It’s back to basics with theater star

by David Dixon

Musical theatre graduate student Roxane Carrasco made quite an impression last year at San Diego State. The Broadway actress, known for starring in “Chicago,” gave memorable performances in “I Love a Piano” and “A Little Night Music.” Talking to Carrasco was refreshing as she spoke openly about her career, as well as her unconditional love for the campus.
Carrasco has so much professional theatrical experience that one questions why she needs a master’s degree. It turns out that Carrasco has yearned to go back to school for quite some time.

“I always meant to get my master’s degree. I wanted to be an expert in my field.  The reason is because in the late 80s, I had been a teaching artist of musical theater. I got to work at prestigious universities around the world, but I could never keep a tenured position. It was a problem, because I did not have an actual credential of the MFA. I chose SDSU in 2011 because I went to college in San Diego, so it seemed kind of perfect to return here.”

This summer, Carrasco has succeeded in fleshing out the part of Camila Rosario, the tough loving Puerto Rican mother in the San Diego Repertory Theatre’s production of “In the Heights.”

“I saw ‘In the Heights’ in New York and I didn’t find any affinity to her character at all. I found her a little meek and I don’t relate to her. When I read the script before this version and just focused on the text, I realized that there are many ways that I do relate to this role. I was also given carte blanche by the director, Sam Woodhouse, to make it completely my own,” Carrasco said. “Once I knew this, I looked at Camila completely differently and then I made it far more relatable to me. I sympathize with the excitement and pride you have in your child, which I possess with my son. This is in contrast with the anger of decisions being made that affect you greatly, but you are not a part of.”

The next musical that Carrasco is already hard at work on, will have her behind the scenes at SDSU. She is directing “A … My Name is Alice,” a musical revue celebrating women and features music from several composers including Winnie Holzman, who created “My So-Called Life” and wrote the book to “Wicked.” Carrasco has her game plan in place.

“General auditions are on the first week of school. I need seven undergraduate, possibly M.A. women. Strong actresses to comprise an eight-person cast,” Carrasco said.

Another big project Carrasco is working on is an Internet-based business, which she developed the past couple of years, partnering with The site kicks off in September and will give members of the musical theater community helpful information and tips.

Carrasco gives a lot of credit to SDSU for teaching her about technology. “I had no knowledge of Microsoft PowerPoint. I had no knowledge of how to effectively use technology. Now, I do and I’m thrilled. I have big-time players involved with the website including Broadway producers to celebrities endorsing and making testimonials. I couldn’t have done that without State.”

I found her advice for SDSU students upbeat and profoundly moving.

“Why wouldn’t you pursue a job in the field that you are passionate about? There are so many people who think practical versus passion,” Carrasco said. “I know men and women my age who are brutally unhappy, because they are not going to work every day to do what they love to do. Pursue and study what your passionate about, because then it’s not work.”