July Feature Interview: Migguel Anggelo

Migguel Anggelo is breaking barriers on the American stage, creating unique works that are reflective of the multicultural, multi-lingual, changing demographics of our country and times. The Brooklyn based, Venezuelan born artist began his career at 13 as Pinocchio in a South American touring production of the Broadway musical. He trained for a dozen years in classical ballet, studied voice at the Conservatory of Music in Cologne, Germany, has written music throughout all of his journeys as an immigrant in several countries, and has released two albums, the most recent being La Casa Azul.

In addition to performing on many of the world’s greatest stages – including Teatro Teresa Carreño in Caracas; Teatro Insurgentes in Mexico City; Teatro Lola Membrives and Teatro Gran Rex in Buenos Aires; and The New World Center in Miami, Florida – Migguel performs regularly at Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater in New York City where he was recently awarded a residency as part of the 2019 Joe’s Pub Working Group. His newest creation premiered this January: LatinXoxo: An Unrequited Serenata, a musical exploration of love and Latino stereotypes seen through a queer lens. Previous shows created for Joe’s Pub were So Close: Love & HateAnother Son of Venezuela, and I, Inmigrante, which he developed with Obie Award winner David Drake.

JRK: Before we get into the interview can you tell readers a bit about Migguel Anggelo, where you are from and all that good introductory stuff?

MA: I was born in Valencia, Venezuela. I grew up surrounded by mountains and nature. I had a beautiful childhood with a wonderful family, and I love my country. My memories and that love of my homeland truly inform my work as an artist.

JRK: The spelling of your name is unique with the two g’s in each part of your name. Is there a reason for that or is it your given name at birth?

MA: My real name is Miguel Angelo Pinto, I added the two g’s to make it unique. ☺

JRK: You have become an activist for humanity, sharing through your art what it means to be a citizen of the world. Can you explain that a bit more? What is your art, and how are you spreading your message?

MA: I am a performance artist – a singer, songwriter, dancer, actor. And the work I create is often about my immigrant experience, LGBTQ identity, and the politics of my homeland that are tragic and very upsetting to me.

As you know, my homeland Venezuela is under a communist dictatorship regime. Since Hugo Chavez Frías came to power, my beautiful Venezuela has been destroyed. So, it’s important for me to talk and sing and make sure that all the world knows about the tragedy that is happening there.

Many of my songs are very political, full of metaphors. I think that one of the big problems with humanity is that we are losing faith and our memories. People don’t remember the past, and we make the same mistakes over and over again: Hitler, Mussolini, etc.

JRK: Can you tell us about your one-man shows “Welcome to La Misa, Baby,” and “LatinoXoXo?”

MA: Welcome to La Misa, Baby is inspired by the tragic shooting at the PULSE nightclub in Orlando. Over the course of a little over an hour, I become seven characters who you might find under the disco ball at the club, and while the characters don’t necessarily know each other, they are all connected by our shared LGBTQ history and examine the gay disco as a “safe space” for our community. The play is about acceptance and love.

LatinXoXo is an outrageous concert experience where I shatter the boundaries of gender in a striptease of “Latin Lover” clichés. Within the piece, I talk to my father who died when I was very young, weaving through these characters and literally becoming the stereotypes that my father perceived me to be.

It’s wild, and fun, and moving, and it’s filled with amazing music!

JRK: You play many characters in your shows. What is the inspiration for them?

MA: Life. The people around me.

I love to transform myself with costumes. I am very visual, and costumes are central to my theatrical experience. They give me permission to channel many sides of myself or types of characters. They are also really FUN.

JRK: You are queer, and an immigrant. What is your impression of the current administration’s actions against immigrants and its basic disregard for the human condition, and what seems to be a total lack of compassion for those who are different?

MA: It’s horrible. It’s a shame and a disgrace. Divisive — -trying to grab as much power as possible. They use their power to spread racism, xenophobia, and corruption. You know, as a person that came from South America and have seen only too closely the hate that Third World Leaders spread, I worry that what we are seeing here is not that different.

Their message is hate, but they are never going to win. “LOVE AND TRUTH” is much more powerful.

JRK: What advice would you give to our youth struggling with their sexual orientation and/or gender identity?

MA: Don’t be afraid. If for some reason your family is not accepting and they close the doors to you, there are always many other doors to open where wonderful people, full of love, will open their arms really, really wide.

JRK: Pride season is upon us. After all the parades, celebrations, and commemorations are over, what do think we can continue to do to effect change in our society and foster greater acceptance and understanding?

MA: We need to show empathy towards each other. Patience. Understanding. The fact that people are different from each other is not a bad or scary or threatening thing. It’s a beautiful thing. Embracing difference is what we all need to do.

JRK: You were recently awarded a residency as part of the 2019 Joe’s Pub Working Group. Can you tell us what that is all about?

MA: Since the very first time I performed at Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater, I have called it my second home in New York. There, I write songs, hatch ideas, I meet wonderful people. It’s a truly fabulous place that is open-minded, inclusive, and they embrace artists that don’t fit entirely in a neat categorical box. I am probably a great example of that kind of artist. It’s hard to describe what I do!

Our Joes Pub Working Group is a group of five artists who meet monthly to share our work, talents, concerns, ideas, and more. It’s a wonderful platform to express our goals and to meet great people in the industry. We work to further those goals within the context of community. That’s a really nice thing.

You know, as an artist, you are alone a lot. Alone in your head. Alone in a studio. But it’s so nice to have this community of artists to step outside of our heads with.

JRK: In addition to the shows already mentioned, what else do you have coming up that readers might be interested in knowing about?

MA: I just wrote a book – a novel. I hope someday soon I can publish it.

I’m writing a musical with two wonderful artists — Christina Quintana and Jaime Lozano. It’s called The Last Supper. In it, the night before his long-awaited immigration to the United States, our protagonist Leo gathers his chosen family for a poetic final dinner where secrets are revealed, hearts break, and politics explode. We’re excited about how it is developing!

I’m working on a new album . . .

And . . . I am going to be performing at Rockwood Music Hall on July 24th! It will be my first time performing there. This one is going to be just about the music. Two guitars and music!!! https://www.eventbrite.com/e/migguel-anggelo-tickets-63347742804

Join us!

JRK: Do you have any parting thoughts you would like to leave readers?

MA: Remember . . . hate can never conquer love.

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