Natascia Diaz Talks Return to The Capeman

Natascia Diaz appeared in the Broadway production of The Capeman in 1998-but the show quite famously tanked after less than 70 performances. This weekend (and Monday), she is one of the few people from the original cast to return to the musical in the much-buzzed-about revival concert in Central Park--this time as one of the stars.

Natascia Diaz Talks Return to The Capeman

The homecoming, like any, is an emotional one. "It's nothing short of magic, because we've allheard of [shows] in workshops coming back after a year or two, but after 12 years?" she laughs, both disbelieving and delighted.

In 1998, Diaz played the role of Yolanda, which, like many others in the show, has since been cut for the current version. This time, she plays Esmeralda, the mother of Salvador Agrón, who murdered two teenagers in 1950s New York. The role has been rewritten to become a central focus of the show, and a star role.

Diaz has nothing but praise for the musical, and for Paul Simon's work to bring the story to the stage. "He takes so many different sides of the issues and the character," she says. "The poetry of the lyrics and the issues he addresses are so unique. I've rarely seen such insight except for Sondheim."

Natascia Diaz Talks Return to The Capeman"The story is extraordinary," she continues, describing the obstacles Agrón faced: His stepmother committed suicide. He came to America at 11 years old unable to speak the language, with no one at the airport to meet him. He was abused and molested by people who were supposed to help and educate him. "Everywhere he turned, there was no solace," Diaz says. "He suffered unthinkable hardship...I defy anybody who had been through that much to come out without some kind of scar."  

In the Broadway production, the show was narrated by the adult Agrón returning to his old stomping grounds and looking for redemption-a device that Diaz acknowledges did not work dramatically. "It wasn't sympathetic enough," she says. "We could feel the lack of focus, but all we could do was live in material and love it. It was heartbreaking for all of us." The inherent problem, she says, was the lack of dramaturgy, despite the strength of the music. "Musicals are guided-none of that was done. We thought at least [audiences] would see the innate beauty of the story, but they were so reticent to let a pop star come in and present a Broadway musical. Now, of course, that's changed, and with Diane's incredibly theatrical and poetic vision, this piece is in masterful hands."

Diane Paulus, who is directing the concert, rebuilt the musical's structure from the concept up. "She had been talking for a year about a different way to tell the journey of the story," Diaz says. Her solution was to begin the story at Agrón's grave, and to let the musical take place as a flashback through the eyes of Esmeralda Agrón. "Who better to argue the case of his purity of soul than the killer's mother? It's brilliant."

"Have you ever been in the eye of a hurricane? 'Cause that's what I feel like," Diaz says. "To see the music come alive and have it come out of her soul...she conjures him. It is the most poetic moment I've ever had in a theater, on a stage. I am unspeakably honored to [be part of] the rebirth of this and to hold this new concept in my hands. It's an unspeakable honor. And Diane Paulus has paved my role with gold. She's letting the writing reveal itself in a proper way...Not only does it work, it's transcendent."

 

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From This Author Jena Tesse Fox

Jena Tesse Fox is a lifelong theatre addict who has worked as an actress, a singer, a playwright, a director, a lyricist, a librettist, and (read more...)

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