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BWW Interview: Diego Klock-Perez Talks Suzi Awards and Lin-Manuel Miranda

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Last week, I saw a co-production of "In the Heights" with Aurora Theatre and Theatrical Outfit. This week, I went out for coffee with the lead Diego Klock-Perez. In the show, Diego plays Usnavi, and steals the show, so I wanted to chat with him about all things "In the Heights" and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Plus, he just got nominated for a Suzi Bass Award, so I had to congratulate him on that.


JA: You live in NYC, how did you get down to Atlanta to do this show?

DKP: I would be nowhere without my agent, so special thanks to Lisa Price. I got a message on Facebook after not logging on for a while. It was the Aurora artistic director, and the message was from months ago. After a brief freak out, I messaged her back immediately and the rest is history. But to answer that question I got here because of "In The Heights." I wouldn't travel for any other show.

JA: What about this show really resonates with you personally?

DKP: The sense of family that is not bound by blood, the people around you that go through the "every day" with you, and what not. My father moved here to have a better life, the American dream. So, the idea of being proud of where you're from but accepting where you are now. The longing to be in a place where your parents grew up, the traditions that have passed down from your family. Plus, the revolution of musical theatre. This new idea and way of doing things in the theatre. I love anything that is new and different.

JA: Obviously, we have to ask a question about Lin-Manuel Miranda. So, what was it like to be cast as this character that was originally portrayed and created by Miranda?

DKP: To play the character written and created by Miranda....I have seen him on Broadway and listened to the cast album a million times. I have even run into him on the streets so playing this part is very cool. When I am creating work, I am inspired by him. I am not playing him but I kind of am because this is his creation; there is a part of him in it. And it is just fun. I like to take the compliment that people say I sound like him but I kind of hope those people have no idea of what you're talking about. But because I want to be making the piece my own.

JA: And you were just nominated for a Suzi Award so, first of all, congrats. How does recognition like that feel as someone who isn't an Atlanta native?

DKP: It doesn't feel random because a lot of people are talking about it, and everyone knows about it. The coolest part about this is that all these people can come together and just hang out. They get to mix and have cocktails and interact. Who wouldn't want to throw a party with all these artists?? It's a great opportunity to ask questions and get to know each other. I don't have to say it; Atlanta is making a wave so I am glad to be a part of it. It's an honor to be recognized by artists who are doing the same thing.

JA: What is next for you?

DKP: I am going to be returning to the SpeakEasy Stage Company for "Grand Concourse" in Boston. But immediately going back home to New York and my wife. Then returning to my day job as a martial arts teacher. I am super passionate about it. Fun fact: I teach Lin-Manuel Miranda's nephew, actually. Trying to make those connections somehow. Then, lots of auditions to get more work.


Not only did Diego and I have a fantastic interview, but we ended up chatting about theatre for over two hours. I found out that he is an exceptional human being with a lot of passion. He has an open mind that allows him to really see the world and explore new ideas, which is exactly what the world of theatre needs. I am excited to see where the world takes him and you should be, too.


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