Eden Espinosa was one of the most exciting belters to arrive on Broadway in the early 2000s; in fact, I have a very vivid memory of hearing the California native sing for the first time, performing a thrilling, roof-raising “Meadowlark” at Joe's Pub that received a thunderous ovation. She then went on to Broadway success in Wicked, Brooklyn (has anyone ever belted higher than she in “Once Upon a Time”?), and Rent. In addition to her stunning vocals, Espinosa is also a passionate interpreter of lyrics, and she recently scored raves for her work in the Broadway-aimed musical Lempicka. It's an especially busy time for the gifted actor, who is currently starring in the national tour of the Tony-nominated revival of William Finn and James Lapine’s Falsettos and will also be seen this summer in a new Off-Broadway production of the Lizzie Borden-inspired rock musical, Lizzie The Musical, at the Pershing Square Signature Center. But, for now, Espinosa is playing Trina in the acclaimed revival of Falsettos in a cast that also includes Tony nominee Max von Essen as Marvin, Nick Adams as Whizzer, Nick Blaemire as Mendel, Audrey Cardwell as Cordelia, and Bryonha Marie Parham as Dr. Charlotte.
We recently asked Espinosa to pen a list of her most memorable nights in the theatre; her responses follow.
Broadway Debut as Nessarose in Wicked
I was the original standby for Elphaba, but I also understudied Nessa. When I first joined the company, they were in tech, and I was told to just focus on Elphaba at the moment. Well, time went on, and I eventually moved on to learning Nessa. I had already learned the material and had one understudy rehearsal under my belt. I got the call on a Saturday morning that I would be on for the matinee. All I really remember is Sean McCourt pushing me out in the first Shiz scene and my smile being so big that people were looking at me funny. That feeling of the lights on your face, the audience being in the dark, the realization that this was my first time in Oz, and not only that....my first time on Broadway.
Closing Night of Rent on Broadway
Rent was the first musical that really spoke to me as a human being. It was the first time I heard music like that in a musical; it was the first time I heard voices like that in a musical. I had to be in it. I auditioned a bunch of times when I was 18....always got called back and never quite got there. Auditioned for the movie.....Nope. Then I received a call asking if I would be interested in playing Maureen in the final cast on Broadway. The whole summer was one of the best of my life. Telling this story, saying those words, singing this music. We were all an instant family. But that last performance was on another level. The audience filled with fans, family, and every former Mimi, Roger, Angel, Collins, Joanne, Maureen, Mark, Benny, Alexi, Steve, Gordon, Mark’s mom, “Seasons of Love” soloist, etc. The energy and emotions were electric. You could literally feel the love. We were vibrating. I’ll never forget at the end seeing the original cast in the wings watching us, crying with us, in the theatre where they laid the groundwork for us to continue on the path they created. I will forever be grateful to have been the last Maureen on Broadway. It doesn’t suck that it will forever be captured on film as well.
Closing Night of Brooklyn on Broadway
An opening of a show is always exciting. But as bittersweet as closings can be, they are my fave. It’s the last time you’ll share these moments. The last time you’ll wear these clothes, the last time you’ll hold someone’s hand, sing these notes. It’s especially poignant to close a show that you originated. The journey it took to get there....hopes that it would’ve lasted longer. The closing of Brooklyn is a night that is always close to my heart. The five of us up there, proud of what we created, really taking each other in, and throwing every ounce of energy out to that audience. It was magic.
Trina in National Tour of Falsettos
I can’t think of one reason why. There are too many. But the main theme as to why this role and this show will always be a favorite of mine is because I was so resistant to it and what it had to teach me. Or I didn’t even know it at the time. There was a particular moment when I finally fully gave in to Trina and everything she wanted to teach me. It was when we became friends. When I finally stopped playing her and we became one person. I’ve never needed a role or a show more than this one right now. To teach me, to heal me, and to help me grow. Falsettos is an embarrassment of riches, and I’m not taking one single moment for granted.
Closing of Wicked in Los Angeles
The Los Angeles run of Wicked was insane. It was like singing at a rock concert every night. The cheers, the laughs, the tears, the lines around the block. (This was pre-Hamilton, people!) It was the first time that I felt true ownership over the role of Elphaba. We had created our own company, our own take on things, and we were encouraged and given the freedom to do that by our creatives, which is always a gift, especially when a show has been running for a while already. It was almost an out-of-body experience. But I’ve never felt more grounded at the same time.