Wesley Chapel’s Angelica Vicens isn’t on TV or in the movies. Yet.
However, her story is a familiar one.
You’ve seen her before, or those like her — you know, the young aspiring actor/writer/producer, who chases her dreams all the way to New York, NY, who works a day job to pay the rent, spends the rest of her time in one of the Big Apple’s many theaters hustling to put something together. And yes, she shares one of those tiny, one-bedroom, overpriced flats where the living room and kitchen are interchangeable and where she dreams of making it big.
That’s Angelica, a 20-year-old who just made her director/producer debut earlier this month, just a mere three years after graduating from Wiregrass Ranch High (WRH).
With her parents, Angel and Zulma, in the audience, Angelica recently completed a four-show run of “Twisted: The Untold Story of a Royal Vizier,” a popular musical by Team Starkid productions, a Chicago-based theatre troupe known for its musical comedies.
“Twisted” parodies the Disney movie “Aladdin,” but told from the antagonist Jafar’s point of view.
Angelica produced four shows March 31-April 2, at The Producer’s Club, a black box “Off-Off Broadway” theater on W. 44th St. in Manhattan. Black box theaters are typically simple and square with black walls, resembling a black box, with seating for roughly 50-100 for a production that relies on the actors to create the setting and atmosphere, rather than props and elaborate stage decorations.
While she also has auditioned multiple times for parts in plays, Angelica wanted to try her hand at being on the other side. It didn’t matter than she was only 20 and at the very beginning of her career — she says she was ready for the challenge. A longtime fan of Team Starkid’s productions, she decided she wanted to do a version of “Twisted.”
“I’ve wanted to do this all my life,’’ she says. “Might as well go for it.’’
She reached out to Team Starkid for the rights to do “Twisted.” Her father Angel, who said the family has always supported Angelica’s dream, paid the $400 for the rights, and after signing the contract, pre-production began last December for a bare-bones production of a musical that has had nearly 1.8-million views on YouTube.
In January, although it was an unpaid gig, Angelica said more than 150 actors applied for a role in her show, and 16 made the cut, 17 if you count the replacement she had to find when the lead bowed out midway through rehearsals.
“That was a setback,’’ she said, “and a learning experience.”
She adds, however, that all of the challenges were well worth the experience.
“For me, it’s the beginning of my own personal career,’’ she said. “As an actor, you’re auditioning for other people’s projects. This is the first step seeing if I can do (my own project), and so far it has been a really great experience,’’ Angelica says. “I’m realizing that I do have potential to direct and put on comedies.”
Angel said Angelica was always ready to perform, even as a child. She would have friends over to watch a movie in fourth grade, and they would then perform it afterwards. In the fifth grade at Sand Pine Elementary, she and her friends put together an after-school show for their classmates.
“It was obviously her passion,’’ says Angel, who plays bass guitar (with Zulma, who plays guitar) on Sundays at St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church in New Tampa during 12:30 Spanish mass. “We are not surprised at all that she is doing this.”
Angelica’s brother Luis, a WRH junior, also is a talented singer and musician, and plays the drums, piano and bass guitar.
Considering Angel and Zulma played in popular bands in their native Puerto Rico, it’s only natural the Vicens kids would take early to performing.
Angelica was in the show choir from first grade through sixth grade with New Tampa’s Show Kidz, performed in the drama club and played the violin in Orchestra at John Long Middle School and also performed in the Drama Club at WRH.
She played the Marimba in the school band, and her junior year played Grizabella in the Jansen Dance Project (located in Tampa Palms) production of “Cats.”
While many her age went off to sort out their futures on college campuses, Angelica followed her passion to New York City, where just two weeks after graduating from WRH, she enrolled at the American Musical Dramatic Academy (AMDA), a college conservatory for the performing arts located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. She completed that program in 2015.
“I don’t mean to brag,’’ Angelica says, chuckling, “but I’m doing what I always said I was going to be doing.”
It was at AMDA that she discovered Carol Burnett, Ethel Merman and “The Dick Van Dyke Show,”and fell in love with old variety comedy.
“I wanted to find something parallel to that in modern times,’’ she said.
She says she has binge-watched all 42 seasons of “Saturday Night Live,” as well as “Cheers,” “Frazier” and “Seinfield.”
Whether as a writer, producer, singer or actor, Angelica knows she is where she wants to be. Her dream job would be working for a variety show, like “Saturday Night Live,”or becoming a writer for a late night talk show.
“A lot of friends of mine who always said they were going to be actors, they don’t really understand the reality of the situation,’’ Angelica says. “A lot of people trying to be in the industry believe acting is reaching a certain amount of fame and success. They think if you’re recognized on a world level, you are an actor. But, it’s about the craft, no matter the level.”
While honing her own craft, Angelica takes online business classes through Florida International University, and works 40 hours a week in the NBC Universal (NBCU) gift shop in Rockefeller Plaza’s Comcast Building.
“I’d love to be an NBC page, and be a part of that program,’’ Angelica said.
Until then, she’ll continue to sing, act, write and produce, and take as big a bite out of the Big Apple as she can.
“She does it all,’’ Angel says, proudly.