Two-time Tony Award nominee Daphne Rubin-Vega resurrects her brilliant, haunting performance as Dolores (from Aaron Mark's off-Broadway's hit Empanada Loca) in the new binge-worthy podcast The Horror of Dolores Roach. Available through Gimlet and co-starring Tony nominee Bobby Cannavale, the podcast follows the same twisted, horrifying tale as the solo play—a dark, modern Latinx twist on Sweeney Todd told by a woman living beneath the NYC subway.
BroadwayBox caught up with Daphne to discuss the podcast, bringing the character in 2018, life underground in NYC, and more.
1. What was it like to revisit Dolores now? Was it tough to get back into this piece?
Yeah, she’s a lot of fun. Maybe there was a bit of a challenge for Dolores going from 2015 to 2018. There’s a growth and a metamorphosis. There’s a time stamp on our culture and reality since this past election. There’s a been a shift, and I think definitely Dolores in that story reflects that shift. There’s an awareness, definitely.
2. What was the most interesting you’ve learned or story you’ve heard about the people who go underground in NYC?
Before we even did Empanada Loca, I devoured a whole lot of information about that. It’s a fascinating subject matter. There’s some books and some documentary films (Dark Days and Voices From the Tunnel) that all sort of ended abruptly in the late ‘90s/early 2000s. The whole concept of going underground became forbidden. It’s undocumented territory. When Giuliani came around with his one-way bus tickets to get out, a lot of people left and a lot of people went underground. Because there are no rules and all bets are off underground, I think it’s a place people don’t know much about. Even law enforcement isn’t interested in exploring what’s down there. Now that the subway system is being rebuilt and torn up, I think that’s one way of taking stock of what’s under there and chronicle the underground dwellings and tunnels. There were tunnels that were built for the subway system that were abandoned, and there’s a lot of urban legends. It’s a source of endless fascination as a New Yorker.
3. For musical fans, there’s a such a fun Sweeney Todd tie-in. Have you ever thought about playing in the musical Sweeney Todd?
I hadn’t given it much thought, but now that you mention it, I guess I’ll have to think about it. I am a big fan. It was fun to roll up my sleeves and play with the archetype of the story. I find the story perfect for an urban legend that reflects the cannibal tendencies of this particular society.
4. What are your can’t miss podcasts?
I’m a big fan on On Being and corny stuff like Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me. In creating this podcast, the point was to create the podcast of my dreams, the podcast I’d want to listen to.
5. What was it like to experience The Jonathan Larson Project as an audience member and as a guest performer?
It’s really wonderful to remember that Jonathan was so good at his social commentary—his journalistic songwriting talent. It was wonderful to see everyone celebrating his stuff again, and it was wonderfully satisfying and a little eerie that his songs were so topical for today. He speaks truth to power in a very shameless, brave, irreverent way.
Download the can't-miss'The Horror of Dolores Roach' now, just in time for Halloween!