Q&A: Rodriguez has multiple jobs with Stageworks/Hudson

David Tass Rodriguez has nothing against television or the movies; he has dabbled in those venues fr

David Tass Rodriguez has nothing against television or the movies; he has dabbled in those venues from time to time and most likely will do so again. Still, nothing gets his blood boiling like performing live on stage.

Rodriguez is currently doing just that in the Stageworks/Hudson production of “Gutenberg! The Musical!” running through June 29 at the Max and Lillian Katzman Theater in Hudson. Rodriguez plays Bud, who, along with Doug, played by Billy Kimmel, performs a series of musical numbers and scenes at a backers’ audition for their new splashy musical about the inventor of the printing press, Johann Gutenberg.

A regional premiere for Stageworks/Hudson, “Gutenberg! The Musical!” won three New York Musical Theatre Festival awards and was nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award.

Rodriguez, a Red Hook native, performed last month at Proctors as General Santa Anna in “General Desdemona,” part of the New Plays Festival, and has worked on stage throughout New York and the Hudson Valley, including the Rhinebeck Theater Society and the Gilbert & Sullivan Musical Theater Company in Poughkeepsie.

A 1994 graduate of Red Hook High School who went on to earn a BFA degree in acting from the State University of New York College at Purchase, Rodriguez was hired by Stageworks/Hudson founder and producing artistic director Laura Margolis on Jan. 1 to work as producing artistic associate. His duties include serving as director of Stageworks/Hudson’s Summerstage, a summer theater arts camp for young people.

Q: How did you get into performing?

A: It was an incredible outlet for me, and provided me with the opportunity to be a part of other worlds. I was always interested in history and I loved doing the research to find out about other people and places, and I loved the whole package, the idea of transforming myself into another world and another person. Working on plays was a very exciting project when I was a young kid, and I had some very interesting teachers that encouraged me to continue in the field.

Q: You’re doing a lot of musical theater these days. Has that always been the case?

A: I sang in the high school chorus, but if somebody had told me while I was at Purchase that I’d be doing a lot of musicals, I would have laughed. No, no, I was into Chekhov and Shakespeare. So, I had no background or training in musical theater when I got out of college, but when I got out of school it seemed like musical gigs were the only ones out there. Fortunately, I got some on-the-job training working with some really talented directors. It was kind of a crash course, but as long as it was live theater I wanted to be a part of it.

Q: What do you like about “Gutenberg! The Musical!?”

A: It’s folly for folly’s sake. It’s a romp, and I fell in love with it right away. What makes it so funny is the naivete of the two characters. These two guys really believe they’ve written one of the great pieces of art of all time. As them, we get to play a huge range of characters. So it’s an awful lot of fun. They’re sensitive guys who are naive to the whole business end of the theater business, but they have dreams, and those dreams are enough to keep them going.

Q: Why did you take the position at Stageworks/Hudson?

A: When Laura [Margolis] contacted me last year to come in and volunteer with their annual gala, I got a chance to meet the company, and I knew some of the actors who had worked here before. Eventually, I want to go back to school and get a degree in arts management to figure out what it is we actually do in this business. I’ll probably be doing some stage managing and help us continue to create our own work in our New Plays Festival. I’m also going to direct our summer program, so I will be experiencing all the aspects of the business.

Q: Do you have any desire to do television or the movies?

A: The movies and TV are very interesting to me, but the theater is definitely my first love. It’s a little like the difference between painting and sculpting. They’re both art, but to me they’re two totally different mediums. There’s nothing wrong with TV or the movies. They’re fine. But for me it’s not the same experience as carrying a live theater show every evening and connecting with a live audience. That’s the part I really love.

Categories: Life and Arts

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