A performer and an alum of NYFA’s 2-Year Professional Conservatory of Musical Theatre (PCMT) program, Felipe Vasquez Encamilla, like many others, was devastated when the pandemic hit and productions shuttered their doors and performers could no longer perform live and in-person.
Now, with Broadway and other theatre institutions around the world slowly beginning to open their doors again, the performing arts world is starting to rejoice as productions are being cast and virtual performances continue, one of which is the BroadwayMania virtual production of Lin Manuel Miranda’s In The Heights, where Encamilla will perform as the Piragua Guy.
“In The Heights is one of the most wonderful musicals that I have ever known,” shared Encamilla. “It has a special value for me because the musical represents the Latinx community of which I’m proudly part. It is so important to have a voice and In The Heights is giving me a huge voice. We, as a cast, are recording videos and the audio from our own homes, and then the production and editing team do the incredible magic to put the show together.”
Encamilla came to study at NYFA in 2018, where he credited instructors like Deidre Goodwin, Michelle Potterf, Kristy Cates, James T. Lane, Kevid David Thomas, D. Michael Heath, Wysandria Woolsey, Mark Price, T. J. Mannix, Stephen Nachamie, among many others, for providing such an immersive experience in the Musical Theatre program.
“They are legends! I had heard about them in Chile before, so you can imagine how excited I was to know them [the instructors] in person,” said Encamilla. “ Another big reason for coming to NYFA was the possibility to make a movie musical in the second year. None of the academies or schools that I had seen had this in their curriculums and I consider it so important! Actually, the pandemic has made me use a lot of the things that I learned at NYFA about how to perform musicals in front of the camera.”
From playing King Herod in Jesus Christ Superstar to Pirelli from Sweeney Todd, Encamilla revealed that his favorite part of performing is the relationships formed on and off stage. “For me, it’s the relationships with my colleagues and the connections that we can create on stage. Not only because the characters have to have a connection, but also because all the good energy is reflected when you are performing. People can totally see those connections. And that is so beautiful! I think if you work with love, respect and kindness your performance always will be the best.”
As for what’s next after In The Heights, Encamilla is developing a few projects with his husband Pablo, including producing the play Llamada Entrante (“Incoming Call” written by Pablo and directed by Encamilla), which they are looking to expand after a few successful live online performances.
“We are also are writing a musical that talks about homoparental adoption, which is a huge topic for so many people, especially in countries like Chile where it is not allowed. We think that we need more representation in the Musical Theatre world: one of my huge dreams is to write more musicals that contain more representation to the Latinx Community, gay people, immigrants, and people who came to this country to contribute with their talents but so many times they are non seen.”
An advocate for the voiceless and determined, Encamilla urges those looking to expand their craft to follow their dreams no matter the circumstances. “You have to follow your dreams and make it real. It’s hard, I know. Sometimes you feel that they never will come true. Many times nobody believes in you, including yourself. But you have to find the strength to fight and don’t give up. You deserve it. Never stop dreaming!”
New York Film Academy congratulates Felipe Vasquez Encamilla on the exciting opportunity to be part of BroadwayMania’s production of In The Heights. You can see the show online, with performances streaming on May 15 at 7:00 pm ET, May 16 at 2:00 pm ET, and May 22 at 7:00 pm ET. For tickets and more information, click here.