As a child actor, Brandon Espinoza appeared on Broadway in Les Miserables, Big, and The Will Rogers Follies. He then returned to Broadway in the Bernadette Peters Gypsy and the short-lived musical Tuck Everlasting. Off-Broadway, he's appeared in TRIASSIC PARQ: The Musical and Who's Your Baghdaddy, and currently Brandon can be seen in the thrilling new drama about a polyamorous relationship, What We Wanted. BroadwayBox caught up with the absolutely hilarious actor and writer to talk about trouples, the time he went on as young Eponine, and much more.
1. Before friends and family come to What We Wanted, I tell them:
No, I cannot get you tickets to Dear Evan Hansen let alone Hamilton…..then they usually cry. After I calmed them down with some ice cream and finger puppets, I tell them this: “What We Wanted centers around a throuple and all the complications that come with this relationship (which is something that theoretically seems so exciting and fun but can get very, VERY muddy). Then add a college age daughter into the mix along with her high school dropout boyfriend, and all bets are off.
What else? It’s also about love, want, desire and how people navigate those feelings, from two college-age kids to adults in a long term marriage now involved in a polyamorous relationship. And I get to make out with Kerry Warren a lot.
2. The biggest thing the show taught me about polyamorous relationships:
Relationships are hard enough when it’s just you and your partner. We, as emotional human beings, will connect with lots of people in our life. It’s when the boundaries become blurred once that door opens for another person in the relationship, and it becomes easy to almost disregard one person’s feelings for your own self-satisfaction. More power to you if you can do it, though.
3. The thing I like most and least about my character, Dale:
It’s really hard to judge a character I am playing. Three awesome things about him: he is very trusting, he is incredibly loving, and he is funny (even if no one else thinks so). I don’t view him as unlikeable in any way because, well, I’m playing him. HOWEVER…..he DOES think with his, um, Lil’ Richard way more than his brain, which can cause some problems.
4. My most memorable audition story:
That is a tough one. I have had so many bad ones, rarely any good ones. Let’s just say one audition fairly recently involved me forgetting pretty much all my lines, and at times scrambling through pages to find where my next line was. Oh, and mind you, the scene said I was drunk, so I somehow decided when I would forget my next line to “act” more drunk, and the reader was blatantly laughing at me for most of it while the casting director could barely look at me. It wasn’t a comedic scene by any stretch, but I was clearly a joke. Good times.
5. Credit on my resume that taught me the most about myself:
Playing the role of Al in the Keen Company’s revival of Robert Anderson’s Tea and Sympathy which, amazingly, I did at the Clurman Theater almost ten years ago (which is where our play is running). I had an incredible (maybe unhealthy) amount of insecurity as an actor at that stage of my life. Once I knew I was going to be doing it, all of this self-loathing and insecurity set in. I was certain after our first rehearsal our director (Jonathan Silverstein) would realize what a terrible decision he made and I would be fired immediately (though thankfully that didn’t happen). That show was a tremendous learning experience for me, and a huge part of it was being under the direction of Mr. Silverstein. So thanks, man. And if you didn’t catch Keen Company’s production of Tick Tick…BOOM! (directed by Mr.Silverstein) you really missed out because it was fucking phenomenal.
6. Credit on my resume that pushed me the most as a performer:
Playing Riff in West Side Story at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. It was emotionally and physically the most challenging rehearsal process/show I have ever done. It seriously kicked my ass. Also sustained my worst show injury to date, so safe to say I dealt with a fair amount of obstacles for that duration of time. When all was said and done, it was truly one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had as a performer.
7. My most cherished memory as a child on Broadway:
A buddy of mine wanted me to tell this gem, so…..11 years old playing Young Eponine in Les Miserables. I was supposed to be Gavroche that evening, but two of the three girls were sick and I was the last resort when it came to the Young Eponine role (mind you, all she does is act like an asshole to Young Cosette and doesn’t speak or sing at all). Stage Management said it “rarely happens, if ever” BUT IT DID. My mom got the call walking me home from school, proceeded to look at me and laugh. I didn’t believe it until I was standing in the wings with a bonnet, blonde wig and a dress on. You’re welcome, Neil Haskell.
8. The moment I knew Neil Haskell and I had to create together:
He threatened me. Aside from that, we have been friends for some years now, but when we worked together in Tuck Everlasting is where we really clicked in regards to our similar sense of humor and love for antiques and Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. We also were both rocking a man bun during that rehearsal process, so we figured “let’s collaborate on some sketches” and then we did a sensible high five, missed each other’s hands, then walked out of rehearsal while the Perfect Strangers theme song blasted in the background (It’s an old sitcom reference. Look it up, kids). We are currently trying to work on some new things together for 2017, which hopefully will come together in the coming months, so look out for that for those who may actually care (hey, mom and dad). In the meantime, check us out on Instagram under @neilnozasketch as well as on YouTube and Facebook. Shameless, Brandon. Just shameless.
9. The movie I love so much I know every single word:
That's an easy one. Zoolander. Also, Almost Famous. I can almost hear the sound of the ladies swiping left on my imaginary tinder page. I know left isn’t good, folks.
10. Last TV show I binge watched that you should binge watch too:
Stranger Things. I also started re-watching Breaking Bad, because it’s still my favorite television series, bitch.
Don't miss Brandon Espinoza in 'What We Wanted' at off-Broadway's Clurman Theatre through January 15.