Broadway Stars Share Scottsdale Stage

By Richard Schultz, Nov. 6, 2014.

Robin de Jesús.

Four Broadway performers join forces on Nov. 7 to present Seasons of Broadway, an evening of cabaret spotlighting Broadway’s greatest hits, at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

Backed by a full band, Robin de Jesús, Mandy Gonzalez, Marcus Paul James and Adam Pascal, all original stars from Rent, Wicked, Glee, In the Heights, Aida, Godspell and more, perform an evening of classic pop, rock, jazz and hit songs from iconic Broadway shows.

de Jesús, 30, got his first break in the cult film Camp. He is, perhaps, best known for playing the role of Sonny in the 2008 Broadway musical In the Heights for which he received a Tony Award nomination for best featured actor in a musical.

Mandy Gonzalez.

In 2010, he joined the revival cast of La Cage aux Folles as Jacob, the sassy housekeeper and received a second Tony nomination. His Off-Broadway and regional credits include Domesticated (Lincoln Center, starring opposite Laurie Metcalf and Jeff Goldblum), Doody in Grease, Robin in Godspell (Paper Mill Playhouse) and the title role in Disney’s Aladdin at the St. Louis Muny.

de Jesús, who has never been to Phoenix, said he is thrilled to take the stage with this talented group of seasoned performers.

When asked about his favorite moment in the concert, he quickly remarked, “‘Seasons of Love’” from RENT. This song makes me nostalgic for when I did the show. I grew up in Connecticut and performed this song in a concert near New Town after that terrible tragedy at the school.”

Marcus Paul James.

After the concert, he experienced what he refers to as a moment of epiphany.

“One of the mothers whose child was killed introduced herself. She had a photo of her child that had the song lyric ‘Measure your life in love’ printed on it. At that moment, I knew my gifts and talents were given for a higher purpose. That night reinforced I was to use my talents to heal. It also helped me to release ego and remember that my performing is for the audience and not for me.”

He said he also feels strongly about the song “I am what I am” from La Cage Aux Folles.

“I performed with Kelsey Grammar as the debate over marriage equality was getting hot,” he said. “It was the perfect timing to be in show that showcases a relationship between two men. It truly is an anthem.”

de Jesús equates Seasons of Broadway to cabaret style, a new experience for him.

“It truly is about connecting yourself with the audience,” he said. “For years, I stayed away from cabaret because you have to be you. Now, it’s been illuminating and powerful. I like to approach my performance as if we were at home in my living room. It’s that intimate!”

Adam Pascal

As far as advice to other young performers, gay like himself or otherwise, de Jesús believes there will always be naysayers — his told him he was too short and too ethnic — but it’s critical to turn those “obstacles” into strengths.

“You have to follow your gut,” he said. “I was told never to do theatre [or] to study classical music … All the reasons I was told not to do something turned into pluses and made me what I am now. My uniqueness brought me opportunities.”

Another important lesson he’s learned along the way is to have other things in your life that you are passionate about in case you do not experience success.

“Theater is not for the faint of heart and you have to love it,” he said. “You have to work your ass off.”

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