By Sandi Durell . . .

54 Below will be presenting Jaime Lozano for a stirring evening of songs from his show Present Perfect – an unforgettable celebration and most personal of Jaime’s musical immigrant journeys to find home. Join his all-star cast on November 8 @ 7 pm featuring Mauricio Martinez, Florencia Cuenca, Rodd Cyrus, Henry Gainza, Robi Hager, Musa Hitomi, Stephanie Lynne Mason. Music and Spanish lyrics by Jaime Lozano with book and lyrics by Nancy Cheser, directed by Rebecca Aparicio. The show is live and will also be streamed. Tickets HERE 

Florencia Cuenca
Jaime Lozano with Mauricio Martinez

SD – I note in your bio you mention Lin Manuel Miranda and his support of you in the very first sentence. That’s an amazing endorsement but it had us wondering…..How does the support of the musical community at-large versus the Latino musical community differ in terms of supporting artists and their culture? Are they one in the same? Is it important to separate them and honor each? What are your thoughts?

JL – Being completely honest, I have found a lot of support from the musical theatre and Broadway community. This is one of the things I love the most about this community, that we really honor that word, we stand for each other, of course it is not perfect, of course we are human beings, and we all have to deal with our own egos as artists and we all do mistakes but I have felt really welcomed into this community and I have had a great learning experience. I think we all are learning. On the other hand, for many years the Latino community on Broadway have been mostly actors, we have incredible Latine actors and performers but also for a long time that haven’t really had the opportunity to actually be themselves, we have been telling other stories and lately the diversity is starting to be noticed in every single layer of this industry and community, from actors, to composers, writers, creatives, casting directors, etc; and not too many but some producers. It is till now what really as Latines we are starting to create this community and we have a very long road ahead of us. And yes, it is important to notice this diversity but being different doesn’t mean that we don’t fit or belong, it means that we want to expand and be at the same tables, at the same level, and we need to collaborate as communities. Immigrants have been part of this country and especially this community for a very long time, just go back to our first musical theatre creators and many of those great artists were immigrants or descendants of immigrants. I am hoping for a more open community/communities being able to have conversations and create together. It is not a fight against each other.

SD – When you approach composing, what is the first step? How do you begin the process when it’s from scratch?

JL – There are not really rules. Sometimes I have an idea about what the song is about. Sometimes it is just a chord progression. Sometimes a hook. Sometimes a melody. Sometimes the title of the songs. Or a melody. Sometimes lyrics. Sometimes the story. Or just the character. Sometimes isolated words that rhyme between them. Whatever comes first I am grateful for. Every song, every musical, every collaboration is unique and I don’t think for me there is a right way or order. Sometimes I write on the piano, others on the guitar, others with no instrument at all. The only thing that is always there from the beginning is honesty and care about what I want to write and tell.

SD – Are there older musicals that you have always dreamed of reworking and modernizing – for example –  the recent Oklahoma! production?

JL – I have a lot of respect for the people before me. Those who develop this art form and I have learned a lot from all of them and those shows but personally I am more into writing new stories and shows. Those shows were done at the time for a reason and many of them are a mirror of the society and culture at the time, of course many of them are universal and timeless but as a creator I want to write things that people from today can relate with. I think everything is about balance and I am not against those modernized “revivals”. The thing that worries me is producers only caring about that and no new stories. There should be a balance in looking back, living the present and looking to the future.

SD –  Tell us about Present Perfect. What was your inspiration? How did the whole project come about and what would you like audiences to take away with them?

JL – The idea about this show actually came from my amazing collaborator Nancy Nachama Cheser. She has been an English as Second Language teacher for many years. She is a teacher that really cares about her students and she started learning about all the stories from her immigrant students so this has been her life project in a way and I am so grateful for her and her passion for these stories because I relate with many of those stories, those are my stories. I have been going through many of those challenges: struggling with language, feeling I don’t belong, raising a family away from my home. That is what I was talking about –  honesty – before, that is why I am writing this show, because I can speak from my experience and I am hoping the audience can connect with that. I strongly believe in community. It has been my mantra, you know the project Jaime Lozano & THE FAMILIA, everything I do is about that, about us, about my people. I want the audience to feel that they can be also part of this community, the moment we are in the same room or sharing these stories we are being part of a community and it really doesn’t matter where we are from, or our background, or the way we look. We are a community and I want us all to learn to live like that, as a community, even with our differences, even with different ideas and thoughts, we can live as a community.

SD –  You have also done film scoring. Are there more hands in that than in theater? How do they differ and which do you prefer and why? 

JL – Actually film scoring is kind of boring for me, hahahahahaha. Don’t take me wrong, I love the fact of telling stories through any media but the thing about theater is that community and collaboration feeling. I have a love and hate relationship with rewriting that is an essential part of musical theatre but I have made peace with that, hahahahaha. For me it is one of the hardest things about writing for theatre.

SD – What’s next on your  TO DO list?

JL – I feel so grateful to be busy and learning all the time from all my projects and collaborators. I am working really hard on Frida, The Musical, we are planning to have our first stage reading and workshop next year. I am having a production of my musical Desaparecidas that I wrote with my wife Florencia Cuenca and Georgina Escobar at JACK in Brooklyn this December. I am having another show at Lincoln Center, this is a dance theater piece called English with an Accent created with Venezuelan performing artist Migguel Anggelo and it is also having performances the first week of December. I am writing a few more musicals and also I am working on the second volume of my album “Songs by an Immigrant” to be released early next year with very exciting collaborations, and I am also working on an album with my wife for our project “Broadway en Spanglish”. And many more secret projects, hehehehehe