By Robert Cyr
You don’t have to go far on Broadway to hear John Hererra’s name. The Cuban-born actor and singer is critically acclaimed and Tony award-nominated, and has found a home both on the stage and big screen.
Now, you can find him out of New York City’s spotlight as he takes the stage in Connecticut as Otto Minnow Pea in LMNOP, a “unique musical that is part romance, part clever word game and part adult fable” that depicts “how quickly unbridled extremism can take them from us; and how important it is to have the courage to stand up for what we believe.”
The show, presented by Goodspeed Musicals, is running through Aug. 18 at the Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, CT. View the full schedule here.
Even if you are not a theater-goer, Hererra may still be a familiar face. He most recently appeared in the film The House That Jack Built, which premiered at the LA Film Festival. He has also played the role of Neville in the Tony-nominated production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Che in Evita, 1776. His national tours include performances in the acclaimed Anatoly in Chess, Falsettos, Les Misérables, and Angels in America.
But what has challenged him as a Latino in the theater world? And what would he say to young Latinos today who may have a knack for theater and a dream to follow? In an exclusive interview with CTLatinoNews.com, Hererra dishes on what it’s like to avoid being typecast and the best part of being an actor.
What made you want to get into theater?
Well, when I was young I sang both in church and in the high school chorus. I auditioned for musicals after having seen a professional production of 1776 in Chicago. That really was the turning point when I decided to be an actor.
Is there a Latino in entertainment who inspires you?
What is your heritage/background as a Latino? Where are you from?
I was born in Cuba and came to the United States with my family in 1961 after the Cuban revolution.
Do you feel you faced more challenges as a performer because you are a Latino? What were some of those challenges?
Well, to some degree the greatest challenge is to avoid being typecast. In the theater while I often get cast as a Latino, I get the opportunity to play all other kinds of roles as well. Whereas for movies or television I am more stereotypically going in to audition for bodegeros, drug dealers and the like.
What advice would you give other Latinos who may want to follow your lead?
The same advice that I would give anyone with a desire to be in show business. Get the best training that you can, start by researching acting schools in your area. Audition for any show you might be right for and learn on the job. Do the work which comes your way and do it well.
What is the most rewarding/demanding part of working in theater?
Once you’ve finished your work in the rehearsal room, the shift into the theater is probably the most challenging part of a production. The play that you’ve rehearsed for weeks is lost while focus shifts to the addition of a set, lights and costumes. Technical rehearsals are time consuming and, as they focus lights, the actors are just standing around. Once the audience arrives there’s the satisfaction of performing the play. That’s when the real journey of exploration begins for the actor. Well, at least for me, that’s when all the hard work pays off.