New York’s Heredia enjoying the West Coast life

Courtesy photoTony winner Wilson Jermaine Heredia plays Pasko in Berkeley Playhouse’s production of “A Little Princess.”

Courtesy photoTony winner Wilson Jermaine Heredia plays Pasko in Berkeley Playhouse’s production of “A Little Princess.”

Casting Tony Award winner Wilson Jermaine Heredia in its upcoming production of “A Little Princess,” Berkeley Playhouse undoubtedly has scored. But for the actor, it’s just another adventure in his career and his relatively new life as a West Coast resident.

Although he’ll always be a Brooklynite at heart, Heredia — best known for his portrayal of cross-dressing Angel in the Broadway and film versions of “Rent”— loves Northern California.

“I fit into the culture. I love the food and the huge collection of people, how they’re socially and politically conscious — and the sun,” he says.

In “A Little Princess” — the 2004 musical by Andrew Lippa and Brian Crawley based on the beloved children’s novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett — he plays Pasko, the first mate on a ship on which protagonist Sara Crewe sails. He likens their relationship to that of a big brother and little sister, but says his character “is an extension of her imagination.”

One reason he was thrilled to join the show —which opens this week at the Julia Morgan Theater — is due to its heavy use of cool effects, including shadow puppetry.

“It’s no run-of-the-mill musical. We make shapes, we make camels, we make trees,” he says, adding the work is not unlike what he did as a young thespian and crew member on varied projects in New York, including working with prominent puppeteer Ralph Lee.

While he began acting professionally at 17, he says his “true education” in the field was onstage in “Rent,” which he began doing off-Broadway at 23, before it changed his life — and theater — forever.

“It was a trip in personal psychology. I was young, I wasn’t prepared for it. I was part of a big machine,” he says. “Not only was it a big commercial success, it also played a huge role in the way alternative lifestyles are perceived.”

After the craziness of the “Rent” phenomenon, he took a break. He also focused on his personal life, a journey that, after years, has brought him to California, where he met his wife.

More recently, he finished a gig as Lancelot in San Francisco Playhouse’s production of “Camelot,” a role he loved but found exhausting, with its swordplay and heavy physical demands. He does have one role to which he looks forward — if only someone would give it to him.

“I want to be in a superhero film,” says the longtime comic book lover and super-serious student of the form. “I’ve been an ardent fan since I was 3 — I feel like I deserve it!”

IF YOU GO

A Little Princess

Presented by the Berkeley Playhouse

Where:</b> Julia Morgan Theater. 2640 College Ave., Berkeley

When: 7 p.m. most Thursdays-Fridays, 1 and 6 p.m. most Saturdays, noon and 5 p.m. most Sundays; closes Dec. 8.

Tickets: $17 to $60

Contact: (510) 845-8542, ext. 351, www.berkeleyplayhouse.orgA Little PrincessartsBerkeley PlayhouseWilson Jermaine Heredia

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Health care workers in the intensive care unit at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, with Alejandro Balderas, a 44-year-old patient who later died. Even in California, a state with a coronavirus vaccination rate well above average, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has nearly doubled in the past two weeks, according to a New York Times database. (Isadora Kosofsky/The New York Times)
Why COVID took off in California, again

‘The good news is: The vaccines are working’

Unscrupulous, boundary-pushing executives seem to be an inescapable part of the most exciting technology. (Timo Lenzen/The New York Times)
Why tech innovation invites a breed of unscrupulous hucksters

By Shira Ovide New York Times I’m angry about startup founders who… Continue reading

Salesforce Tower in San Francisco, which features a comprehensive water-recycling system, on July 30, 2021. Water recycling in office buildings is seen as a promising sustainability effort, as well as a smart hedge against rising costs and future shortages. (Jim Wilson/The New York Times)
Salesforce Tower is part of a nationwide water recycling trend: Here’s how it works

By Patrick Sisson New York Times When Salesforce Tower in San Francisco… Continue reading

Most Read