A native of Monterrey, Mexico, and resident of New York City, Mauricio Martinez’s ongoing “fifteen minutes of fame” have spread like wildfire throughout his native country and the US with his heartthrob good looks and critically acclaimed appearances on stage and screen, in both Spanish and English, as an actor, singer, and dancer.
Following his early training at the center of Difusión Cultural del Tec de Monterrey, the 17-year-old triple threat came to NYC to continue his studies at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy and The School for Film and Television. After graduation, he moved to Mexico City, where he gained national attention in the competition show Operación Triunfo México (a Mexican equivalent to American Idol), then began his work on popular Mexican telenovelas and films, and in the lead roles of Spanish-language versions of such beloved Broadway musicals as Beauty and the Beast, Saturday Night Fever, Sweet Charity, and Jesus Christ Superstar.
Martinez became known to US audiences through his brief appearance on the hit TV series Sex and the City, but got his big break when he was cast as Emilio Estefan in both the Broadway and national touring productions of On Your Feet! (while simultaneously undergoing chemotherapy and beating bladder cancer). He has performed with his good friend and colleague composer/musician Jaime Lozano in the New York Musical Festival’s Children of Salt and in cabaret concerts of Songs by an Immigrant at Joe’s Pub and The Green Room 42, as well as debuting his own nightclub concert Mauricio Martinez: De Mexico to Broadway at Feinstein’s/54 Below, all addressing the Latino experience in America and his own personal journey – themes that are very close to his heart.
Presently starring at New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse in the world premiere of Unmasked: The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Mau graciously agreed to take fifteen minutes out of his busy performance schedule to take our pop quiz about his life, career, and fame.
1. Which moment in Unmasked do you most enjoy performing?
Mau: It definitely has to be “Gethsemane” from Jesus Christ Superstar. I played Jesus in Mexico when I turned 33, so it’s always been a very special song; but this is the first time I performed it in English, so it’s extra special.
2. After being in this show, is there one song, role, or musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber that you would most like to do in the future?
I would love to play the Phantom because it is my mother’s favorite musical. Every time she comes to New York and I take her to see a show, she always wants to go see The Phantom of the Opera. So I take her, and the minute she comes out, the first thing she asks me is: “When are you going to be the Phantom?” I’d love to see her face when she gets to see me dressed as Phantom.
3. Is there anything your fans don’t know about you that you would like to unmask?
I’m pretty open with my followers through my social media and I like to share aspects of my life and my journey that I think could probably inspire them and make them smile. But I would like to unmask that I enjoyed the movie of Cats!
4. If you had a pet cat, what would you name it?
A small puppy named Frida would make me very happy.
5. What’s been the most exciting experience of your career to date?
I’ve been blessed to have numerous exciting adventures in my personal career. Getting the honor to play Emilio Estefan on Broadway and then becoming friends with both him and Gloria Estefan is definitely one of my highlights. And performing at the Kennedy Center Honors with the cast of On Your Feet!
6. You’ve done it all, but which do you prefer: live theater, cabaret, tv, film, or recording?
It’s always fulfilling to switch gears into a different medium such as film, recording, or television right after I finish a theater run. I enjoy every facet I have as an artist, but if I were to choose one, I would stay with doing concerts. There’s something quite profound in opening your heart and being yourself, not playing a character. And of course, singing and talking to a live audience is incomparable.
7. What’s the one thing that always gets you on your feet?
The smell of fresh coffee or the alarm clock when I’m running late!
8. What three emotions did you feel when you made your Broadway debut?
Joy. Excitement. Awe.
9. Which city have you most enjoyed visiting on tour?
Washington, DC. It’s so beautiful, elegant . . . and grand. I absolutely loved it.
10. What do you love most about living in New York?
Living four blocks away from Central Park is definitely a blessing. And having theater, live music, museums, and so many different cultures everywhere I look.
11. What do you miss most about Mexico when you’re away?
My Mom, the food, my friends . . . and the prices of things!
12. What three things do you always like to have in your dressing room?
Water, my nebulizer, and crystallized ginger.
13. As a cancer survivor, what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about life?
It may sound like a cliché, but after four battles against cancer, I’ve come to the realization that life is a moment and we must make the most of it. That’s why I live so fully. When I laugh, I LAUGH. When I cry, I CRY. There’s no gray area in my life; it’s all or nothing.
14. What’s the most fun about being famous?
Fame is ephemeral. I can’t lie; it does feel nice when you’re recognized on the street or in the subway or in a restaurant But it’s mostly a feeling of satisfaction to know that my work is reaching people. That is what makes me smile – that my work means something to people. It didn’t go unnoticed and I touched someone’s heart. That’s what it’s all about. I’m past that stage in my twenties where I let my ego take control. That’s no fun.
15. What’s your biggest dream for 2020?
I’m working on my third album which is going to be my first English language recording, so I’m very excited about that. And I think starting off the year performing in Unmasked and working with Andrew Lloyd Webber was a dream come true!
Thanks, Mau, for sharing a fabulous fifteen minutes of your flourishing fame with us and your fans everywhere!