Video: The Stage Star — Eugenio Vargas, a music theater star, reflects on his art and his experiences as part of the Waa-Mu Show. See more videos from Northwestern magazine.
Eugenio Vargas has been a stage-struck since age 3, as home videos of him dancing and singing on the coffee table verify.
A theater major and musical theater performer at Northwestern, he is living out his first love.
Vargas, who speaks Spanish and Italian and plays the piano and the violin, also has a minor in conducting and music theory. He music-directed The Rocky Horror Show and conducted a 27-person orchestra for the 2008 Dolphin Show, Carousel. He also music-directed Tonight at Eight: A Salute to Sheldon Harnick in July 2008, a show directed by Dominic Missimi in honor of Harnick (BSM49), lyricist for Fiddler on the Roof (see "Words Into Song," summer 2004). Last October Vargas directed Evil Dead: The Musical, and in May he served as co-chair of the Waa-Mu Show, One for the Books.
Vargas has played many funny roles in Northwestern shows. For the 2009 Sit & Spin production Food for Fish, his first nonmusical performance on campus, Vargas played the paranoid and agoraphobic Barbara, whose husband was played by a woman.
"It was exceptionally challenging because I had to figure out how, as a man, I could play this incredibly feminine woman character without turning her into a caricature or a trashy drag queen," he says. "It was one of the only times when people have come up to me and commented on the script and the play, the material itself, in addition to the performance."
Vargas, who grew up in Oak Ridge, Tenn., knew that he wanted to pursue a career in theater after spending four weeks at the Tennessee Governor's School for the Arts during high school. He worked on a production of Metamorphoses, written by Mary Zimmerman (C82, GC85, 94), a Northwestern performance studies professor (see "Genius @ Play," spring 1999).
"That was when I realized that theater couldn't just be a hobby for me, it was my passion, and it was what I loved to do, and it was where I needed to focus," Vargas says.
In March, Vargas traveled to New York City for the theater department's Senior Showcase, performing for agents, casting directors and producers. He eventually signed on with the Mine, a New York talent agency.
For the summer Vargas will be performing in the professional cast of Altar Boyz and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Tent Theatre in Springfield, Mo., after which he will obtain membership in the Actors Equity Association.
"I just love and am so passionate about theater that, in whatever way I can, I'd like to spend as much of my life as possible performing for people," he says. "If I can do a show that makes people change the way they think about the world and makes them go out and do something, that's amazing."