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Shaking it with Daphne
Daphne Rubin Vega at Joe’s Pub
Monday, January 9, 2006

Written by Wendy R. Williams
Photographed by Mary Blanco

  Daphne Rubin Vega

The first time I saw Daphne Rubin Vega, was when she played Mimi in the original Broadway cast of Rent. She had an indelible presence, poignantly singing Would You Light My Candle and then striding across the stage in her blue spandex and high heeled boots. And I am not the only one who liked Daphne, she has a huge crowd of fans, many of whom came to see her Joe’s Pub show.

Here is a quote from the press release for the show: “Daphne Rubin-Vega first lit up Broadway with her debut as Mimi in the original cast of Rent, for which she won the Theater World Award, and the Tony and Drama Desk nominations as best actress in a musical, and continued on in such diverse productions as The Rocky Horror Show, Fucking A (at The Public Theater), Anna in the Tropics (another Tony nom), and most recently, motherhood. A self-described "club kid", her career got an early start when she began singing with a girl group called, Pajama Party, and then went on to record her own underground club music on Maxi records. Now a new mama, Daphne and her band deliver an exciting, eclectic mix of music as diverse as the diva herself.”

The night we were there, Daphne sang songs from her new (soon to be released) album, titled Redemption Songs (see song list at the end of this article). And she was backed up by a hot band: David Matos on guitar; Buster Hemphill on bass; Tony Cruz on drums; Frank Perri on keyboard; and Joe Passaro on percussion. Daphne was a one hot mama (a miniature version), gyrating and karate kicking her way through her songs. That girl has got the moves. Filled with energy and blessed with a belting voice, she energized the audience and had all of us moving and grooving with her. She definitely left us wanting more. Bravo!

After the show, we met Daphne backstage and I asked if I could email her some questions. She said yes so here’s her dish:

Wendy R. Williams: The first time I saw you, you were starring as Mimi in Rent. You made quite an impression striding the balcony in your blue leather/vinyl (?) outfit. Do you still have that outfit or is it in a museum somewhere. Do you still have any of your other Rent clothes?

Daphne Rubin Vega: Yes. I have the ORIGINALS, baby! All of them. They came out of my closet and now they’re back in. The blue pants were pvc treated spandex that David Dalrymple had recently discovered and of course I snatched them from Patricia Field’s where I worked briefly a couple of years prior to the show. The carpet bag coat was from Church Street and the combat boots are real with the extra platform courtesy of Second Avenue.

Wendy R. Williams: I saw your website and you describe yourself as an original club kid. Did you ever meet Richie Rich and Trevor Rains while you were clubbing. Now that they have become quasi-respectable and are gainfully employed, are you a Heatherette girl?

Daphne Rubin Vega: I do own a Heatherette t-shirt, but I confess, I didn’t know those guys.

Wendy R. Williams: How about Boy George? He has a new clothing line although there may be some delays while he is busy helping the local authorities with their inquiries.

Daphne Rubin Vega: I met Mr. O’Dowd (Boy George) on the great white way, ironically enough. Our dressing rooms were literally next to each other when he was doing Taboo and I was in “Anna…”

Wendy R. Williams: Any dish you would like to share with our readers about your pre/motherhood club days?

Daphne Rubin Vega: Not really. Sorry. Imagine thinking you’re indestructible and trying to prove it. I’m glad and lucky to be alive when I think about it. Many were much worse than I was. Fortunately, fashion was also a form of expression so I vented a lot by destroying clothes.

Wendy R. Williams: Do you have any dish about Jimmy Smits, your costar in Anna in the Tropics. He is from Suriname and according to your website you were born in Panama so you were practically neighbors.

Daphne Rubin Vega: Jimmy’s dad was born in Suriname but he was born in Puerto Rico like his mom to my knowledge. He is the consummate gentleman and a very caring and generous actor and human being.

Wendy R. Williams: Would you vote for him (Jimmy Smits) for President on the West Wing?

Daphne Rubin Vega: Certainly.

Wendy R. Williams: Do you think he (Jiimmy Smits) should do more butt shots?

Daphne Rubin Vega: Certainly.

Wendy R. Williams: Now that you are a Mom, do you think you will have any luck being the cool Mom or are you going to be turned into Mrs. Cleaver like the rest of us Moms?

Daphne Rubin Vega: I’m not always cool but I’m never Mrs. Cleaver. I feel more like a giant kid playing with my new favorite human toy. Fortunately, my husband is okay with that and we play together.

Wendy R. Williams: And last, would you tell us about your new Broadway show and where and when our readers can see you.

Daphne Rubin Vega: It is at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center and it is called Bernarda Alba. It is a musical written by Michael John LaChiusa and directed by Graciella Danielle and it is an exquisite piece based on the play, The House of Bernarda Alba by Federico Garcia Lorca. It is a tremendously gripping and tragic piece and I’m very excited to be in it and working with some stunningly talented women. All Women!


Many thanks to Daphne for answering the questions. For more information on Daphne, go to:

Song List (from Daphne’s soon to be released new album, titled Redemption Songs)

1. Mental Tenant
2. Bumpy Ride
3. R edemption Song
4. Angel Now
5. En Estos Dias
6. Luca Ariel
7. Artstrings
8. Hold On
9. The Rainbow Connection
10. Citizens of the World

Her encore was Reanimator from her Souvenirs CD.


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