At the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, local students are able to experience the live performing arts through Center initiatives and programs. Using what they have learned, some have gone on to establish successful careers for themselves, showcasing their passion and dedication to the arts. One such example is Center Stage High School Musical Theater Program alum, Felix Torrez-Ponce. Recently joining the ensemble cast of Broadway’s revival of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Felix is set to make his official Broadway debut performing alongside stars Annaleigh Ashford, Josh Groban, Jordan Fisher, Gaten Matarazzo and more. I spoke with Felix about what the Center Stage Program means to high school students, what he has done since his time in the program and his upcoming ensemble cast role in Sweeney Todd.
Joining the inaugural season of the Center Stage High School Musical Theater Program as a junior from Green Bay Southwest High School in the 2016-17 Season, Felix was among the program’s first participants. “It was a very exciting time, and we were looking forward to the adjudicators coming to watch and critique our high school musical,” Felix commented. “I remember it being a fun thing that we were a part of and there were a lot of great workshops.” Green Bay Southwest would then be invited to perform in the Center Stage High School Musical Theater Showcase for the program’s season close on the Fox Cities P.A.C.’s Thrivent Hall stage. Felix was nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Lead Actor for his portrayal of the Beast in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. This in turn would allow Felix to represent the Fox Cities P.A.C. at The National High School Musical Theatre Awards® (the Jimmy Awards®) in New York in a national showcase.
At 17 years old, Felix traveled to New York for the first time, representing his school and the Fox Cities P.A.C. Felix was able to experience things that he had only dreamed about: meeting, training and performing with Broadway professionals and talented high school students from across the country on a Broadway stage. “It was an amazing experience, and my friends, family and school were very excited for me,” Felix remarked. “I made some friendships there and even now I’m still connected with some of them on social media. Some of them have gone on and have careers on Broadway. It’s great being able to connect with some of them in New York and remember those times.”
Since leaving the Center Stage High School Musical Theater Program, Felix studied acting at UW -Stevens Point and spent four years honing his skills. Felix not only took part in UW-Stevens Point stage productions, but has also traveled to performing arts centers in Iowa and Denver, Colorado. Graduating in spring 2022, Felix made the move to New York. Now his immediate attention is directed towards his official Broadway debut as an ensemble member in the revival of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. “It’s surreal, but there’s a lot of moments that keep happening that make it feel more real. It’s amazing to live in that, but you do have to be present and focus on the work at hand,” he enthusiastically shared. Felix also mentioned that the show just made it through its first official sing through on Sunday, January 15.
Felix is joined in his official Broadway debut by four other cast members who are also experiencing the magic for the first time. We talked about the familiar names starring in the show, commenting on the shared experience of growing up listening to Josh Groban. He has been a staple in my household, with a few family members, myself included, performing some of his songs. As it happens, Felix’s mom is also a fan of Josh Groban. Felix joked, “My mom is just as excited to see me perform on Broadway as she is to meet Josh Groban.”
Being a part of the Center Stage High School Musical Theater Program, Felix discovered that theater can expand beyond high school. By engaging in workshops, students are able to see how to make a life and career in Broadway, just as Felix and his high school peers witnessed. “This time (in the Center Stage Program) really motivated and inspired us, and I think it continues to do that for other students. The Fox Cities P.A.C. does a really good job at providing opportunities for high school students who enjoy theater as a hobby or passion.”
Thank you to our Corporate Partner, Fox Communities Credit Union for helping support this educational initiative.
By Philomena Dorobek, Brand Storyteller
Fox Cities Performing Arts Center