Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Spotlight On...Vinnie Urdea

Name: Vinnie Urdea

Hometown: Alamo, California (in the San Francisco East Bay)

Education: BFA from NYU Tisch (Lee Strasberg Institute and CAP21)

Select Credits: Dogfight (Eddie Birdlace) at Old Library Theatre [NJ Premiere], Fatty Fatty No Friends (Mark) at NYCFringe, Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money (Agent 3) at Atlantic Theatre Company, I Hope They Serve Beer on Broadway (El Bingeroso & others) at George Street Playhouse/Gorilla Rep,

Why theater?: Theater always spoke to me. I always loved watching people do things, inhabit characters far from or near to themselves, and I was very young when I started to think “Hey, I wanna do what those guys are doing.”

Who do you play in Beware The Chupacabra?: I play Teddy Baskins, a dressmaker and inventor who goes on a quest to find the mythical Chupacabra to earn the hand of the woman he loves. He must travel to horizons beyond his ken and find his bravery and his backbone in order to get what he wants out of life.

What is it like being a part of Beware The Chupacabra?: It’s a wonderful experience! This is my second Fringe show with Mind The Art Entertainment and they are just a wonderful team to work with.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I like theater that feels immediate and colloquial – anything too heightened or conceptual doesn’t speak to me in the way that it does to others. It’s tough, because anything too naturalistic tends to be put on film instead of on a stage, but I like theater that feels like people talking, and talking about real things – the plays of Annie Baker and Theresa Rebeck come to mind, or Stew’s musicals Passing Strange and The Total Bent. I like when theater artists speak about something important to them, not necessarily important to everyone all the time.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: I like originating roles that people haven’t played before – I think it’s a lot more fun than trying to purposely subvert the expectations and tropes associated with a certain role.

What’s your favorite showtune?: Showtunes are tough, because I feel like that’s a slightly antiquated idea, of a big production number that everyone is humming to themselves on the streets as they leave the theater; you just don’t see a “Hello, Dolly” or a “Tradition”-type showtune much anymore. But as for songs that I found myself humming even after only having heard them once in the theater, what come to mind immediately would be “Superman” from Fortress of Solitude by Michael Friedman, “Fly By Night” from Fly By Night by Will Connolly, Michael Mitnick, and Kim Rosenstock, and “Place To Go” from No Place to Go by Ethan Lipton and his Orchestra (although I’ve subsequently listened to them many times over on the soundtracks after having seen the shows).

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: In theater, I’d love to work on a Michael John LaChiusa musical – his work speaks to me in that it is music composed to sound like people talk, not the other way around.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I’d like to be played by a Bananas-era Woody Allen, and the film is probably in development hell so it doesn’t have a working title at the moment.

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: The original cast of Parade. That show is a musical feast, and I’ve never actually gotten to see it in a production, so I wish that I could’ve seen the original cast perform.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: No Place to Go by Ethan Lipton and his Orchestra – it was the best musical I’ve seen in maybe 10 years, and it was just Ethan spieling and singing with an alto sax, standup bass, and an electric guitar to back him up. It was personal, it was beautiful, and it was genuine. Seek it out.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: I have no guilt about it at all, but I love football. Football is what I spend most of my time thinking about, the rest is all just frosting.

What’s up next?: A couple workshops of some new musicals, and then it’s my birthday just a few short days after Chupacabra closes, and then off we go into the wide blue yonder!

For more on Beware the Chupacabra, visit