Had a nice chat with Tony Winner Wilson Jermaine Heredia, who is in San Francisco in “Camelot,” playing at the SF Playhouse through Sept. 21.
But before you read any more, make sure you know who I am talking about. It’s Wilson Jermaine Heredia and not Wilson Cruz. I joked with Heredia about how he is mistaken for Cruz as many times as Dylan McDermott and Dermot Mulroney are mixed up.
So yes both men are HOT. Both were born in December (almost the same year) and both are from Brooklyn. And okay, so they both have played Angel in “Rent.” Besides that and the name Wilson, they are definitely two different men. And for the record, Heredia originated the part of Angel and that’s the role that won him the Tony Award.
Now we know who we’re talking about…Heredia is stealing hearts and new fans alike with his wonderful performance as Sir Lancelot in “Camelot,” which has been given a fresh spin by the SF Playhouse. This is Heredia’s San Francisco theatrical debut – and we will see a lot more of him as he’s now a Bay Area resident.
“I fell in love with San Francisco when we filmed ‘Rent’ here a few years ago,” he says, when almost the entire original cast of the Broadway musical came to town to film the movie version. Heredia remembers how meeting up with the cast was like old times. Since they have stayed in touch and were very close-knit, it was very much a reunion.
“I think our bonds were so strong because of the emotion in the show and the sadness surrounding it,” Heredia said addressing not only the AIDS related theme of the film but the tragic and sudden death of show creator Jonathan Larson, who died at age 35 on the night of the first Off-Broadway preview of “Rent," never having known the success he created or to enjoy its rewards, including his posthumous Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize.
Heredia gets intimate with his characters. Even when he was here for “Rent,” he opted not to stay at a hotel, but instead lived in the Mission, where he felt very much at home and was able to get into character. “The Mission reminds me of Brooklyn,” he says, “as it’s very provincial with mom and pop restaurants and a real sense of community.”
The food of San Francisco is definitely one of the factors that attracted Heredia back to the Bay Area. He also likes the people as they “are socially aware of various issues and offer informative opinions.”
His return to the Bay Area may have been a year ago, but Heredia spent that time getting used to his surroundings, exploring the area and getting into his own routine. Once settled, he then started to see what shows are out there and he found “Camelot.”
He was drawn to the show not only because of SF Playhouse’s intimate setting and reputation, but his part in "Camelot" has a lot of fight scenes, enabling him to utilize his martial arts training. “Doing fight scenes is really just like dancing in a show,” he says, pointing out that it’s all choreography. He says shows go through a lot of rehearsals so that they can ensure that it’s always safe for the actors and the audience alike. Heredia does remember a scene in “Camelot” where someone goes sliding across the stage with a dagger in their hand and, one time, it did fall out. So to ensure that situation is remedied, different steps are taken to ensure “safety above all us.”
While “Camelot” comes to an end Sept. 21, Heredia certainly has a lot of irons in the fire. Some he’s not ready to talk about but there is a movie coming out soon that “will show me in a whole new light.” He’s also reviewing some of his own productions and reading for other parts.
We will definitely see him again in the Bay Area – if not on the stage, but perhaps visiting some of his favorite places in the Mission. But before you run up and say hi, make sure you’re talking to the right Wilson!
See him now in “Camelot.” Get tickets and information at www.sfplayhouse.org.