Hometown: Seattle, WA
Current Role: A Broadway debut as Jafar’s wisecracking right-hand man Iago in the hit musical adaptation of Disney’s Aladdin.
Stage Cred: Before originating the role of Iago at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, Rivera appeared in a variety of productions at the Seattle Children’s Theatre, The Children’s Theatre Company and the Shakespeare Theatre Company.
“My secret dream was to be a professional stage magician. I had two white doves growing up, and people were always shocked to see this tiny little Filipino kid pull a dove out of a tissue box.”
“Children are the most honest audience you will ever have, because they will let you know if they like you and they will let you know if they don’t like you. Kids are always surprised that I’m not really a mean guy in person.”
“I’m Filipino-American—my parents moved from the Philippines to Seattle in 1974. Lea Salonga is a huge star there, so seeing her in mainstream American entertainment, in Aladdin, was a huge deal for me. It was so nerve-wracking to get to meet her...and we’re about the same height, so that’s cool, too!”
“My wife Kate and I met at the Seattle Children’s Theatre, doing If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. She was a stagehand and I developed a huge crush on her, but I wanted to stay professional, so I didn’t tell her. Finally I said, screw it, let’s go on a date. We ended up getting married on that same stage.”
“Moving to New York was difficult, because I’ve never really lived anywhere but Seattle. I showed up with a piece of luggage at an apartment I’d never seen before except in pictures. At first I was like, ‘Oh my God, I made a terrible mistake,’ but I learned about takeout and dollar slices and life was good.”
“Sometimes I look around and think, wow, I’m so lucky to be here. People work so hard for their entire lives to be on Broadway. This is the big time, this is the pinnacle. I’m really living the dream.”
“I proposed to my wife at Disneyland. We’re both huge Disney fans, and it was one of our first dates. I wanted to propose during the fireworks show, but it was a torrential downpour and they canceled it. So I proposed in front of the castle in the pouring rain. It was a perfect Seattle engagement!”