GYPSY OF THE MONTH: Nina Lafarga of 'Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown'
Out of the whole star-packed cast of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Nina Lafarga may be the most visible performer on Broadway. Not only because of her role in the new Lincoln Center Theater production—where you’d definitely notice her as the girl on the balcony in her underwear—but also because of her prominent placement in the poster for her last show, In the Heights.
The In the Heights poster that’s been a familiar sight in Times Square, subway stations and various other places around town over the past couple of years has Nina near the front, wearing a short skirt and being lifted in the air with her leg extended. She also appeared on the Broadway Bares XX poster this year, the only woman in a group of three naked gypsies.
Lafarga was in In the Heights throughout its 2007 off-Broadway run and from its Broadway opening in early 2008 right up until this July, when she left to go into rehearsals for Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. The David Yazbek musical, based on Pedro Almodóvar’s 1988 breakthrough film, opens this Thursday. Starring Patti LuPone, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Sherie Rene Scott and Laura Benanti, Women is the first new musical of the season having its world premiere on Broadway. (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and The Scottsboro Boys ran off-Broadway last season.)
In Women on the Verge, Lafarga plays Ana, who lives in the same building as Pepa (Scott) and is often riding around on the back of her boyfriend’s motorcycle. Lafarga has other parts in some musical numbers, like an actress in a film-within-the-play and one in a trio of bob-haired nurses. Interviewed during the show’s final week of previews, Lafarga tells BWW: “I feel things opening inside me as an artist and a performer that had not been opened before. Watching these artists—like Patti, Sherie, Laura—on stage and watching their process, I’m just so inspired and it’s challenging me in so many ways. Every day I feel like I’m jumping over little hurdles, and I feel like I grow so much from the experience.”
Of performing in a star-laden production, she remarks, “I’m like a sponge watching them. They’re such strong women, they’re obviously incredibly talented, obviously have all this experience and are so admired in the community. They’re divas in the sense that they’re so huge. But they’re just beautiful women too—they’re honestly so caring and loving and just embracing of the entire cast at all times. That’s a wonderful feeling: To see after all this time, they have big hearts.” And there’s someone else in the Women of the Verge cast she’s happy to be working with: Luis Salgado, her dance partner from In the Heights (and the April 2007 Gypsy of the Month).