41: Broadway Actor – Eric Anthony Lopez!

41: Broadway Actor – Eric Anthony Lopez!

41: Broadway Actor – Eric Anthony Lopez! 1500 800 nomoretokenspod

In this episode: 

Broadway actor and star Eric Anthony Lopez joins us! We chat about his experience on Fox’s American Idol, diversity in the Broadway community, and acting in the record-breaking, longest-running Broadway musical, “The Phantom of the Opera.”  

“The Phantom of the Opera” has the distinction of being the ONLY musical to continue performances SAFELY during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Eric Anthony Lopez made history by becoming the youngest actor in the Phantom franchise to tackle the leading opera tenor role of “Ubaldo Piangi,” which he is currently covering (in addition to playing “Passarino” eight times a week) on the World Tour through 2023.


Check Us Out on Social Media:

Eric Anthony Lopez: @eric.anthony.lopez

No More Tokens!: @nomoretokens

Mahesh Kotagi: @maheshkotagi

Daniel Marcha: @marchamakesmovies

EricAnthonyLopez.com


Show Notes:

[02:38] Mahesh learns a lesson on the difference between a play and a musical.

[03:30] Mahesh gets an expert opinion on the proper dress code for a Broadway show.

[05:45] How Eric Anthony Lopez got his start singing in church.

[08:38] Eric tells us what it’s like to audition for Fox’s American Idol…without a song prepared.

[10:43] Eric and Mahesh talk about diversity in the entertainment industry, and growing up not really thinking a career in the arts was even an option.

[12:28] Eric tells the story of the first time an agent told him to change his name to “help” with casting, and why he ultimately resisted and stood up for his Puerto Rican heritage.

[15:07] Eric surveys diversity in the Broadway community, and calls out who’s doing it right, and where there’s room for improvement.

[19:18] Mahesh and Eric talk about how The Phantom of The Opera’s Seol, South Korea touring show is the only show that has remained open around the world during the Covid-19 pandemic.

[20:28] Eric discusses the steps he and the company have to go through to stay safe during Covid, including masks and contact tracing.

[24:50] Eric talks about the Broadway community and how they’re fighting to help get Broadway back open safely, and help the economy of New York City.

[30:23] Mahesh tells his hilariously awkward Broadway Bollywood audition story.

Eric’s Favorite TV Show Right Now: Love, Victor (Hulu)

Eric’s Favorite Musical: Les Misérables, Dear Evan Hanson

Eric’s Favorite Dessert: Red Lobster’s Chocolate Wave

Eric’s One Piece of Advice: “Everyone’s on their own timeline. Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t. Especially now, now’s the time people want to see diverse stories. Embrace your roots and just be yourself, because there’s only one version of you.”


Links:

  • World Tour: The Phantom of the Opera
  • NY Times: How ‘Phantom of the Opera’ Survived the Pandemic
  • Washington Post: New York City can’t rebound without Broadway. And Broadway’s road back is uncertain. 
  • PlayBill.com: Senator Schumer and the Broadway League Unite to Rally for Save Our Stages Act
  • YouTube: Check out Eric’s American Idol Audition (05:39)
  • CinemaBlend: How To Audition To Be A Contestant On American Idol
  • Best Post-Broadway Show Hangout: Glass House Tavern

Episode Transcript:

Daniel Marcha (Intro):

Hey guys, this is Daniel Marcha from No More Tokens. We have a great interview today with Eric Anthony Lopez, who is a Broadway actor and vocalist. Who’s currently on the long running hit musical Phantom of the Opera. I was unable to make this episode, but Mahesh really knocks it out of the park here. This is a great interview where we get to hear Eric Anthony Lopez’s inspiring story about how he took a chance and went to an American Idol audition, where he became a finalist, and from there his career skyrocketed and he’s now he is on his dream musical of Phantom of the Opera. He also talks about how COVID has forced Broadway to take a hard look at itself in terms of diversity, not only on stage, but behind the scenes. And with Broadway being shut down, currently, Phantom of the Opera is the only musical out there running right now. Because of this world tour that they’ve been on. The New York Times even did an article covering this.

Daniel Marcha:

He goes into it all right here. Can’t wait for you guys to hear it. And when you guys get a chance, please leave us that five star review, share this episode, share our past episodes with people. We need to get the word out here about No More Tokens, and these inspiring stories that people are sharing with us. So thank you, and without further ado, here’s Eric Anthony Lopez.

Mahesh Kotagi: 

Everybody welcome back to No More Tokens with Mahesh Kotagi and Daniel Marcha. Daniel’s not here today, but joining me, we have an awesome guest. We just heard his introduction. He’s done so much, and this is the first person we’re talking to from Broadway, so we don’t know a whole lot of what’s going on over there. But I thought this was going to be a fantastic episode to highlight the work he’s been doing and for us to kind of learn a little bit more. It’s a totally different world. It’s just as competitive, if not more competitive than the acting world in Hollywood.

Mahesh Kotagi:

I’m really excited to have him on. Please help me welcome Eric Anthony Lopez. Hey, man.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

Hey, what’s going on?

Mahesh Kotagi:

Dude, thank you so much for joining us, man. We were excited to have you on. We connected through Instagram, I believe-

Eric Anthony Lopez:

Yes, we did.

Mahesh Kotagi:

… a few months ago. And honestly, man, I’m really impressed with all of the stuff that you’ve done. I’ve seen a Phantom of the Opera. It’s one of my favorite Broadway plays that I’ve seen. Would you say play or musical? See that’s how much I don’t know about Broadway. I don’t even know what to say.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

It’s interesting because I used to get so weird when I first started out, when people would be like, “Oh, you’re in that play.” And I’m like, “I’m in a musical on Broadway.”

Mahesh Kotagi:

It’s…

Eric Anthony Lopez:

You know what I mean?

Mahesh Kotagi:

Yeah. I don’t even know what-

Eric Anthony Lopez:

It’s so funny. But then you get over yourself a bit and then you say, “Oh, Broadway play.” It depends. It depends on who I’m talking to. Most people are very particular, some are not. It really just depends on the person. I know people will say, “Oh, that play has such great music.” And I’m like, “Fine.” It really doesn’t.

Mahesh Kotagi:

Okay, so… it’s a musical.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

Yeah, sure.

Mahesh Kotagi:

Okay.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

But it’s weird with Phantom, because Phantom has the word opera in it, so the Phantom of the Opera. So people think it’s an opera and they come dressed like it’s an opera, but that’s a whole other conversation.

Mahesh Kotagi:

Oh, and that’s something I want to talk to you about too. Let’s get into that. Let me ask you, it’s on top of mind, what is the dress code? Are you supposed to… Because I’ve gone to a few musicals and stuff, and there’s some people in tuxedos and then there’s some people casually dressed. I always feel like… That’s the hardest part for me is like, what do I even wear? What do you recommend?

Eric Anthony Lopez:

It’s interesting. It depends on the show. Some people are like… Mean Girls just came out a year ago on Broadway, so people will wear, “On Wednesdays, we wear pink.” It’s that big line. People, on Wednesdays, we’ll go to the show in pink-

Mahesh Kotagi:

Oh, okay.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

… or people will wear… Honestly, especially in the summertime, people show up in flip flops and whatever. I’m not going to lie. I’m in the industry. I will show up last minute to a show, in a hat and flip flops, just to get something, if the schedules align and whatever. But then like Phantom of the Opera, because it’s been around since the 80s and it has opera in the title, people dress like they’re going to the Metropolitan Opera or Sydney Opera House. They will dress in full tuxedos and full gala, and it’s crazy. And then you look up in the nosebleed seats and you see a band shirt or a Jonas Brothers t-shirt, and you’re like, “Wow, New York, man, diversity.” But yeah, it literally depends on the show and it just depends on the crowd. It literally doesn’t… It matters to a point. I’m supposed to say it matters. People are there enjoying themselves. That’s all that really matters. You can wear whatever… You can show up in a bag and it’s fine.

Mahesh Kotagi:

Awesome. No, honestly it’s such a fun experience just to attend and be able to go and see, and everybody’s so incredibly talented and it’s so different. Because it’s not something that’s, I feel like, accessible on a daily basis to everybody. And so I think that’s one of the biggest things for everybody, when they come to New York is like, “We got to go to Broadway, we got to go see a musical, we got to go see a show.” I think it’s super cool that I’m able to even chat with you about this, man. And you’ve done so many things. You’ve been on American Idol, all that kind of stuff, but where did you start, man? How did everything get started for you? What was the initial spark? And how did you develop that into where you’re at now?

Eric Anthony Lopez:

It’s so interesting, because I started doing just music in church. I was raised Catholic, so I was doing musicals there and, yeah, musicals there and music there. I just started singing worship music, which is so weird when people hear that, it’s like, “Wait, really?” I’m like, “Yeah, it was my thing.” And then I just started doing the musicals in school. I never did any outside community theater or anything or local theater. I just did whatever our school was doing. They were like, “All right, we’re doing Beauty and the Beast, who wants to do it?” And I’m like, “All right, sure. I’ll do it as a social activity.” And I was like, “Okay, good. We’ll do this.” It was fun. I could keep a tune when I was younger, so they would give me big parts.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

I felt really cool. And I was like, “All right, cool. This works out.” And then it hit a point in high school, they started casting operatic shows, because they’re like, “Eric, you have a really operatic kind of a mature voice for your age. We should get you into this.” And I was like, “Okay, whatever.” But I was never looking to do it as a career. I actually went to college for special education teaching.

Mahesh Kotagi:

Oh, wow.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

I was never on my radar at all.

Mahesh Kotagi:

Okay. Awesome.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

I was in Manhattanville college-

Mahesh Kotagi:

You’re from New York or the East coast originally?

Eric Anthony Lopez:

Yeah.

Mahesh Kotagi:

Okay.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

I was from Long Island originally, and was… Well, no, born in Brooklyn, but raised on Long Island. And I just did musicals and stuff there. And then in college, I left that behind in high school. I was like, “All right, this was cute in high school. Had some good times, but I’m not going to do this as a career.” I don’t think I even thought Broadway could be a career or musicals could be a career. It wasn’t even like, “Oh, people do that, but that’s not going to be my life. No, that’s not me.” Actually, my first Broadway show I ever saw, I’m all over the place now, but the first Broadway show actually saw was Phantom. I was 15.

Mahesh Kotagi:

Really? Okay. Wow. That’s so cool. And now you’re on it, which is like… That’s so wild.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

It’s so weird. The people who I saw, some of them are my colleagues. The conductor at that show, because there’s only one woman conductor, was the woman. She works closely with Andrew Lloyd Webber, she was kind of involved in my casting, I see-

Mahesh Kotagi:

Wow.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

… her all the time. It’s the craziest thing ever. I was a special education major. I was not about to be a musical person. I didn’t really like… I’ll be honest, I didn’t even like musical people. I thought they were dramatic. That’s kind of where my head was at when I was starting. Then, yeah, what was coming up? Randomly-

Mahesh Kotagi:

Cool.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

And people say, “Oh, was it really random?” Yes, it was random. I promise. Literally in town, when I came home from in between a semester or whatever, they were like, “Oh, American Idol’s coming to town.” I was like, “Oh the concert. Cool. I’ll go.” “No, the audition. The big stadium.”

Mahesh Kotagi:

Okay.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

And I was like, “Oh, okay, cool.” I watched it as a kid and my friend at the time wanted to go, so I went with her to this big stadium audition. It’s like nothing what you see on TV? There’s seven rounds before you… and I didn’t know that.

Mahesh Kotagi:

Oh yeah.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

So literally I show up to the audition and there’s all these booths, you can Google all this. It’s crazy. I go up and they’re like, “Here sing a song.” I’m like, “Okay.” I didn’t have a song. It was such a fun thing. I think subconsciously probably in the back of my head, I was like, “Oh, I wonder if I got through, how this would go. Just that just out of curiosity.”

Eric Anthony Lopez:

Well, I ended up singing literally to the producers of the show, I had no idea, the ABCs, seriously. And I just riffed all over the place.

Mahesh Kotagi:

Really, okay.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

And literally I was like, “I don’t have a song.” I don’t even know what was happening. I was like, “I’m just going to sing the ABCs,” and not as a joke. I sang it and riffed and did the whole thing. Cut to seven months later, I’m being screened by the Fox network and heads of… getting all these consultants and dah, dah, dah, dah, dah. And like seven months later, I’m filming the show.

Mahesh Kotagi:

Wow.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

And doing my first audition, and I was 17, 18 years old. A year after I graduated high school.

Mahesh Kotagi:

Wow.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

It was so freaking random. That’s kind of how… My career started with American Idol. The point was, with that little exposure, I was like, “Oh, let me try to get on Broadway. Let me try to do musicals.” Which is so twisted and not how it works, but in my mind, that’s what it was going to be. It was crazy. My career started with that which was kind of a big push.

Mahesh Kotagi:

There’s a couple of things that you said that really resonate with a lot of guests that we’ve had too, and I don’t know… What’s your ethnicity? Are you Latin, man?

Eric Anthony Lopez:

I’m a Latino. I’m Puerto Rican.

Mahesh Kotagi:

Oh, you’re Puerto Rican. Okay, cool. Being a minority, I feel like, I don’t know how it was for you growing up, but we don’t see people that look like ourselves on screen-

Eric Anthony Lopez:

Nope.

Mahesh Kotagi:

… very often, and especially in something like Broadway. I’m wondering if that’s changing or not. But one thing you said that really stuck out and I felt that, a lot of people I’ve talked to felt that, is you didn’t even know that this was a career option.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

No.

Mahesh Kotagi:

This is something for somebody else. This isn’t even for me. But meanwhile, you’re extremely talented, you’re doing really well. You’re progressing, you’re working hard, but for you, it’s like, “Okay, well this is just something I’m good at, something I enjoy doing.” I know you said with the American Idol thing, it was very… just a random thing. But I think people need to know, just because it’s not on your radar, doesn’t mean it can’t happen if you’re putting in the work. If it’s meant for you, it’s going to be meant for you, you know? And it’s like-

Eric Anthony Lopez:

Yeah.

Mahesh Kotagi:

That’s very cool. And then you started coming into Broadway. What was that like? What was that transition like?

Eric Anthony Lopez:

It was a little crazy. Not only did I look… A lot of things happened when I got… After Idol, I got my first agent and I moved to New York. I got an off-Broadway show kind of at the same time. I was doing a show eight times a week for over a year, in this little off-Broadway show I got cast in, and it was great. But what was so crazy, when I had my first representation, they were like, “Okay, let’s do something about your last name.” I was like, “Wait, what do you mean?”

Mahesh Kotagi:

Really?

Eric Anthony Lopez:

And they were like, “What are you… Well, you look white?” And I was like, “All right, sure.” And they’re like, “No, but we need to do something about that last name.” Well, I was resistant. I wouldn’t change it, and I ended up not signing with that particular agent. But it hits a nerve that I didn’t even know was really there. I grew up in a Latino household and I grew up during the Latin music explosion, listening to all that type of music. But in many… I would go to auditions or jobs and people like just didn’t buy… They thought it was a stage name. They just, frankly, just thought,” Oh, that’s a stage name. You’re not… Is your name really Lopez? Is it really?” And then when I get hired, I sometimes wonder, “Oh, did they just hire me because my last name is Lopez and they can check a box.”

Eric Anthony Lopez:

It was all that shit very at the beginning of my career, on top of, when I’m trying to get into musicals and stuff, they were like, “Oh, we’re not looking for reality show contestants.” There was all of that in the beginning of my career. I was operatically… I could sing operatically, but a lot of places didn’t even want to hear the audition because, “Oh, we don’t want to take reality show contestants. Oh, and that name doesn’t match the picture. Therefore-

Mahesh Kotagi:

Wow.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

… that’s not going to work.” And they would say that diplomatically. They wouldn’t outright-

Mahesh Kotagi:

Oh, but you can-

Eric Anthony Lopez:

… but they wouldn’t… It’s like, “Oh, are you really…” Literally, I’ve been asked on every… not every job, because Phantom’s been ahead of it for a while. They’re good. But there have been jobs where people just don’t feel it or think it’s just a stage name. Or “is that just your union name.” Or “what is that? Where does that come from?” And that’s kind of… And I would put truthfully, and I’ll be blunt about it, I kind of laughed it off for a long time. I was just like, “Ha, ha, ha. Yeah, ha, ha.” You’re starting out and whatever.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

But then it reached a point where it was like, “Wow, people are denying my very thing. That that’s my blood.” I grew up eating Puerto Rican food. I grew up during the Latin music explosion, listening to Shakira, Celia Cruz, Selena, Jennifer Lopez, all those people. And then you go out to the real world or whatever, and people are like, “Well, what are we going to do about this? How do we fix this?” It takes a toll after a while. And then you think, “Well, maybe I should just drop my last name.” And it’s like, “No, your mother’s from fricking Puerto Rico and your dad’s from Spain. You’re going to own that shit. That’s what it is.”

Eric Anthony Lopez:

In terms of Broadway, I think Broadway has been good in many avenues. What you see on stage. I think what you see behind the … People you’ll never meet the artisans, the flyman, the management positions, the costumers, it’s all the people behind the stage who you never see and you’ll never meet. That’s where I think there needs to be more diversity, because… And even in decision-makers and-

Mahesh Kotagi:

Oh, yes.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

… I find it… Oh, yeah, go.

Mahesh Kotagi:

Oh no, no I was just agreeing with you. No, 100%.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

Oh, no, it’s crazy. Because people will say, “Oh, no, that show’s diverse.” Or “that shows got it right.” I’m like, “Okay, yeah, onstage, but look around. Look at your people backstage, look at the agents they have or the people they represent or whatever the case may be.” That’s where the real change needs to happen for the onstage… It has to happen in all avenues. It can’t just happen onstage, in my opinion. And for me, that’s been a thing I’ve been talking about recently.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

I know with Phantom… It’s interesting now with the Broadway shutdown and the forced closure with COVID and all this, I feel like there’s been a lot of evaluating and this eruption of consciousness that we’re all kind of going through. I feel as though Broadway is taking a hard look at itself-

Mahesh Kotagi:

That’s good.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

… and that goes for touring shows. As far as Phantom is concerned, why I’m proud to work for them, is that I think they’ve been ahead of it before it was popular. That’s the thing. It’s starting to become… I don’t know, any change is good, but I feel as though, sometimes in any industry, people think, “Oh, we got to check these boxes. We got to check it.”

Mahesh Kotagi:

Yes.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

and people get so paranoid. And it’s like, “Ah, no, it’s not about that.”

Mahesh Kotagi:

A 100%.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

For Phantom, for example, seven years ago, we had Norm Lewis, who is an African-American man. He played the title role on Broadway. He is an African-American man, platter on Broadway, the whole thing, but add a Tony nomination to his name, could sing, had a huge ass following, and he was an African-American man. That was a thing that happened, but he wasn’t the first.

Mahesh Kotagi:

That’s very cool, yeah.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

He was the first on Broadway, but we had Robert Guillaume back in the late 80s, early 90s that Phantom had in the Las Vegas production. Oh, no, Los Angeles production, I’m sorry, who is an African-American man who was leading the show. And so Phantom, why I kind of love… They’re the old show, they’ve been running for 30 plus years, the whole thing, but Phantom has been always a diverse environment forever onstage and behind.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

I know for world tour, that is certainly the case-

Mahesh Kotagi:

Nice.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

Even in management… Who do we got? One of our dance supervisors, who I answer to, she’s a Korean woman. Her name is Gigi, and she holds a tight ship, but she did the show in the 90s as a performer, and now has moved into a managerial position, like 10 years ago. Phantom is not new to that, but there are other shows that are popping in all this diversity and you kind of raise your eyebrow and go, “Well, why are we doing this now? Why did it take till 2020 for you guys to do this?”

Mahesh Kotagi:

That’s very..

Eric Anthony Lopez:

It’s an interesting time.

Mahesh Kotagi:

Yeah, for sure. And honestly, I want to piggyback off… That’s so cool about the Phantom that they’ve been ahead of the game, and it seems like the intentions are very good behind that. And I wanted to just highlight one really cool thing about Phantom of the Opera too. I was seeing a New York Times did an article, which I guess everybody knows, if you don’t know Broadway has been shut down because of COVID, obviously, but Phantom is actually one of the… it’s the only musical, I believe, that’s actually survived the pandemic and it’s been thriving. There’s a tour going on and you were in Seoul, right? Is that correct?

Eric Anthony Lopez:

Yeah, with the world tour company.

Mahesh Kotagi:

That’s amazing. Could you talk about that real quick? Tell us about that. That’s a huge… Honestly, that’s just amazing.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

It’s super crazy to be in the only show in the world, the only musical. It still doesn’t even feel real. In March, when Broadway was shutting down and all the rest of it, we all open, “Oh, Broadway will be shut down for a second and then we’ll get a vaccine.” We didn’t even get it. I’m still kind of in the bubble. New York Times comes up in June and does this whole piece. And we’re like, “Oh, this is bigger than we thought.” Because Phantom’s been around forever, but we’re like, “Wait, we’re now the only musical running. That’s crazy.” And we know how… Bluntly, my job is saved, so many of my colleagues’ jobs are saved. We’re so fricking lucky and we know it and you feel it. And The New York Times showed up and took pictures of us washing our hands and wearing our mask backstage.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

That’s another thing. We’re doing the show… Every time we’re backstage, mask immediately on. We only take it off right before we step foot one onstage. For temperature checks, we have like three checkpoints before we even enter the theater or the backstage area, and our audience temperature checked, Korean track and trace, which I think is going to start to come into the-

Mahesh Kotagi:

Oh, what is that?

Eric Anthony Lopez:

Track and trace is a thing that, I think, Koreans came up with it, the Korean government rather to track if you’ve been near someone with the virus or track where you’ve been. So when you go to a theater, in Seoul, when we were performing, an audience member would come up, they would scan their ticket, and then there would be a form, a paper form or in the form of an app. And they would fill out where they’ve been in the last 48 hours, and where they’re going after. If they work around someone with the virus or exposed to, they wouldn’t be allowed in. It was all very track-

Mahesh Kotagi:

Oh, that’s interesting.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

… and plan. We look out into the audience of 3000 folks and we see everyone’s wearing a mask and-

Mahesh Kotagi:

Oh, yeah.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

… they’re clapping and they’re loud and that’s great, but it’s like, “Wow, they’re all in masks.” It was actually a little creepy at first.

Mahesh Kotagi:

Well, yeah.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

And we’re like, “What is this?” And then you get kind of used to it after a while. And everyone backstage was wearing masks, and we made it out of our little six month engagement unscathed, which is-

Mahesh Kotagi:

That’s amazing.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

… ridiculous. It’s ridiculous that even it worked like that, and the New York Times did a whole piece on it and it was crazy.

Mahesh Kotagi:

Yeah, it’s very cool. And I think that’s… Honestly, what you guys were able to accomplish in the last six months and accomplish it safely above everything during all this, that’s a good sign and that’s hope for every other production that’s out there and every other form of entertainment. Because I’m sure you’ve had many amazing shows and seen a lot of happy crowds, but these must’ve been probably some of the most grateful crowds you’ve probably come across in your career. Right? 

Eric Anthony Lopez:

Oh, for sure, for sure. We saw people crying. I know when our head… Andrew Lloyd Webber, who wrote the musical, his right-hand woman came out, whose main focus is the Broadway production, but she puts up all the other… the West End and world tour company. She comes to us like five months in from the shutdown, so she hasn’t seen the musical or the show. She hasn’t conducted, she hasn’t worked in… She comes to the show and she says, “I have no words.” She was genuine emotion, because that’s a thing… I don’t know about the film world or whatever or that industry, but people are jaded and people seen a lot of things.

Mahesh Kotagi:

1000%.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

The fake, “I’m so touched.” And it’s like, “Okay, yeah, whatever.” And you go along with it. We were genuinely like looking at these crowds, Korean people, but also people from around the world, seeing them just visibly crying, but also cheering and “Yah,” when the chandelier… And Phantom’s, Phantom of the Opera, it’s not really a rock show, but people were screaming like crazy people, when… Night after night, they were just so grateful to see it and just to be on the other side of that is so… And it sounds so cheesy, but it was so cool and touching and it was crazy, emotional for all of us.

Mahesh Kotagi:

Oh, no, I’m sure, man. I think everything that this year has brought and everything everyone’s going through, I think at this point in time, the arts and music and entertainment is more needed than ever, and it’s such a beautiful thing, and it brings out those powerful emotions in people. And really, it’s almost an escape for the problems going on. You really forget about it, for a little while. And I think it brings people together. It really does bring-

Eric Anthony Lopez:

Sure.

Mahesh Kotagi:

… every background together. And that’s awesome, man. And what are you guys looking forward to next? From what I’m hearing things, potentially, mid of next year will be opening up, but I guess is this setting the stage for other productions? That they’ve seen that it can be done safely and that we could move forward like this.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

We hope so. I think what’s been great is that the composer of our show, Andrew Lloyd Webber, who’s an EGOT, he has a gazillion dollars, he doesn’t even have to… He can just sit and kind of… No, he’s getting vaccine trials and he’s going to the government in the UK and trying to get things started. I know he’s very involved with the Save Our Stage Act, which is happening in New York about Broadway, really. Because Broadway, I don’t think people even realize, just in New York City alone, just take that place alone, that’s employing 97,000 people, who are now unemployed because of this pandemic that we’re going through, but then you have the surrounding hotels, the surrounding restaurants, the transportation all this stuff is affected. I was actually just reading a Washington Post article that was like, “New York city won’t come back unless Broadway’s back, so how do we…”

Eric Anthony Lopez:

I didn’t even really understand. I had to read the article a number of times to get it. I’m like, “Oh, right, because of all this.” A gazillion people see any kind of Broadway show a year, and it brings in so many people. Once that gets on track, I think it will be good. Whether it’s social distance crowds or we might just have to wait until there’s a vaccine, which… Not might, but we’re going to have to. And as far as the touring shows concerned, we’re gearing up to go now to Taipei Arena, to do an arena show of Phantom. 

Mahesh Kotagi:

That’s amazing.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

Which is going to be another… But we’re going to go and not just get on the stage and do it. We’re going to quarantine for two weeks. Everyone’s going to be tested. I’ve had, Oh, my God, over 10 COVID tests within-

Mahesh Kotagi:

Wow.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

… the past six months. Everyone’s been tested. We’re going to go there, quarantine, do the show, quarantine some more on the way out, and it’s going to be crazy.

Mahesh Kotagi:

That’s so-

Eric Anthony Lopez:

But it’s needed, it’s what has to be done. We’re very lucky, but it’s a strange… Anything can happen. The world can change tomorrow. So we’re just-

Mahesh Kotagi:

Exactly, yeah. And I think one thing you said is Broadway is such an integral part of New York City. You think Manhattan, you think Times Square, you think Broadway, right? I didn’t realize that until you said that too, is, yeah, it’s not just the people that are working there, but the surrounding businesses, like Times Square people, you want to stay in a hotel near Broadway, you want to walk around, you want to go to the bars after and see… “Oh, maybe I’ll see somebody there.” And I went to Times Square a couple of weeks ago just to walk through, and it was eerie. It was so weird, man. And I’m like, I can’t wait.

Mahesh Kotagi:

I think one of the last shows I went to was I went to a magic show, like off-Broadway, nearby. This mentalist guy from the UK, it was phenomenal. And honestly, it’s just that energy of being around all of that. It’s just like an electricity in the air, I feel like. And people are excited, just everything, it’s just such a different vibe over there. And I really can’t wait for that to come back. And when it does, I’m going to be going to as many shows as I can.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

Yeah, me too, man. I just can’t wait. I was in Times Square literally this morning and I was like, “This is so depressing.” It’s weird. It’s just weird to see. From my time, 12:00, noon, just to see like nothing happening. A couple taxis, a couple of people, I was like, “Oh, this is real. This is happening.”

Mahesh Kotagi:

Man, this has been really cool. Where can people find you? What can they do to follow you? Your Instagram? Do you want to plug all of that?

Eric Anthony Lopez:

Yeah. My Instagram is @eric.anthony.lopez, and my website is http://www.ericanthonylopez.com. Eric with a C. Yeah, you can follow the world tour, follow the whole thing and yeah.

Mahesh Kotagi:

I had a question, are you guys videotaping the process and stuff? Because I think that’d be kind of fun to see from somebody that’s not involved, is just everything you guys… That seems like it’s a feature film right there, just the whole process.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

Well, that’s-

Mahesh Kotagi:

… ready.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

Well, it’s funny you’re saying that.

Mahesh Kotagi:

Oh.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

I can’t say much about it, but-

Mahesh Kotagi:

Okay. We can leave it at that.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

… there is… I’ll give this out because I can say it. There’s a documentary coming out of some sort about this time.

Mahesh Kotagi:

Oh wow, okay.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

And it’s going to be… It will be crazy to watch in like 10 years, honestly, but it’s… Yeah, so watch out for that, because it is indeed coming.

Mahesh Kotagi:

Okay, that’s awesome. I’m excited. I’m looking forward to that and I’m sure you have some amazing stories. We’ve got… We’ll be starting to wrap up, but we always ask three questions to all of our guests to get to know you a little bit more. These are fun questions, and I’ll throw in a funny little story before I ask those. Personally, I just do stand up and acting. I can’t sing. I’m horrible with all of that stuff, but a few years ago there was somebody that reached out in New York. There was an old Bollywood movie that somebody was trying to turn into a musical for Manhattan, like an off Broadway musical. And honestly, I have no clue how, but they reached out to me and they asked me to come in for one of the parts.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

Oh, my God. That’s awesome though.

Mahesh Kotagi:

It was cool. And I didn’t know it was… I thought like, “Oh, they must not have email.” I was like, “You know, I just do stand-up and acting, right? I can’t sing.” And they’re like, “Yeah, yeah, that’s fine.” And so the night before, they send me these sides and it was sheet music. I was like, “First of all, I can’t even read this. I don’t know what’s going on.” I literally went in and I told them, I was like, “Hey, guys, I’m happy to be here. I don’t want to waste your time, but I can’t sing.” They’re like, “No, no, no, why don’t you just try? We just want to see, because…” I think one of the things is, I guess, there’s not a lot of South Asians or Indians that are in the industry, or maybe-

Mahesh Kotagi:

… years ago they hadn’t… It was honestly, one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. I’m standing there, there’s a piano next to me, there’s a guy playing, and there’s like six people watching. And like I got through maybe the first measure, and then I was like, “You know what? I think, I think I should leave.” So hats off to you, man, for all of that stuff. It’s such a different skill and not just being able to sing, but being able to perform and doing all of that and actually moving around the stage and telling a story. It’s phenomenal. It’s just really cool.

Mahesh Kotagi:

But one of the questions, I’ll have to modify this. Daniel always asks, and feel free to answer it. His question is always, what is your favorite TV show or movie that you’re watching? And if you want you can…

Eric Anthony Lopez:

I have one.

Mahesh Kotagi:

Oh, you do.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

I have one right now.

Mahesh Kotagi:

All right, let’s hear it.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

Love, Victor on Hulu, starring the Puerto Rican, my favorite person ever, Michael Cimino. He’s super young. I’m obsessed with him.

Mahesh Kotagi

Oh, awesome. Cool. I haven’t seen that. I got to check that out. I’ve been hearing a lot of really good reviews about that. That’s a relatively new show, right? It came out this-

Eric Anthony Lopez:

Yeah, it literally just came out and I had to illegally get it when I was in Korea.

Mahesh Kotagi:

Oh yeah. Okay. Well, let me ask you, other than the Phantom, what’s your favorite musical?

Eric Anthony Lopez:

Favorite musical?

Mahesh Kotagi:

I don’t want to put you on the spot, but I kind of do.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

Shoot. What is my… Because Phantom was my dream show. Okay. I’ll be not boring. I’ll answer. Let’s see. I like Les Mis, but that’s so kind of the same kind of a thing. New musicals that are out, Dear Evan Hansen, which I hear there’s a movie coming out, so I can’t wait to see that. Les Mis, I would say. Yeah, Les Mis and Dear Evan Hansen.

Mahesh Kotagi:

Oh, cool. And I was trying to… That was on my list to go see Dear Evan Hansen, and it’s been sold out, so hopefully we can check that out when it’s back. I would love to, definitely, when you guys are back in New York and when things are going up, I’ll be at one of the first shows. I’ll let you know that we’re going to come check it out. I’ll bring some friends and it’ll be fun to watch you. My question is I have a really bad sweet tooth, so I ask all the guests, what’s your favorite dessert? And cereal counts as dessert, I’ll say that right away.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

Favorite dessert. Can I plug the restaurant or is that not allowed?

Mahesh Kotagi:

Absolutely. Yeah, why not?

Eric Anthony Lopez:

Okay. This is so the most Long Island answer ever. Red lobster has what they call the Chocolate Wave. It’s a shit ton of layers of chocolate cake with little Hershey’s kisses on it. Every time I’m on Long Island, I get it. It’s the most fattening thing ever, but I’m obsessed with it and it’s amazing.

Mahesh Kotagi:

Okay. Awesome. That’s actually sounds great. I could go for that right now. It’s too early in the day, but that’s sounds pretty good to me. And then what is some advice… And we’ve kind of gone through it and just kind of hearing your story it’s really inspirational, but if you had to give a piece of advice to somebody that’s younger, that’s thinking about getting into entertainment or is in entertainment or is trying to be on Broadway, some kind of advice to stick with it? Because, as you know, and as we all know, this is not an easy line of work to be doing.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

No, no, no. I think any advice? I say, because of my story, I kind of got started young. Everyone has their own timeline. I started young and I got a couple of breaks and that was great, but everyone has their own timeline. And I just think, laser focused in, be really specific on what you want to do. And that’s what I always say, because I look around and there are people who look at me and they’re like, “You’re doing what I want, but I…” Everyone’s on their own timeline. And also I can be doing Phantom right now, in like six months, I could not be unemployed. You never… It’s a rollercoaster of a career. Just save your money and you’re on your own timeline, and be yourself sounds really cheesy, but it’s true. Especially, when it comes to your ethnic… but don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t. Especially now, now’s the time people want to see diverse stories. Embrace your roots and just be yourself, because there’s only one version of you.

Mahesh Kotagi:

That’s phenomenal, man. I think that’s really great advice to live by and for people to be hearing right now. Well, let me ask you one bonus question and we can do this offline too, but what’s the bar… There’s always those bars post- Broadway shows, where it’s like, “Oh, this is the place where people from the cast and crew they go to.” Is there a place like that? Or should you not say it because otherwise you’re going to get overrun with people?

Eric Anthony Lopez:

No, it literally changes. Now with everything closing, I wonder what the bar will be. A lot of… What is that bar that we went… This bar… Oh, my God. Now I’m thinking about it. 44, so Phantoms on 44th, but a lot of shows are on 44th. Oh my gosh. I’m blanking on the name of it, but it’s-

Mahesh Kotagi:

Was there a place on Eighth Avenue. I feel like-

Eric Anthony Lopez:

Oh, gosh, wait, I got it. Oh God, Glass House Tavern. I just banged my wall. Little Glass House Tavern. You can go, people, please go. Across the street from Waitress or well, what was Waitress? I don’t even know, on 47th street. Yeah, Glass House Tavern. You will see Tony nominees in there, you’ll see ensemble folks in there. You’ll see a lot of folks in there and it’s not crazy. It’s actually quite cool. A lot of people… Yeah, so there.

Mahesh Kotagi:

Okay.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

If you ever want to see somebody after a show, literally, go to Glass House Tavern.

Mahesh Kotagi:

Glass House Tavern, okay. We’ll have to add it to the list. But, dude, thank you so much, man. I appreciate your time. Thanks for sharing your story. I think this is going to be really… This is going to be great for everyone to hear. And wish you guys the best of luck with the show. And, again, I’m excited. I’m excited to see what you guys have cooking and excited to actually be able to go back in person, live and have that Broadway experience again.

Eric Anthony Lopez:

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Thanks so much.

Leave a Reply

No More Tokens! stands in full support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Interested in helping out?

STAY IN THE LOOP!

Subscribe to the No More Tokens Podcast Email List

We’ll send you updates and notifications on new episodes, plus some fun stuff we’ve found on the interweb.

    © No More tokens Podcast | Website by CJ & SecondLineThemes

    SUBSCRIBE