Bianca Marroquin has definitely earned the title, “trailblazer.” From being the first Latina to crossover from a local production to Broadway, to becoming the star of the new Spanish-version of Mary Poppins, she’s certainly making her mark in show business. We caught up with her to talk musicals, acting and how being a Latina has played a role in her life.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got interested musical theater?
“I was born in Monterrey Mexico, and I would go to school in Texas. I lived on the border, so I was very fortunate to grow up between two worlds and both cultures and both languages and traditions. I always knew I wanted to dance. I started ballet when I was three years old, and I just knew it was something that I loved and that I wanted to do. I graduated from high school and went back to my birth city, Monterrey. They started bringing Broadway musicals to Mexico, and auditioned people in Monterrey and Guadalajara. I went and eventaully landed a role in Beauty and the Beast. I was then in Rent and Phantom of the Opera and then Chicago. It was my first leading role [in Chicago], and in six months I was invited to crossover to the main Broadway production. I was the first Mexican woman to ever do a crossover, but I had no idea about that till I read the press. My whole life changed, and I wanted to really show that I could do this, and also be a true theater ambassador for my country.”
What happened after that big break?
“I eventually moved to New York and I won the Helen Hayes Award (theater award) in 2004. I was the first Hispanic to do so. I worked on the The Pajama Game with Harry Connick Jr. and was in In the Heights. I have a long relationship with Chicago, sometimes having two or three contracts in a year. This year I did one for January through April, before I went back to TV work. I have the summer off, then it’s straight to the Spanish-language Mary Poppins, which is the first Disney musical to be done in Spanish.”
How was the auditioning process for Mary Poppins?
“I auditioned for that on my one day off back in February and had to take red-eye flight [to sing.] Thank god I pulled it off – I think angels helped sing through me that morning!”
What’s next in music for you?
“I just recorded my first album, hopefully released this summer. They’re all covers, and all treasures of my childhood and songs I loved growing up, songs from my roots, songs from the 40s and 50s. [It has] a lot of heart in it. I can’t wait to start performing this. I really wanted to respect the original arrangements, and have it be something that newer generations and older generations can both appreciate. It’s called Nuestros Tesoros (Our Treasures).”
How does being a Latina play into your life? Do you see a responsibility to other women?
“As the years went by, working on Broadway, I started seeing that I had a fan base and that they were mostly young girls. They are looking for someone that they can look up to, that they see as a role model. And I don’t take that lightly, it’s a big responsibility. I have Twitter (and other social media) and I always try to put out positive phrases, because it’s very important to dream, to believe in something. Nothing is easy, but all those mistakes, whatever they are, they end up molding you into the person you’re going to be. It’s very important for me to show Hispanic women not in these stereotypical roles. Roxie Hart was nowhere near my ethnicity, but she was a woman from Chicago. Yes, I’m a proud Latina woman, but before that -- before the color of my skin, my accent, anything -- I’m an actress, singer and dancer. I’m something bigger than just my background.”
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