Interview: Mauricio Martínez of 5'11, BASED IN NYC at 54 Below

Mauricio shares all his thoughts on all musical theater in this fun, informative q&a.

By: Feb. 24, 2023
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Interview: Mauricio Martínez of 5'11, BASED IN NYC at 54 Below Mauricio Martínez is back at it, and he's back at 54 Below, and not a moment too soon. The Mexican leading man has been busy doing the symphony concert circuit outside of the city, and working with his hermano Jaime Lozano on some musical theater, but the cabaret and concert scene of NYC needs its annual dose of Mau's magic. Thankfully, he and his friend and director Robbie Rozelle have created 5'11, BASED IN NYC, an all-new show about the life of an actor, self-tape submissions, and musical theater, musical theater, musical theater. In fact, Mr. Rozelle informed this writer that every song in this new show is from a musical play. So, for fun, I asked Mauricio if he might play a little rapid-fire q&a game with me. He said yes, and we have some of his most personal thoughts on musical theater for all his fans and followers.

5'11, BASED IN NYC will play 54 Below on March 5th at 7 pm with a live stream. For reservations in person click HERE and for the live stream click HERE.

This interview was conducted digitally and is reproduced with minor edits.

My all-time favorite musical is: that's a hard question to answer because there's so many that have touched my heart. But I guess if I had to choose one, it would probably be West Side Story, because of what it means to the genre and what it did to musical theater. Plus, we're talking Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerome Robbins, Shakespeare. Come on now. It's like the Bible of musicals. There's literally a before and after West Side Story.

Interview: Mauricio Martínez of 5'11, BASED IN NYC at 54 Below

A musical theater role I would love to play that goes against my type is: I would love to originate the role of Diego Rivera in the upcoming Broadway musical about Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. My brother, Jaime Lozano is composing the music and I got the chance to perform Diego's aria at a concert at Lincoln Center last year and just fell in love with the music, with the lyrics...and I love how passionate that man was and how much he loved Frida. Theirs was a toxic yet deeply loving relationship and I think the complexity of the man I've read so much about is what attracts me more to the idea of playing him on the stage. Of course, physically, if you take a good look at Diego Rivera, and then look at me, we have absolutely nothing in common, other than the fact that we are both artists from Mexico. But his physique and mine are complete opposites. Who knows? Maybe with prosthetics & makeup...you never know. But I feel like a character actor should play him and I'm seen more as a leading man.

Interview: Mauricio Martínez of 5'11, BASED IN NYC at 54 Below

Interview: Mauricio Martínez of 5'11, BASED IN NYC at 54 Below The Broadway song that will make me cry any time I hear it, no matter who is singing it is: I have a couple. One is Somewhere from West Side Story. And the other isn't really a song but an instrumental piece: John Nineteen Forty one, from Jesus Christ Superstar. I just start balling my eyes out whenever I listen to it. I remember vividly when I played Jesus in Mexico, after Jesus is crucified, I just could not stop crying once this beautiful piece started. Tears kept rolling down my face. It's very moving. And so, so beautiful. It might be my favorite ALW composition.

A musical theater duet written for two men that I would love to sing (and my ideal singing partner) is: Lilly's Eyes from Secret Garden with Norm Lewis. I mean, come on! That would be a dream.

The show tune that will always make me happy is: Tomorrow from Annie. It always makes me smile. It's such a simple song yet the lyrics are truly uplifting. It's like an instant antidepressant.

Interview: Mauricio Martínez of 5'11, BASED IN NYC at 54 Below

The musical I can always see, in any town, in any theater, in any language is: Probably Cabaret. I have seen it in Spanish, English and German. And Evita. I'd love to see it in many languages. I love that show so much.

Interview: Mauricio Martínez of 5'11, BASED IN NYC at 54 Below The Broadway performer who has always been my North Star is: my natural response would be Barbra Streisand, but she hasn't really been on Broadway in 60 years. But I do admire everything she's done. Not only as an actress, singer, and Director, but as an activist, as well. And she does come from the theater. I also respect the careers & body of work of Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell. And I loved Marin Mazzie. What a talent! I got to see her several times and was always blown away by her. She was the definition of class.

The actor of any gender that I would like to play opposite in specific roles in a specific musical is: I'd love to do Funny Girl with Jessica Vosk. She's the perfect Fanny Brice for me. And I would love to be her Nicky Arnstein.

The show tune that helps me process anger or a bad mood is: Gethsemane from Jesus Christ Superstar has definitely been a song that has helped me heal. I remember the first time I played Jesus, I had just recovered from my first battle against bladder cancer. I was so angry at God, so that song really helped me work through so many emotions. It still does to this day. I'll never forget the day I had to sing it in front of Andrew Lloyd Webber himself the day he cast me in his musical memoir Unmasked three years ago. I started the song in English and didn't realize I ended it in Spanish. I ended on the floor, crying. I got the job right there.

Interview: Mauricio Martínez of 5'11, BASED IN NYC at 54 Below

Thanks to the evolution of diversity casting in theater, a role that was, once, out of my reach but, now, could go on my possibilities list is: Phantom. King George. Billy Flynn. Come to my concert on March 5th and you'll see all the roles I'd love to play one day. I've also had this idea for some time now: a gender bending production of Chicago would be amazing and so much fun to do. And I'd love to be the male Velma.

The show tune that has gotten me the most jobs is: Probably "If I Can't Love Her", from Beauty & The Beast. I played the Beast in Mexico City 15 years ago and that song has always brought me luck. That one and Gethsemane, for sure.

Interview: Mauricio Martínez of 5'11, BASED IN NYC at 54 Below

A musical theater duet written for a man and a woman that I would love to sing (and my ideal singing partner) is: I mean, I would absolutely love to sing "All I Ask Of You" from Phantom with Audra McDonald. And while we're at it, "The Last Night Of The World" from Miss Saigon with Lea Salonga. Can you tell I'm a 90's kid? Lol.

The musical I can sit in a theater watching while mouthing the words to every song and every line is: Phantom Of The Opera. I know it by heart. It is perfection. I recently saw it again with some friends that were visiting from Mexico, and as soon as it was over, I ran to my apartment and played the whole album and sang both Raul and Phantom songs. My neighbors got a concert that night. They never complained so I guess they enjoyed it.

Interview: Mauricio Martínez of 5'11, BASED IN NYC at 54 Below

The Broadway musical (that I was not in) window card that hangs on my wall is: this might sound funny, but I don't have posters of Broadway musicals in my New York apartment, other than the autographed one from On Your Feet! But I did that one, so that doesn't count. I used to have a lot of them back home in Mexico but now they're somewhere in storage...I love to get an original playbill from the original Funny Girl with Barbra Streisand. That would definitely be up in my wall. And now that I think of it, I do have a special playbill from the opening night of the recent revival of Company that I should probably frame, it has Sondheim on it.

Interview: Mauricio Martínez of 5'11, BASED IN NYC at 54 Below

The show tune that I sing almost every day is: right now, Music Of The Night in Spanish. The Mexico City production translation. I'm singing it at 54 Below on March 5 and I've never sung it in Spanish before. And since I'm so used to singing it and knowing it in English, I've been drilling it in my head. It's a haunting translation. It's almost like a new song. And Marta from Kiss Of The Spiderwoman. What an absolute beautiful song that one is!

All photos provided by Mauricio Martinez.



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