and shy growing up (and still kind of am now) but acting was how I learned to come out of my shell and express myself. Working on characters and giving them a voice helped me find my own. That’s how I first fell in love with acting, and since then I’ve learned that it’s also a special way to connect to people. Art is entertaining and fun, but it can also hold a mirror up to society and to you. I love being a part of that, and I can only hope that my work and the projects I’m a part of can make an impact to help make the world a better place.
Can you tell us about your time at Ithaca College and about some of the shows you performed in whilst there?
Ithaca College was a great environment for me to learn how to be an actor. I didn’t start doing theatre until I was a sophomore in high school and I didn’t really have any other friends to talk to about auditioning for colleges. I picked IC because I knew they placed a big emphasis on their acting curriculum, and because it was the school that Aaron Tveit, Jeremy Jordan and Ben Fankhauser had all gone to and I was a big fan of theirs. Thankfully, I got in and I got to go and learn a ton for the next four years. My favourite show I did there was A Chorus Line in my senior year where I got to play Paul. That was the first role that really pushed me to my limits as an actor, singer and dancer all at the same time, which was so exhilarating and fulfilling.
Do you have any favourite theatre shows to watch and which would you like to see that you haven’t done so as yet?
Hmmm great question. Some of my favourites that I’ve seen on Broadway are The Color Purple, Hadestown and Angels in America. I also saw Miss Saigon in the West End during my semester studying abroad in college and that blew me away. I’d love to see Hamilton! I’ve had so many friends be in multiple productions of it that I’m a little embarrassed I haven’t seen it yet. I’ve seen it on Disney+, of course, but I would love to see it live and in person.
How do you like to spend your free time and what are you hoping the upcoming year brings for your career?
My free time, especially when I’m in a show, is usually spent relaxing and getting ready to perform. I’m a homebody and someone who plans his day around being able to give the best show he possibly can later in the evening, so a typical day would have me working out, maybe having a coffee date with a friend, running any errands I need to do, and probably reading a book because I love to read. Kinky Boots has me singing very high for most of the show, so I currently spend my days drinking lots of water and gradually warming up my body and voice so that I’m ready for whenever the show begins.
For the next year, I’d love to do more work on camera. Acting is my first love and I’m really interested in exploring it in that medium. I’d also love to be able to keep working in New York City. I have a really cute apartment that I love, and I enjoy being home there with my friends so working in the city would be a dream.
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