Feature photo of Matteo Scammell and Amanda Robles by Mark Garvin
Wrapping up the 2022-2023 Main Stage season at Walnut Street Theatre is the fun, tropical vibes of Escape to Margaritaville. Set to the music of Jimmy Buffett, Parrot Heads and theatre fans alike will love this journey to paradise as a heartwarming story about finding yourself and happiness in unexpected places. The show is filled with many University of Arts grads, too, including lead Amanda Robles who came to Philly for her BFA in Musical Theatre. Below, Amanda talks about her education in Philly, her role in the show and even her favorite tropical drink. Escape to Margaritaville runs through April 30th, so get your tickets here.
Q: You appeared in your first musical at the age of 16. What musical? Why did you decide to audition?
A: My first musical ever was GREASE. I had auditioned for Sandy and I ended up playing Rizzo, which at the time seemed like the end of the world. But it honestly taught me a lot and I still call some people in that cast friends. My high school didn’t have a drama program until that time. I was really into sports and always sang on the side. It wasn’t until Mr. Robert Kennedy (still a mentor of mine today) stepped in and made that drama program what it is today. Amity Regional High School in CT now has an award winning program that I am proud to say I was a little part of the start of.
Q: What made you want to attend University of the Arts here in Philadelphia? How has your education there helped you get to where you are now in your acting career?
A: I actually never visited Philly until I got into UArts. I wasn’t able to audition and actually made a video audition. But when I ended up going on a tour Broad Street sold me. The Avenue of the Arts was such a vibrant place and I was in awe of how many theaters were just blocks from each other. With that being said, each theater and theater company had something to offer me as a student. I was able to learn from working professionals in Philly that till this day, enjoy working for and seek out during audition season. Philly has such a tight knight theater community that I gravitate towards and try to come back to at least once a year.
Q: What are some of your favorite roles to date?
A: Definitely has to be Aldonza in Man of La Mancha. I was trained classically and this is one of the only roles I really got to show that off. I also am a huge Tim Rice fan I right before everything shut down I was able to play Florence in Chess. This role was actually in Philly with 11th Hour Theater Co. And last summer I was able to play Vanessa in In the Heights. This musical is one of my favorites and songs in that show were actually my audition songs for college.
Q: How did you end up being a part of Escape To Margaritaville at Walnut Street Theatre?
A: I have always made it a point to audition for the Walnut Street Theater during audition season. Brian Kurtas has always called me in and actually was a part of my showcase process in college, so we have known each other for a while. I had made a video audition that I actually deleted and he had to call me to reload it. I know I’m not the “typical type” to play Rachel but I think that’s what attracted the director, Lisa Stevens, to take a second look at my video.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your character and her role in the show?
A: Rachel is a smart, headstrong, beautiful inside and out young woman that you always want to have in your corner. She is explained in the script as a woman that every guy wants and every girl wants as a friend. She knows what she wants almost to a fault. Rachel is an environmental scientist that really wants to get her name out there with an out of this world discovery and uses her best friend bachelorette party as an excuse to make this discovery. However, someone ends up showing her that work isn’t all there is and love can even break though a guarded heart.
Q: Do you have a favorite song or scene in Escape To Margaritaville?
A: Oooooo! So even though I don’t sing it, it has to be 5 O’clock Somewhere. My high school volleyball coach was a Parrot Head and made us warmup on game days to Jimmy’s greatest hits album. This was the first song we would always enter the gym on. It just brings me back.
Q: If you were on vacation in the Caribbean, what would be your go-to drink order at the island bar?
A: I’m definitely a Mojito girl. My parents are from Puerto Rico and I can’t go a summer without one. It ranges from classic to mango to passion fruit to guava through out the summer.
Q: Why do you think Philadelphia audiences should come see the show?
A: This show has a lot of heart. It really will make you forget about real life for a little while. I always feel better coming out of this show and I think the audiences have as well. A couple of frozen margaritas during the show help that too. But it really is a feel good musical with the beach and acoustic guitar mixed in.