Aurora actor lands a starring role in Paramount musical
By Matt Hanley firstname.lastname@example.org September 12, 2012 7:08PM
Kenickie, played by Aurora native Adrian Aguilar (center), dances with Betty Rizzo, played by Jessica Kingsdale, during the musical number "Born to Hand Jive" during the opening performance of the Broadway musical "Grease" at the Paramount Theatre on Wednesday, September 12, 2012. | Jeff Cagle~For Sun-Times Media
Second act for Broadway Series
The Paramount Theater’s second Broadway Series season started Wednesday. This season’s lineup includes:
Sept. 12 - Oct. 7
Nov. 21 - Dec. 30
The Music Man
Jan. 16 - Feb. 3, 2013
Fiddler of the Roof
March 6-24, 2013
Subscriptions start at $69.80 for four shows. Call (630) 896-6666 or visit www.ParamountAurora.com for more info.
Updated: September 18, 2012 3:02PM
Fifteen minutes after the curtain went down on the Paramount Theatre’s first performance of “Grease,” Adrian Aguilar wandered out to the lobby, carrying some bottled water.
He had just finished a two-hour, singing-and-dancing performance where he played one of the lead roles: the rough and rude Kenickie. Musical theater is already more physically demanding than the audience could ever realize, but Wednesday had an extra challenge: one of the show’s main props wouldn’t budge between scenes, so Aguilar had to push it off stage.
This was after Tuesday’s 11-hour final rehearsal, which had ended around midnight. And did we mention that Aguilar started Wednesday with an early morning workout? (Besides being a full-time actor, he owns a personal training company.)
But as he walked into the lobby, Aguilar was... Exhilarated. Energetic. Animated. He was practically bouncing as he described performing in a theater a few blocks from where he grew up. He seemed to be, well, fresh.
“Yeah, people sometimes feel lazy when they’re around me,” he said, laughing.
It’s an energy he’s shown since he was kid growing up in Aurora and Oswego. Once, as a kid, he played a pirate in a production of “Peter Pan” while also working as a stage manager. In one scene, he jumped off the plank, then ran through the set to get the sound controls.
They aren’t making him turn off the lights in “Grease,” the first show in the Paramount Theatre’s second Broadway season. But the outspoken 27-year-old actor, singer and dancer plays a major role on a stage in the historic theater where he once sat in the audience.
Children’s theater start
As a boy, Aguilar lived in Aurora — on South Avenue, about a half mile from the downtown theater. When he was 7, Aguilar and his brother, Alexander, did children’s theater at the Paramount’s Copley Theater, across the street from where he’s now one of the stars.
His family moved to Oswego when he was about 13. He attended Traughber Junior High and graduated from Oswego High School in 2004.
Meeting him now, it’s hard to imagine that he stopped acting in junior high so he could sit on the couch and be lazy after school. But freshman year at Oswego High, he tagged along as his girlfriend tried out for the school play. And he got the lead as the Tin Man in “The Wiz.”
At 19, Aguilar and his brother were hired as professional actors before they had even graduated college. (Alexander Aguilar is also a professional actor, who has appeared on Broadway and recently finished the national tour with the musical “Memphis.”) In acting, he found the passion that class work never sparked. He’s worked steadily ever since. In 2011, Chicago Magazine named him one of the five Chicago actors to watch.
“Grease” will be his second show at the Paramount: last year, he played Berger in “Hair.” Coming home has it’s advantages. He’s able to stay at his mom’s house after long rehearsals. And he’s used his social networks to bring as many people to the show as possible.
“I’m very proud to be on stage with the people in this show and they deserve to have as many people watching as possible because it’s so good,” he said. “They’re incredible, really.”
As he talked, Aguilar bubbled with the joy of performing and seemed startled with his good fortune of getting a featured role in “Grease.”
“There’s going to be a million people coming in and they all want to hear ‘Greased Lightning’ and I get to sing it,” he said.
Wednesday afternoon’s show ended with a standing ovation from the audience.
An hour later, the crew called Aguilar back to the stage. They had some technical aspects to work on. He had one more performance that night, then six shows in four days. Exhausting? For some, but not for Aguilar.
“I love to be in this because people laugh when I say something or cheer when I sing,” he said. “Applause and laughter are addictive to a performer and I’ve never been one to hide from it.”