EXCLUSIVE: Modesto Lacen on Roberto Clemente Musical & the "Reality Behind the Myth"

For Puerto Rico native Modesto Lacen, portraying baseball legend Roberto Clemente in the new musical DC-7: The Roberto Clemente Story, now playing at Teatro SEA in New York City, was a role he'd been dreaming about for years. Lacen stopped by the Latina offices to share his insight on playing such an icon in contemporary Latino history.

Lacen did everything from reading biographies, speaking to Clemente’s old teammates, and even spending time with the Baseball Hall of Famer’s wife, Vera Clemente, to learn more about the essence of this man. Lacen was searching for “the reality behind the myth.” 

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“People have an image of Roberto [Clemente] as a baseball player, as a serious guy, a very introspective person, but the exciting part was precisely playing the opposite—the private man,” Lacen said.

“He was a jokester in his private life and he adored his wife, he adored his kids and his calling in life was of course to be a baseball player, but also to help others.”

With next year marking 40 years of Clemente’s passing in a tragic plane crash en route to Nicaragua with food and medicine. Lacen found a a true legacy in Clemente’s story, “When you’re in line with your calling and your purpose in life, you service. You help others.” 

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The authenticity of Lacen’s performance shines through this fun show that celebrates Clemente’s life from his days playing baseball in a yard in Puerto Rico to the hardships of adjusting to life in the U.S.  “There are idiosyncrasies, the way we speak, the way we live, the way we were raised," Lacen said of the musical. "Of course people can relate to that, but there’s a difference when you actually live it and you put that onstage. The Latino essence is there.”

Don’t miss DC-7: The Roberto Clemente Story at Teatro SEA in New York City through December 4.