Priscilla Cuellar is currently appearing in Nevermore at Creative Cauldron. Her past credits include Assassins, Saving Aimee, and Into The Woods at Signature Theatre and playing Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray at Riverside Center Dinner Theatre. Priscilla has a beautiful voice and a commanding presence on stage. When not on stage – she can be found working for an insurance company. Doing a 9 to 5 job and performing at night is not easy. As you will read – Priscilla has a plan to juggle both careers.
Have you always been interested in performing?
I’ve always been dramatic – that’s for sure- although I didn’t truly become interested in performing until my junior year of high school. I was at a new school I had only attended for a couple days and decided to audition for Annie without knowing a single soul at the school. I was so scared and nervous as I sang “Tomorrow”, and I walked out of the auditorium and cried all the way home. I was so sure I didn’t get cast and I didn’t even bother to look at the cast list. Then about 3 weeks later – a classmate of mine who happened to be playing Daddy Warbucks – asked me why I hadn’t been in rehearsal. I had been cast and didn’t even know it! Luckily, the director allowed me to be in the show, and I was hooked from then on.
What do you consider to be the production that was your big break in the DC area?
It would probably have to be Assassins at Signature Theatre. It was my first professional show in the area. It offset a string of shows I did at Signature and eventually other theatres in the area.
You starred in Hairspray at Riverside Center Dinner Theatre. Because the venue is so big – did you find you had to play things broader than in a regular-sized theatre?
It is probably the biggest space I’ve performed in. Of course there are always considerations and changes that have to be made in a larger space, in your movement and volume. Since not everyone in the theatre can see facial expressions, we had to tell the story with our voices and bodies. But, it is Hairspray! Everything is already bigger and broader! And luckily, we had a great a director/choreographer in Mark Minnick who helped us tackle the space so well we didn’t even need to think about it too much.
By day you work for an insurance company. How do you juggle the two careers?
It can be really hard for a lot reasons. I have to be very good at time management, or try to be. It can be tiring working 9-5, driving in rush hour traffic trying to warm up my voice on the way to a show, getting home late, and getting up and doing it all over again. But, the lack of sleep and time become very small problems once I hit the stage. All the stress of every day ‘normal’ life disappears and makes it all worth it.
What is your favorite role that you have played so far?
I would probably have to say playing Mother in Nevermore. I know, I know you think I’m just saying that because the show is currently running and I’m trying to shamelessly plug it, which it only has one more weekend for everyone to catch it!! But, Nevermore and this role have a sort of history for me. It was one of the first shows I had ever seen at Signature back in 2006. I was immediately in love with it. The story and especially the beautiful music.
I met Matt Conner that night, which was probably a more memorable moment for me than him. Then a couple years later, we became fast friends when we both were in Assassins at Signature and began recording new songs he was writing together. I was able to get my hands on one of the demo recordings of Nevermore and I literally listened to it non-stop for months, and continued to keep coming back to it for years after. It would come up on my ipod and would I text Matt telling him I NEED to do this show!
I have been waiting for years for this and am beyond happy I finally get to do it. And with Matt Conner directing, it’s just the icing on the cake! I absolutely love playing the character, Mother. It gives me a chance to play a part that’s different than anything I’ve ever done. I am excited every night to go onstage to perform it, and fear I will go through a deep depression when it’s over. Thank goodness for margaritas!
Watch Priscilla sing “Good Morning Baltimore” from Hairspray.
Watch Priscilla sing “I Can Hear the Bells” from Hairspray.