abqARTS (Albuquerque's monthly magazine of the Arts)
September 16, 2004
By Dawn Shepherd
Tony Vincent isn't spending a lot of time looking back. He just doesn't have the time, with a burgeoning international musical career and his opening in the lead role in the United States' premier of We Will Rock You in Las Vegas. But that doesn't mean he doesn't appreciate where he's come from. The Albuquerque native who started banging on drums at age 7 and made his first appearance on the Popejoy stage in Stop the World, I Want to Get Off at age 8, is still in love with his home.
"I have a lot of pride in coming from New Mexico," said Vincent in an early morning interview. "It's a special thing to be from New Mexico because I can tell you that the people I work with in the entertainment industry don't know anyone from New Mexico." Not surprising, since Vincent's professional career has been one that runs the gamut and the globe. After college and his own successful record label startup, Vincent took the performer's risk and relocated to New York City -and it paid off. As soon as he was in New York City, he was out of it, having landed a spot in the national tour of Rent. Off the road and back in NYC for only a short time, he landed a spot in the revival of Jesus Christ, Superstar. Just days before opening, the director moved him to front and center in the lead role of Judas. Having earned the attention of Andrew Lloyd Webber in the NYC and London productions of Superstar, Vincent was invited by the master to travel to China in 2001 for a special production of Webber's music in Beijing and Shanghai. And all that happened before he was 30.
"I've been really fortunate to pick and choose what I've been involved with," said Vincent, "and what's surprising is that I'm not really a fan of musical theater … but now there are so many opportunities in contemporary musicals that challenge the way people think and address important issues; they're not the candy-coated musicals of the past."
Having been given rave reviews internationally, Tony Vincent has come back to the desert of the Southwest. "It's the first time I've been in a dry climate during the summer since college and I love it!" He's in Las Vegas to open the rock stage show We Will Rock You at Paris Las Vegas Le Theatre des Arts. And it's a story and show that's close to his heart.
"These are some of the greatest rock and roll songs of the last decade," said Vincent of the musical that revels in British rock group Queen's music, everything from the well-known title track and "We are the Champions" to a collection of more than 20 of "Queen's chart-topping songs that never even made it to America."
With his heart in rock and roll music since he heard the first chords to the Beatles "Hard Days Night," Vincent is attached to We Will Rock You for more than its music. "It's set in 2300 and is a futuristic story in a time where music has been outlawed. It's a romantic comedy about these two kids who never really fit in," he said, relating it to his own experience. "The character I play, Galileo Figaro, doesn't fit until he finds a guitar … and that's very similar to me growing up. I was this kid who never really fit in and was always looking for something different."
The New Mexico native has certainly found where he fits now. We Will Rock You played to sold-out audiences six nights a week in London and the Las Vegas schedule is proving to be a sell-out too. And after this? Vincent wants to continue to do his best to make a difference.
"What I want is to be successfully challenging people with whatever entertainment I'm involved." And for this Albuquerque son who has done so well, the recording artist-actor-songwriter-musician-singer has a lot of options.
Dawn Shepherd is a freelance writer with her own consulting firm specializing in friend- and fund-raising. She's been a professional actor and director, and is now completing her Ph.D. in the psychology of creativity.