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Kevin Del Aguila almost said no to 'Some Like It Hot' on Broadway

This interview is part of New York Theatre Guide's Road to the Tonys series on artists whose unique or long journeys with their show culminated in a nomination.

Gillian Russo
Gillian Russo

Most of us disregard texts and calls from unknown numbers, especially when the sender offers an opportunity that's too good to be true. Like, say, a potential part in a new Broadway show called Some Like It Hot. Kevin Del Aguila, naturally, was caught off guard.

"I was on vacation at Disney World, and [Some Like It Hot composer] Marc Shaiman texted me. And I don't know Marc Shaiman, so I said, 'How did you get my number?'" he recalled. "He said, 'Look, somebody recommended you; I'd like you to come record a demo of a song I've written for this Some Like It Hot musical."

Little did Del Aguila know that the musical, adapted from the classic Billy Wilder film of the same name, would go on to be the most nominated show at the 2023 Tony Awards with 13 nods. One of those is a Best Featured Actor nomination for Del Aguila — his first Tony nomination — who plays the lovestruck millionaire Osgood Fielding III.

His character falls for the main character Daphne (J. Harrison Ghee, also nominated), who eventually reveals she's not precisely the person he assumes her to be. The character begins the musical as Jerry, who disguises himself to escape the mob but later embraces Daphne as a key part of their identity. In an update from the movie's optimistic yet ambiguous ending, when the millionaire shrugs and simply says "nobody's perfect" in response to this revelation, Osgood proudly accepts his lover wholeheartedly.

Though the Tony nod suggests Del Aguila was destined for success in the part, there were many moments where things could have gone much differently. He came into rehearsal "basing the character off [his] memory of the actor Joe E. Brown in the movie," he said — simple and happy-go-lucky.

"[The creative team] said, 'That's great. That's working so well with what we've got.' I said, 'Well, isn't he like that?'" Del Aguila remembered. "They were like, 'He's a bit more of a dirty old man in the movie, [so] this innocence you're bringing to it, and sense of play and wonder, is great."

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His "faulty memory" proved an asset, but that wasn't his only stroke of luck. Back at Disney, Del Aguila spent the rest of his vacation learning the song Shaiman gave him — "singing on the teacups [ride]" — but "botched it spectacularly" when he went to record it.

Luckily, the song got scrapped, so the creative team asked Del Aguila back to record a new version. The second time proved a charm, and he landed a part in the initial reading. That led to an offer for the Broadway premiere in November 2022.

But Del Aguila, also a writer, was developing a Netflix show at the time. In fact, he had decided to forgo acting altogether until Shaiman reached out. Those aforementioned readings and workshops conflicted with Netflix's deadlines — and the streaming platform gave him an ultimatum: Some Like It Hot or the Netflix show. Suddenly he had a choice to make.

"It's the first time that I haven't been able to work out writing and acting at the same time," he said. "I spent many sleepless nights thinking, 'Am I going to say no to this [Broadway] show?' And my wife said, 'You cannot say no to this show.'"

"And then Netflix's stock tanked and they got rid of all these shows they were developing, so I didn't have to make the choice," he revealed with a slight grin. Little did he know fate was leading him to the Tony Awards.

Read more Road to the Tonys interviews with 2023 Tony Award nominees.

Top image credit: Kevin Del Aguila. (Photo by Michaelah Reynolds)
In-article image credit: Kevin Del Aguila in Some Like It Hot. (Photo by Marc J. Franklin)

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