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THEATER BUFF: J. Manuel Santos of “A Chorus Line”

October 17th, 2012

Every third Wednesday of the month, a fabulous actor/singer/dancer will fill out my nosey little questionnaire and offer a glimpse of what they look like from a bit closer than the mezzanine. For October, we’ve got one singular sensation…

J. Manuel Santos. Photo by Kaitlin Mesh.

Name: J. Manuel Santos

Hometown: Lake Jackson, Texas

Current Show/Role: Paul in A Chorus Line at Paper Mill Playhouse

The best part of the show I’m in now is: The amazingly talented and supportive cast! Also, the director, Mitzi Hamilton has been such a great inspiration for me and has truly allowed us all to have so much freedom in the creation of these iconic characters.

The most challenging job in show business I ever had was: Performing in the revival of West Side Story for the entire length of the run. Dancing the incredibly technical and difficult choreography that Jerome Robbins created for this classic musical and bringing up so much anger and violence that the piece demanded was exhilarating, though considering the show ran for over two years, it also proved to be unbelievably exhausting!

If I wasn’t an actor, I would be: A linguist. I love words, I love language, and I love different parts of the world. Hearing and seeing different cultures pass by on the sidewalks in a cacophonous symphony makes New York feel globally connected; it’s one of the attributes of NYC that I most enjoy.

The character in A Chorus Line I am actually most like is: The character that I play, Paul. There is a genuineness and vulnerability to him that I love.

The best post-show cocktail in New York City is at: My apartment! I love hosting small gatherings and relaxing amongst friends with some wine or beer.

J. Manuel Santos. Photo by Amy Ryerson.

After you’ve hit all the traditional sites of New York City, you should totally go to: Fire Island Pines. Even though I’m sure most who read this blog have been there (or at least heard of it), the island is one of the most beautiful escapes that I favor making. The greenery is abundant, as are the gays, and the ocean’s serenity relieves all the stresses of everyday NYC life.

If I could live anywhere else in the world it would be: Somewhere in Europe. I love the collaboration of small countries and languages that are so tightly interconnected within one continent. I’ve chosen to be a bit vague because I don’t know that I would want to live in one specific country over another. I’d like to try them all out!

New Jersey isn’t just about Paper Mill; I’ve also discovered: The fact that I’m surrounded by nature. I am always pleasantly surprised to hear birds and crickets outside the theatre. The small creek lined by trees and rocks also creates a peaceful atmosphere where I like to enjoy a quick bite to eat.

My workout “secret” is: My killer ab routine, which includes suspended alternating extreme leg lifts!

When I’m looking for a date, nothing attracts me more than: a confident, genuine, masculine man.

J. Manuel Santos. Photo by Kaitlin Mesh.

My favorite website to visit that you may not have heard of is:, where you can find all your 70’s home decor and clothing needs.

Board Shorts, Speedo or Skinny Dip? Skinny dip! Being naked in the ocean is very freeing and feels most natural.

People would be surprised to learn that I: Was born in Germany to a German mother. In retrospect, growing up with a European influence in a small Houston suburb certainly gave me an interesting and diverse cultural mix.

When I was 10, I wanted to be just like: Aladdin! This was by far my favorite Disney movie musical, and even to this day, I crave being able to play Aladdin.

Ten years from now, I’d like to be: Happier and healthier than I’ve ever been. I don’t know exactly what that will entail, but I know it’s something that I will work hard to get towards.

My best Halloween costume ever was: My latino version of The Joker, which I debuted last year!

[Big special thanks to Andrew Glaszek for his continued help rounding up our Theater Buffs.]

J. Manuel Santos (far left) & cast of "Aladdin". Photo by Andrew Keenan-Bolger.

J. Manuel Santos (center) & cast of "Aladdin". Photo by Andrew Keenan-Bolger.

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