In Part 4 of a series of interviews with the cast of Metropolitan Youth Theatre’s Spring Awakening, meet Carlos Castillo.
Sam: Why did you want to appear in Spring Awakening at Metropolitan Youth Theatre?
Carlos: Spring Awakening is a show I have wanted to do since I was about thirteen years old. I also saw MYT’s production of Rent last summer, and was a huge fan of Chad’s work, so this seemed, by all accounts, to be the right time to do this show and the right company to do it with.
Tell me a little bit about Moritz.
Moritz is a very confused and troubled soul. He has the pressure of a lot of strict societal expectations weighing down on him, and he feels like he can never live up to all those expectations, which ends up being a bit of a recipe for disaster.
How is Moritz similar to yourself?
I definitely connect with Moritz’s intense desire to be accepted by everyone around him. I think we both constantly look for validation from others, and we both want to impress the people we respect and look up to. Also, the fact that Moritz is able to find solace in Spring Awakening’s rock score is something I can definitely identify with, since music, especially this genre of music, has always taken me to a safer place where I could really feel understood and fulfilled.
What has been your greatest challenge in portraying Moritz? How did you overcome these challenges?
My biggest challenge has been doing justice to the seriousness and immediacy of Moritz’s pain. Moritz goes through an intense downward spiral as things get worse and worse for him throughout the play, but it’s really easy to get stuck at one level if I’m not careful. I need to stay focused, engaged, and aware of how I’m feeling throughout the play so that I can continue to keep it all fresh and motivated every time we do a run.
Are there any life experiences you have faced that have helped you prepare for this role?
I connect most with Moritz’s scene with his father, since I also have the experience of not living up to my father’s expectations of how his son should grow up. Doing the role has brought back a lot of unhappy memories, but dealing with those memories has hopefully made for a more honest performance, and helped me work through some of my own personal issues.
Vocally, the fact that I grew up listening to rock music and playing in bands has definitely helped me prepare for the raw, edgy way that Moritz sings in the show.
How have you interpreted Chad Vann’s vision for the show; how has he helped you to develop and mold your performance?
Chad is incredible to work with. His concept brings the musical back to a lot of the themes of the original Wedekind play upon which Spring Awakening is based. We are exploring a lot of the Greek Theatre parallels that exist in both the play and the musical, and doing extensive ensemble work. Because of how different Chad’s version is, I have had to throw away all preconceptions I have had about my role from watching countless other actors portray it, and revisit to text of the musical and the play in order to create a new interpretation of Moritz that matches Chad’s vision.
What have you learned about yourself as an actor throughout this process?
This is definitely the most challenging role I have ever played. I think playing Moritz has ironically helped me be more secure in my own capabilities as an actor, and to let go of some of the inhibitions that I constantly feel when I am afraid that a choice I make will seem false or forced. Playing Moritz, who lives with alarmingly high stakes, I have been forced to let go of my insecurities and trust my instincts a lot more.
What is it about Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik’s score that most moves you?
Spring Awakening has always been one of my favorite musicals, because the songs are pure poetry commenting on the action of the play, rather than devices to move the plot forward. As someone who got into performing by playing in rock bands and going to basement punk shows, the drive behind Sheik’s rock tunes makes me feel at home, and Sater’s lyrics allow for an uninhibited poetry that actors rarely get to tackle.
Is there any particular moment or number in the show in which you feel you’re most able to express your inner feelings?
A number that surprisingly brought up a lot of feelings in me is “And Then There Were None.” I originally delivered the song with the vocals in mind first, but Chad’s staging requires me to trigger an escalating level of desperation as Moritz’s options run out. The way the song is now staged takes a lot more out of me as an actor, but it has made me bring up some inner frustrations I myself didn’t even realize I had.
Why should audiences come see your production of Spring Awakening? What makes the production different from others?
I think the fact that this production is coming from such a young director with such a bold take on the show makes it the ideal production to see, especially of a show that is so well known and has been done the same way so many times. While I promise you will get your fill of teen angst that one expects when seeing Spring Awakening, I also think you will get a raw, real glimpse into the humanity of these characters and the real dangers that come when parents fail to communicate with their children. Finally, I think that this cast is filled with some of the most dedicated and talented people I have ever met, and they tell this story beautifully. Get your tickets before they’re gone!!
Meet the Cast of Metropolitan Youth Theatre’s ‘Spring Awakening’: Part 2: Quentin Araujo.
Meet the Cast of Metropolitan Youth Theatre’s ‘Spring Awakening’: Part 3: Lexi Rhem.
Meet the Cast of Metropolitan Youth Theatre’s ‘Spring Awakening’: Part 4: Carlos Castillo.
The series of interviews are by Sam Cornbrooks.