"Call Me Adam" chats with Latin singer and Venezuelan theatre star Migguel Anggelo about his upcoming album release concert for La Casa Azul at Joe's Pub on Monday, April 20, 7:30pm, directed by OBIE Award winning actor/director David Drake! Click here for tickets!
1. On Monday, April 20 you are returning to Joe's Pub, but this time celebrating the release of your new album La Casa Azul. What are you looking forward to most about this release? My Musical Director Mau Quiros and I have been working for a couple of years on our sound that utilizes strings as the core. La Casa Azul is the culmination of that work, and we look forward to everyone’s feedback.
The album includes several songs that are narratives like the title cut which is the story of Frida Kahlo’s life, an artist that I have long admired. There are many inspirations that come from our Latin American roots. The song "Que Paso con El Hijo de la Luna" (What Happened With the Son of the Moon) is an answer to the Spanish pop group Mecano’s song "Hijo de la Luna" (Son of the Moon) that was a HUGE, HUGE hit when I was growing up in Venezuela. Their song was a beautiful metaphor that really touched me, and my song answers the unanswered questions that their song posed.
All of the album is filled with poetry and metaphors, and I am looking forward to performing live to share a fuller vision on the stage.
2. What made you want to come back to Joe's Pub? Joe’s Pub is one of my favorite places in New York! I love the intimacy, history and the creativity of the Public Theater – you feel it in every chair, on the stage, in the walls! The folks that make Joe’s Pub tick from Shanta Thake to every server are just wonderful, but most of all, I have such respect for the mission of Joe’s Pub and The Public – they really champion difference. It’s a place where not only an immigrant like me with a strong accent can have a chance, but where my difference can be an asset. I feel very blessed to find a performance venue like this that feels like home.
3. This show will be directed by OBIE Award winner David Drake. How did you two come to work together and what has been the best part about collaborating with David? Oh, David is such a sweetheart and such an incredible talent! This has been a fantastic collaboration, and I look forward to working with David again and again. I am very lucky to have gotten advice and feedback from some very smart and generous folks in the industry – Dick Scanlan and Christine Jones have both been so generous with their time and thoughtfulness and through them, I was introduced to David. David is a brilliant writer, and beyond the writing and his laser sharp direction, he ALWAYS has a smile on his face.
4. How do you feel you and your music has grown with the release of La Casa Azul? I think this is a more sophisticated album (than my last) that merges many of my influences from childhood through adulthood – everything from pop music to opera, traditional Latin folk music, boleros, classical, and jazz. I am proud of how these perhaps disparate notes come together to make a new sound. One of the songs on the album, for instance, the classic bolero "Piensa En Mi" (Think of Me), is reinterpreted as a tango but with some electronic sounds. That song is a wonderful example of taking tradition and making it contemporary.
5. What do you hope audiences come away with after attending your concert? I’m a storyteller. Of course, my shows are about my love of music, but they are also theater, and we are telling stories on stage that touch upon art, history, immigration, homelessness, and dictatorship – all through my eyes as an immigrant that has lived in many places. I hope people walk away from the show thoroughly entertained, but also touched by the poignancy of the passions, struggles, and desires that we all share regardless of where we are from.
6. What do you enjoy most about performing live? I love the audience. In live theater, you never know how the audience is going to react, what will happen, and how, as a performer, I need to react to it. The adrenalin from being on stage and having that connection is like nothing else.
7. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Julie Andrews and Freddie Mercury. Seriously. When I was a kid and saw The Sound of Music, I was hooked and wanted to be able to sing all the high notes that Julie hits, but I was also blown away by Freddie Mercury’s theatricality. I know they might seem like different ends of the spectrum, but they both hold a lot of influence over me even today.
In addition to being a singer, you are also a classically trained ballet dancer. Both of these artistries allow you to express yourself. How do you express yourself through music that you are not able to through dance?
Of course, the lyrics of a song can tell a whole different story than just movement. In my perfect world, dance and music are married and happily in love.
8. What's the best advice you've ever received? It may be a little corny, but I believe it to the depths of my core -- my mom taught me to never stop dreaming.
9. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? Being a performer, I am always humbled by the realization that no matter how much experience or knowledge I have, there are ALWAYS new things to learn, and I am very open to learning. The truth is, coming to New York and English being a second language, I have rewritten a lot of my songs that were originally in Spanish to English, and I speak in English on stage. The truth is, this is VERY, VERY hard for me, but I am excited about what I am learning every day, and whether Spanish, English, or Chinese, honest emotions on stage are universal.
10. If you could have any super power, which one would choose? If I could have any super power, it would be to transform the hatred in people to that of love and respect. I know that that is perhaps less thrilling than flying, perhaps, but that would be my dream.
11. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it and what ingredients would you put in it? I would name a drink after my grandmother: The Lola. It would include dark, Indian chocolate, ginger, and vodka.
12. Favorite way to stay in shape? I love to run over the Brooklyn Bridge. That run never loses its romance.
13. Boxers or Briefs? Briefs. And if there is a color choice? Black.
"I’ve always been obsessed with music. My father, a chef, was constantly singing and listening to music while tending to his own craft in the kitchen, while my mother, a ballet dancer, always danced around the house to Spanish boleros or classical music."
For someone whose early life was filled with such a range of artistic influences, Migguel Anggelo could have limited himself to one of the many talents that came naturally to him, acting, dancing, singing, writing, and painting among them. Instead, he chose to do it all.
Born in Venezuela, Migguel Anggelo first fell in love with the theater as a child playing Pinocchio, a character that battles with fact and fiction. It was then that he discovered the integral role of fantasy in storytelling, and began to imagine real and imagined characters that could illustrate the many facets of his own experience.
He trained for a dozen years in classical ballet and studied opera in the Conservatory of Music in Cologne, Germany. He loves the drama and discipline of opera and the explosive whimsy of pop. He counts Luciano Pavarotti and Freddy Mercury as two of his biggest influences and, with his multi-octave voice, pays homage to them by jumping easily from operatic aria to rock anthem.
He has performed on many of the world’s greatest stages, including Teatro Teresa Carreño in Caracas, Venezuela; Teatro Insurgentes in Mexico City; Teatro de Bellas Artes in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Teatro Nacional in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic; Teatro Jorge Eliezer Gaytan in Bogota, Colombia; Teatro Lola Membrives and Teatro Gran Rex in Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Burgen Zentrum Theater in Cologne, Germany.
He writes poetry and lyrics that walk a fine line between confession and invitation. He performs live shows with elaborate orchestration and staging that feel like a rock show one moment and an operatic dream the next. He dances with the ease of a child whose parents never told him to sit still. He creates sculptural portraits of people—historic and contemporary—in the form of chairs made from all kinds of unlikely materials, from matches to yarn. He paints images using simple and innocent gestures, leaving one to wonder what the true story is. Migguel Anggelo is a story teller.
In one song, he explores the complexities of love as an old cello falls in love with a harp. In another, he illustrates the power of delusion through the story of a homeless woman who has one-sided conversations with the White House. Most recently he has transformed himself into the fabled Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, the subject of his forthcoming album, The Blue House.
Anggelo’s evolving body of work reminds us that the way a story is told is as important as the actual story itself. Summoning all of his gifts—song, poetry, drawing, physical gesture—Migguel Anggelo creates theatrical metaphors that blur the boundaries between performance art and popular music. For Anggelo, this is just the beginning.