With 'The Notebook,' Ryan Vasquez enters a new chapter of his career
Vasquez is originating a role on Broadway for the first time — right after appearing in four world-premiere musical productions across the country back to back.
Ryan Vasquez is a rising theatre star who’s on a roll. Just check out the rapid succession of juicy roles he’s tackled in the last two years. Vasquez, known for stepping into supporting roles in Wicked and Hamilton, now originates the lead role of Noah in The Notebook on Broadway. Following odds-defying lovers Noah and Allie across decades, the musical — based on Nicholas Sparks’s 1996 book and the 2004 film adaptation — features songs by Ingrid Michaelson and a book by Bekah Brunstetter.
Vasquez comes to the show at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre after playing Noah in the musical's 2022 pre-Broadway run in Chicago. Over the next year, he went on to play lead roles in Water for Elephants in Atlanta, Georgia, and The Outsiders in La Jolla, California (now playing on the same block as The Notebook this Broadway season) and in Walk On Through off Broadway.
All four of those Vasquez-led productions were world premieres, and putting together a show from scratch is a ton of work. “To have done that four times in a row was definitely a marathon,” Vasquez told New York Theatre Guide. “It’s emblematic of hard work and opportunity – and that theatre is booming.”
Read our complete interview with the actor about originating a role on Broadway for the first time, how he chooses his projects, what audiences can expect from The Notebook, and more.
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How does it feel to originate a main Broadway role for the first time?
I've always tried to take work that I respond to rather than work that's available. That has often made me necessarily patient, which is not a trait that I have in spades. It feels in many ways like the obvious next step, so I'm both excited and feeling settled and prepared for it.
How did you choose The Notebook from your three back-to-back pre-Broadway shows?
I had an incredible time doing all of those shows. Truly. The Notebook, for me, really embodies a true whole breadth of humanity. I was really drawn to that.
Can you say more about that?
This is a show that has an expectation of being a simplified love story. The musical is its own entity. There’s this very human understanding of what it means to be in a relationship both from Ingrid's lyrics and from Bekah's book. That was a big draw to the show for me.
What Bekah and Ingrid and our directors [Michael Greif and Schele Williams] have done is truly delved into a deeper understanding of what it means to not just be in a relationship, but what it means to live a full life. There's something to looking back in life at all the decisions you've made. Life is long and complicated. It’s beautiful to be able to zero in on that.
How familiar were you with The Notebook book and movie before doing the musical?
Prior to my involvement in the show, I hadn’t read the book. I had seen the movie in theatres way back; I remember it was the opening weekend. I was young, but I remember people bawling and having this visceral reaction to the movie. A lot of it went right over my head, but I still have flashbulb moments of the performances.
On stage, like in the book and film, Noah and Allie share a passionate kiss in a downpour. Is the water cold?
It’s been warmed up for Broadway, that's for sure. They keep it in a huge holding tank in the basement and they run it through a heater. If we look cold, it’s acting.
How did you first get into acting?
I've always believed in the power of storytelling. That's what drew me to the arts, into theatre, in the first place. The most impactful teachers of my life were the ones who didn’t just regurgitate information, but who told these stories and made accessible and exciting stories.
What's your next musical dream role?
I did Tommy in The Who’s Tommy is children's theatre and just loved it. I thought, "Maybe I'll be able to do this professionally," and now I've aged out of it.
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Top image credit: Ryan Vasquez. (Photo courtesy of production)
In-article image credit: Joy Woods and Ryan Vasquez in The Notebook in Chicago. (Photo by Liz Lauren)
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