‘Go into every experience with joy and excitement’: Victoria Gomez on performing at the Helen Hayes Awards

The Catholic University grad recently seen at Ford's in 'Little Shop of Horrors' enthuses about her career so far and her next gig at The Anthem.

By Andrea Pedemonte

On a quiet Monday morning, I spoke with Victoria Gomez about finishing up her last semester at college while attending back-to-back rehearsals and performing in Little Shop of Horrors at Ford’s Theatre, one of America’s leading stages. As a newly minted college graduate from Catholic University with a Bachelor of Music in Musical Theatre, the joyful soprano chatted via video call about her professional career, so far, in Washington, DC. 

Born in Chihuahua, Mexico, Gomez moved to the United States with her mother when she was five years old. Residing on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Gomez said, she fondly remembers listening to her grandmother’s music around the house. She pursued the performing arts throughout her K-12 school, beginning to work professionally during her junior year of college. 

Victoria Gomez. Photo courtesy of Theatre Washington.

As she hung up her cap and gown, Gomez and I discussed her senior year, her role in Little Shop of Horrors, and her upcoming performance as an ensemble member for the Helen Hayes Awards at The Anthem on May 20. Gomez was excited to share that she had just received the Department of Music’s Outstanding Artistic Achievement Award in Musical Theatre by a Student. Below is an abbreviated version of our conversation. 

Dre Pedemonte: What a busy time for you. What have the last couple weeks looked like for you as a graduating senior?

Victoria Gomez: I just graduated college, which is so weird to say. But it is really exciting. I graduated from Catholic University with a BM in musical theater. I originally chose Catholic because I did a summer musical theater intensive in 2019 when I was in high school. And then, obviously, the pandemic hit and we were still applying for colleges. I applied to a bunch of different ones, but I also applied to Catholic because I had an inside look into it and I really loved it. They ran the intensive exactly how the [academic] program goes, and I was exposed to the world of DC theater that I didn’t even know about. Honestly, I went to school for musical theater knowing nothing about musical theater except that I loved it. I started and eventually began working in DC professionally in theater junior year. 

What was your first professional production in DC?

My first show was Little Women at NextStop Theatre. I played Amy after their original actress dropped the role. Someone sent me their Facebook posting looking for a new Amy and I remember thinking, “Oh! I will submit to this, why not?” And then I ended up getting it, and ever since then, the ball has been rolling, which is really exciting. This year specifically, last summer before school started I was a swing in The Bridges of Madison County at Signature. And then my next thing after that was A Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theatre and then after that was Little Shop. Little Shop of Horrors started in February and closes next Saturday. Last Saturday at graduation, I had people asking me, “How is Little Shop? How long is it running?” and I responded, “It closes a week from today,” which was crazy to think about. I think with theater especially you just never know. I’m doing Little Shop and I didn’t know what I was going to do after. I auditioned for something, but I didn’t get it, and I auditioned for another thing and I didn’t get it. But then the Helen Hayes opportunity came up so now it’s like I do have something and it is an overnight thing. It is like whiplash but in a good way. It’s exciting to be doing Little Shop, rehearsals for Helen Hayes, graduation, and finals. Also for seniors with a Bachelor’s in Music, we have to do senior recitals and showcases. We had two showcases, one in DC and one in New York, and an hour-long recital each. That was also a really beautiful moment where my school and work lives blended together. I feel like these past couple of weeks have been a wonderful celebration of the career I’ve had in school into the professional theater world here in DC.

Considering the trajectory you have been building, where did this love of theater and performing come from?

Originally I was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, and I came to the States with my mom when I was five years old. We moved to Easton, Maryland, and I grew up there ever since. It’s not too far from DC, but once you cross the Bay Bridge it is a completely different world from DC. I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember. My mom says when I was little I could sing before I could talk, and that is really nice of her to say but I am sure I was just making baby sounds. But my abuelita, my grandmother, was also a singer and very musical. There was always music in the house and she was always playing the piano. I remember I always felt comfortable singing, I think I got that from my abuelita for sure. In the fourth grade, I saw a musical at school and I just loved it! I was so excited to be old enough to start doing the shows. And eventually, my first show was Tarzan Jr. 

Tarzan! What a great rock musical for you to start with. As you were growing up as a singer in your household, what was the first professional stage production you saw that absolutely captivated you?

So this wasn’t a production but I really remember enjoying the Phantom of the Opera movie. I remember when I was eight or nine my mom bought two movies for a movie night at home. One was a cartoon movie and the other was Phantom of the Opera. I didn’t want to watch the musical at first, but she put it on and I was glued to the scene. I loved that movie, which is so funny because it was really campy, but also Christine had super curly long hair. I was like, this is perfect, I can play this role one day. 

I remember watching that film for the first time, I was so freaked out by Gerard Butler’s performance of the Phantom. Based on your love of the movie, what would you say is your dream role in any production? 

This might be a little mainstream but Eurydice in Hadestown. That is a huge dream role. And dream show honestly would be any role in a production of In the Heights. That has always been such a special show.

You know there are so many metropolitan theaters doing great work across the country. Transitioning more to your work here in DC, what does the DC theater scene mean to you and how would you describe it? What sets it apart from other theater communities?

The first word that comes to mind is community. I have been so fortunate to work in a couple different theaters and in every single production I have done I have made new friends and felt immediately welcomed with open arms. It is a very supportive community from everything and everyone that I have experienced. It is also incredibly passionate. Every show I have been in, there has been so much passion and working together, it feels like we are one giant machine. Everyone is just working together to present the best work we can present.

This tends to be a hard question for some performers, but so far in your career, what has been your favorite production in DC?

[Exhales.] Hmm, I think A Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theatre. I played multiple roles, I was the beggar woman, Mr. Fred’s sister, and I was also in the ensemble. It was so fun to make different characters and choices for all three of them. For the role of beggar woman, I was in rags and as Mr. Fred’s sister, I was in this insane pink gown. It was working with kids and people my age and people older than me, and that created this sense of community. It being a Christmas show made it more special. 

You talked about your inspiration for music and singing from your family. Have they been able to come to see your shows? What has that been like for you to share your work with them?

My mom is my rock and has been my #1 supporter in my life. It’s just me and my mom so the support has always been so mutual and important in our relationship. She comes to see every show I am in; she has seen Little Shop like four times already. I could not do anything without her help. 

I know you are performing as a part of the ensemble for the Helen Hayes Awards at the Anthem on May 20. With graduation just happening and entering your closing week for Little Shop of Horrors, what has your rehearsal schedule been looking like?

I have been preparing for Helen Hayes for the last couple weeks; it is exciting and nerve-racking! I have never actually been to Helen Hayes. I was originally going to go this year because I was in Seussical at Keegan Theatre and the ensemble is nominated for Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical. But then I got this email asking if I would like to perform in the ensemble, and I said of course! It has been a lot of fun with the other performers in the ensemble and the hosts for this year. It has been wonderful to meet these new people I will be working with directly in the ensemble. 

What can we expect from this year’s awards ceremony?

We are doing group songs and dances as well as little solos before the design awards are announced. It has been a lot of fun; we have been rehearsing at some different theaters. And it has been a fun collaboration to work with all of these artists in DC that I had only really heard about but never met. Now this is another group of people I can add to my list of people I have worked with here in DC. 

In three words, how would you describe your experience with preparing for this year’s performance for audiences?

Gratitude, celebration, and excitement. 

I can totally see that audition rooms are often the scariest stage of a production. I know you have so much going on right now, but while you are finishing and preparing for new projects, what can we expect to see you in next? What is to come this year in 2024 for Victoria Gomez?

I’m excited to share that I will be in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical at Olney Theatre; rehearsals for that start in June. While I have other projects on the way, I cannot share those details just yet. I never worked at Olney Theatre before so I am excited about that. 

You have expressed so much gratitude for your career so far in the DC theater scene, and there is so much to be said about what you are doing and what is to come as a student and young artist. What are some tools you are proud to have in your arsenal as a performer? And what sets you apart as an up-and-coming artist?

Truthfully, and I know I get this from my mom, I really go into the room very excited. If it’s rehearsal, if it’s tech week, if it’s the show, I feel anytime I am doing a show and if we are getting to the last couple scenes I get sad that it is going to end, even though we are going to do it tomorrow. I really enjoy that about myself, because I know it came from my mom. She taught me to go into every experience with joy and excitement because you are there for a reason. If it is bringing you joy, you have to just let yourself feel that. Obviously, there are times when it’s stressful, and it’s a long day of tech or it is just too much. But when it is a really special story, or project, or group of people, I feel like all the tiredness and stress goes away. I chose to be here, I chose to study this in school, and now I am doing it professionally. It is everything that I could ever want. I am so happy to be in the room, the rehearsal room, on stage, during tech, in the green room, in the dressing room, I love it. I think the only room I like being in the least is the audition room because it is just really nerve-racking. 

Thank you so much for our conversation. It was a pleasure talking with you today. I wish you nothing but the best for your future, and as always, break a leg!

Thank you so much, and you as well, have a good one.

Andrea “Dre” Pedemonte is a recent transfer student to The George Washington University continuing her B.A in English Studies while adding a minor in Journalism and Mass Communications. As a first-generation Peruvian-American, she is passionate about continuing her undergraduate degree in our nation’s capital. While she continues to become her own in her growing academic and writing career, Andrea never forgets her roots, being raised in a large and lively family household in Northern Virginia. Her passions outside of the classroom include musical theater, singing, and loads of reading.

SEE ALSO:
2024 Helen Hayes Awards to be announced May 20 at The Anthem

(news story, April 23, 2024)

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