Meet the Lions, Scarecrows, & Tin Men in Top Billing Entertainment’s production of “The Wizard of OZ”
Jesse Alvarado (Gold Cast Lion) began his drama career as a stage crew member in high school working on shows such as “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat”, “The Odd Couple,” and “Little Shop of Horrors.” He had always loved to sing but never had the courage to do it in front of others. He finally decided to audition for choir and after being selected to perform with the choir, continued auditioning in high school. He traveled with the Bishop Amat Chamber Singers his junior and senior year along with playing Hannibal in “The Curious Savage”, Danny Zuko in “Grease”, and Paul in “You Can’t Take it with You“. Jesse was also selected to perform with the ACDA Western Division Honor Choir in Santa Barbara. He is currently a theatre major at Mt. SAC and one day hopes to be on Broadway. This is his first production with TBE and he has had a blast. He would like to thank his wonderful parents and beautiful sister for always supporting him in everything he does along with his amazing family and friends. He would also like to thank Mrs. K for the opportunity and the wonderful cast and crew for making this musical one to remember.
De’shawn Johnson (Emerald Cast Lion) is 17 years old and has been performing since he was 5 years old. His favorite shows to perform in are Wizard of Oz as the Lion, Disney’s Little Mermaid as King Triton and playing Shrek in Shrek the Musical. He loves acting and one day he hopes to be on Broadway or in movies. Christian Sandoval (Ruby Cast Lion) recently graduated High School and is looking forward to getting into the film business. He has done a lot of shows with Top Billing Entertainment including being cast as Gaston in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr. where he was nominated for best supporting actor by the NYA. Other shows he has been in include The Music Man, The Wiz, Willie Wonka, and Godspell. He was Jesus literally, and Shrek. He would like to thank his Mom and Dad for the rides to rehearsal, pretty soon he can drive himself, look out other drivers HAHA!! Thanks to his grandmas Ana and Imelda. (He got his dance moves from grandma Imelda.) Also thanks to his brother Seth for getting him started in theater and thank you to all his friends and family. Last and definitely not least his big brother Andrew. You are his rock. He doesn’t know where would he be without your guidance and wisdom, but he does know if e ever need anything he can count on you.
Seth Johnson (Gold Cast Scarecrow) is one devilishly handsome son of a gun that is going to be a junior at Claremont High School. His hobbies include video games, music and, reading. When he is not at rehearsals he is at practice for the CHS drumline. Seth has been in a theatre production every year of his life except for kindergarten, which is a grand total of about 16 theatrical productions. He is very excited to be a part of the lead cast this year with so many amazing performers. He would like to thank his Top Billing Entertainment family for everything that they have put into him and the cast! Joshua Mendoza (Emerald Cast Scarecrow) is an incoming senior at Bishop Amat High School. He is very devoted to the Chamber Singers, his school’s choir. Outside of Top Billing Entertainment, Joshua has been trained with 2 professional years of on-camera acting at Gary Spatz’s The Playground and 1 year of classical vocal performance at his school. Some of his past stage credits include “Ensemble/Soloist” in High School Musical & The Music Man, and lead characters such as “Jacob/Dan/Butler” in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, “Cogsworth” in Beauty and the Beast, “Tony” in You Can’t Take It With You, & “Narrator 3” in Aladdin Jr., as well as portraying “Santa,” “Elvis,” & “Aladdin” in separate TBE fundraising shows. This show, The Wizard of Oz, will be Joshua’s 12th production with Top Billing Entertainment and his 16th production overall. Josh was grateful when he found out he was to portray the role of “Scarecrow/Hunk” for the Emerald Cast (he is happy to be able to bounce off ideas with Matt Q. and Seth J.), and he is very thankful towards his family, friends, cast mates, and Mrs. K & her team for all of their help and support.
Matthew Quintana (Ruby Cast Scarecrow) starts his first year ever singing and acting in a Top Billing Entertainment production and has only been in one other musical which was Shrek the Musical where he performed as Donkey. Matthew will be playing the scarecrow in this year’s Wizard of Oz production believes it has been quite the adventure. He has learned some valuable skills for the future and would like to thank Ms. Keener and all of the other instructors and helpers at Top Billing Entertainment for this opportunity. This is his first year and he is so glad that he was able to realize how amazing musical theater is. He also wants to thank the rest of the cast for making this a great experience, as well as my fellow scarecrows for making the musical an easy and fun production. Matthew hopes to continue this career in the future.
The Tin Men
Everett Cabon (Ruby Cast Tin Man) is a recent graduate from West Covina High School and is excited to play the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz. He thinks there is nothing more beautiful a human can do than to sing and perform to the heart’s content. He has played other notable roles such as Farquaad in Shrek the Musical, Snoopy in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, and recently has won an NYA award for his favorite role as Lumiere in Top Billing Entertainment’s Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr. Everett would like to thank his parents for their unconditional love and support, his fellow leads for always willing to help, Miss K for doing literally everything ever, as well as the entire cast for being awesome! See Everett as Lumiere in “Be Our Guest” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfrwM5E358Y Zorro Sengupta (Gold Cast Tin Man) is 16 years old and loves to sing, act, play music, and many other activities. He is currently playing the role of the Tinman, in Top Billing Entertainment’s The Wizard of Oz. His favorite role in Top Billing Entertainment was when he played Olin Britt, the Bass of the Barbershop Quartet, in The Music Man. He has been a singer for The San Gabriel Valley Pueri Cantores Choir for over ten years, and has been performing in Top Billing Entertainment’s shows for over five. Zorro would like to thank Kristina Keener Ivy for giving him the amazing opportunity of working with her.
Esteban Villegas (Emerald Cast Tin Man) had his first experience on stage was in a kindergarten Thanksgiving play in which he received the lead role of the “The Red Hen”. Besides displaying musical aptitude, singing in elementary choir, learning guitar basics, and learning the saxophone, Esteban’s musical and theatrical life remained dormant. It was not until he watched the musical, “Fiddler on the Roof”, that his first interest for theater occurred. After seeing both the movie and the Broadway production, he fell in love with the musical. He began to imitate Topal, the actor who played the lead, Tevye in both the movie and Broadway. Esteban could be found dancing around the house like the Jews portrayed in the movie, or imitating the deep baritone voice of his favorite character, Tevye. In Spring 2012, he was cast as a supporting role in the production of “High School Musical Jr.”, which he enjoyed. The following year in Spring 2013, Esteban was fortunate enough to be cast in his dream role as Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof”. In the Spring 2014, his freshman year, Esteban was cast as a lead in the school production of “Grease”. He noticed that his specialty on stage was being the comedic relief. It was no surprise, since off-stage Esteban constantly tries to create laughter around him in conversation, his magic shows, or terrible puns. Esteban truly had the time of his life playing Lumiere in last summer’s Top Billing production of “Beauty and The Beast” and making the role his own. Top Billing welcomed him as part of the family in an instant. Since then, in Spring 2015, he also played in another high school production of “Aladdin Jr.”, in which he was the Genie. Esteban says, “The Genie role was one of my favorite experiences, because it was like being myself on stage and paying tribute to the great Robin Williams”. Being Lumiere and the Genie confirmed his love for the stage by entertaining people through his musical talent and making the audience laugh. He was recently nominated for the National Youth Arts Award for Best Supporting Role for his performance as Lumiere. He is grateful for this nomination. He is also grateful to Ms. Kristina Keener Ivy who has given him the opportunity and pushed him to become a better performer. Without her, he wouldn’t have had such great memories on and off stage. Aside from theater, Esteban is currently in his second year in the Chamber Singers, his high school’s premiere vocal ensemble, and has traveled to San Francisco to perform with elite choral groups from across the country, such as the Grammy award-winning, Chanticleer. He will also be performing with the Chamber Singers in Rome, singing for Pope Francis in the Mass of the Epiphany on January 6, 2016. He cannot wait. His time as the Tin Man has been a great experience and he wants to continue to act and entertain for years to come. He would like to thank Ms. Keener Ivy, his family who comes to support the show, all who applaud during the show, and all who laugh at his jokes on stage.
See Esteban “Human Again” as Lumiere