BWW Interviews: Sergio Trujillo - Broadway's Quadruple Threat Talks JERSEY BOYS, 'NORMAL,' WHITE NOISE
Given the odds, for one to have been involved with a singular Broadway success would be impressive. To have been involved with two would solidify one's status as a true Broadway "player." How about 4, running at the same time?
Only two artists have been able to boast such an accomplishment, the first being Susan Stroman, whose productions of Contact, The Producers, The Music Man, and Thou Shalt Not all ran simultaneously for a short time in 2001. Last season, Broadway's go-to choreographer, Sergio Trujillo, joined her company with his superfecta of next to normal, Jersey Boys, The Addams Family and Memphis. It appears that like Jersey Boys, Memphis, and The Addams Family, Trujillo is showing no signs of breaking his streak, or going anywhere, with new projects in the pipeline incoming.
These productions, of course, are just his shows running on Broadway today. Trujillo has also famously been attached as a choreographer to All Shook Up (2005) and Guys and Dolls (2009), and as a performer to Jerome Robbin's Broadway (1989), "Dolls" (1992), and Fosse (1999). Off-Broadway and regionally, Trujillo choreographed Bare: A Pop Opera (2004), A Tree Grows in Brooklyn for City Center Encores!, The Great American Trailer Park Musical (2005), Kismet for "Encores!", Saved (2008) for Playwrights Horizons, Zhivago and The Wiz at the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, a US tour of Kiss of the Spider Woman (performer, mid-1990s) and West Side Story in 2009 at the Stratford Festival, Canada. He also choreograped at the Village Theatre for their musical staging of The Wedding Banquet (2003). In the West End he choreographed Peggy Sue Got Married. He worked on the Disney musical Tarzan in Amsterdam in 2007, which is currently running in Hamburg, Germany. For opera, Trujillo has choreographed The Marriage of Figaro for Los Angeles Opera and Salome for the New York City Opera.
And now, this one-time aspiring (and trained) doctor is adding a new step to his repertoire - that of director to several upcoming projects, including the Whoopi Goldberg-produced White Noise by Matte O'Brien, Joe Shane, Robert Morris and Steven Morris that is Broadway bound next season. The show will open at Chicago's Royal George Theater this April. In what is among his most ambitious undertakings to date, Trujillo will direct and choreograph this original musical that follows a teenage singing group that promotes its messages of white power through coded lyrics and catchy melodies to penetrate the mainstream, exposing how anything marketed, polished, and packaged correctly will sell even to the brightest among us.
In our industry, artists are too-often branded with a unique style. Recently, BroadwayWorld had the opportunity to speak openly with the man who managed to avoid such a fate and become a top pick for shows ranging in style from traditional Broadway, to latin, opera, rock, jukebox, and now, music video-ready pop and hip-hop - instead branding them with his signature cohesion and "invisible hand."
Many people don't know that you came into a career as a dancer/choreographer relatively late, and that you were actually pursuing a career as a doctor. How did the transition occur?
Well, I'm Colombian. In my culture, we take our responsibilities to our family seriously. I felt that going to school, studying the sciences and becoming a doctor was the safe and best way that I could take care of my family. That's a "good Hispanic son" sort of path. But, I felt like there was something tugging on my heart. I started dancing when I was nineteen - really late. I fell in love with this show that I saw when I was in school in Toronto studying biochemistry and I thought, "that's what I want to do."
In Colombia, we weren't exposed to musicals. So I came late to knowing about movie musicals and all that stuff. I'm still, to this day, catching up. But once I discovered dance, I fell madly and passionately in love with it. I became obsessed with it, really. About five years after I finished university, after finishing a couple of years of chiropractor school, I met Michael Peters who used to be Michael Jackson's choreographer. He choreographed "Beat It," "Thriller," and won a Tony Award for Dreamgirls. He came to Toronto to do a dance concert and he hired me as one of the dancers. And while we were in rehearsal he turned to me and said "You have God's given gift. You're very talented." After that, I never really looked back.