Alma Cuervo's Broadway Scrapbook: On Your Feet, Wicked, Beauty & The Beast & More
March 24th, 2016
by Alma Cuervo
It may be Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s musical but audiences over at On Your Feet! are obsessed with Alma Cuervo and her performance as Gloria’s supportive, funny, and wise grandmother, Consuelo.
Below, Cuervo shares with BroadwayBox her Broadway scrapbook, filled with rare backstage photos and unheard stories.
On Your Feet (Consuelo), 2015
Photo by Bruce Glikas
I’ve never been somebody that waits for the applause or expects it in any way, but it’s so overwhelming to be in a curtain call where I’ve done so little in the show but feel that love coming up. It really means a lot to me and I didn’t think it ever would.
Photo by Bruce Glikas & Matthew Murphy
I haven’t done very many Latin parts. Early on, I saw immediately I would be typed into doing that, and I didn’t want to because there are other things I wanted to do. But I feel like now this is full circle; this was the one I’ve been waiting for. She’s all love. Everything she does is to help somebody. The real woman was a very big inspiration.
Allegro (Grandma Taylor, Mrs. Townsend), 2014
John Doyle is one of my favorite people in the world. I’ve done three shows with him, and he makes you feel so authentic. Everything with him is so honest and simple. After every rehearsal, he goes around the room and says, ‘Ok. Thoughts?’ And everybody has to say something or he’ll pick on you if you’re being quiet. You really feel a sense of ownership over the whole process. He’ll make all the decisions in the end but you’re a part of it and you’re heard. It's like being in college again in terms of the authentic sincere commitment and joy he brings to the room. He’s as good as it gets.
Fool (Queen), 2014
After Theresa Rebeck did Smash, she wanted to do an oblique reference to it in a play about art and power. She got a lot of her anger out but in a way that if you didn’t know what she was talking about you’d take it to generically be about when art is being produced who gets to make the choices. It’s also about farts—there are all these fart jokes that we had to tech for two days just to get the farts right.
Into the Woods (Cinderella’s Stepmother), 2012
These costumes were so strange. In this production The Narrator wasn’t also The Father; he was a man with a marionette theatre and so we would all start out dressed like marionette puppets then become who we were. It was really good and really different.
Road Show (Mama Mizner), 2008
Photo by Joan Marcus
It’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever done. To get to rehearse a song while Sondheim is working a crossword puzzle right there while he listens to you is the most amazing thing—I could die then. That was it; it had happened—it was my biggest dream ever.
Wicked (Madame Morrible) 2006-2008, 2011
I love that role and I love that show. I’d love to do it one more time because the good thing about Morrible is you can do her until you’re pretty old.
I think Morrible finds someone in Elphaba who she wanted to be but didn’t have the talent do be. Then there’s a betrayal that happens. She’s multi-dimensional. She’s not just a caricature—there’s quite a lot to her. I wish she had a song but I wish they all had a song.
Wit (Vivian Bearing), 2002
I didn’t want to do Wit. I thought I could never improve on Kathleen Chalfant’s interpretation, but it was Josephine Abady directing and she was dying of cancer, and she directed it as she was dying. She’d take chemo in the morning and work with me in the afternoon. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I’ll carry it with me always. She died about four weeks after we finished the show.
Titanic (Ida Straus, 3rd Class Passenger), 1997
We were going down in previews. We had such technical troubles. When the ship went down the stage was on hydraulics and we’d have a lot of trouble with it—so we’d get almost all the way through the show and have to stop and send people home. With a title like that and the movie coming out, we knew we were targets.
It didn’t get good reviews when it opened, and then Rosie O’Donnell had us on her show and it literally saved us. Then we got five Tony nominations and won everything, and it shifted the show to being a hit. It was pretty, pretty special. I’ve never sung so much in a show. I think Maury [Yeston] had written my song with his grandmother in mind so I knew it would never be cut.
Beauty and the Beast (Mrs. Potts), 2004
I had always wanted to do Beauty. I kept going in for it and being told I was ‘too edgy’. I was the second to last Mrs. Potts. I did it for about two years and it was beautiful…and hard. I’m proud to have been part of it.
You couldn’t even go up to your dressing room in those costumes. You just sit on a camp stool till the next entrance. And I was going through menopause, and it was the hottest damn costume I’d ever been in in my life. It was glorious.
M. Butterfly (Helga ), 1991
This was LA and the crossover you had to go outside the building and hope it didn’t rain.
Ghetto (Ooma), 1989
The show was very controversial. Elie Wiesel wrote a whole big article in The Times about how you tell stories about the Holocaust, which hurt the show’s run. Ghetto tells about certain Jews who were made to be part of the Jewish police and work for the Nazis in order to stay alive. It was a very dark, dark story and it was very moving. The actors were so committed to this story, and it was a story that hadn’t been told yet. It was important.
This is a party around Ghetto, and this was like the Hamilton of its day in that they mixed the cast up like crazy—it wasn’t just Jewish actors. All different kinds of people played the Jews and the story got told. People didn’t look at that past the first minute.
Avner Eisenberg was an amazing clown who does magic, and in the show he was a ventriloquist and he was also doing the voice of the ventriloquist dummy as well—which I don’t think Tony voters knew. He was amazing. We all had to stay really white, so we’d play baseball in the shade. Our team was always under the tree…and we were terrible.
Bedroom Farce (Susannah), 1979
This was the first show I’d ever done on Broadway in a lead, and this moment was the first time I’d ever seen the poster. We were going to Sardi’s to eat and I walked by it and was shocked.
Uncommon Women and the Others (Holly Kaplan), 1977
It was the first show I did in New York and Wendy Wasserstein was a very, very dear friend. We had gone to Yale together. There’s a book about her that only has about half the story. I included this because I love those people so much. Yes, winning an [Obie] award gets your parents off your back for a while but it was a wonderful experience. It was one of the big joys of my life.
See the wonderful Alma Cuervo in her 15th Broadway show, 'On Your Feet!', at the Marquis Theatre.