Special to the Record
Actor and Chelsea resident Jaime Hernández plays Count Paris, a suiter of Juliet, in Apollinaire Theatre Company’s FREE, on-your-feet, bi-lingual presentation of “Romeo and Juliet” in Chelsea Square this month.
Hernández is a young man who knew from a very young age that he wanted to be an actor, and pursued opportunities in a manner beyond his years. While still in high school he would audition around Boston, “for big theatres too, like the Lyric Stage. I knew I didn’t want to go to college, and I was hungry and didn’t want to wait,” he explains.
One of his first professional roles was with Zeitgeist Stage.
“I didn’t feel ready,” he admits. “But I learned so much, like how to be less demonstrative on the stage, especially since it was in the Black Box Plaza. I had to be more natural.”
Also as a high school student, he called Chelsea’s professional theatre, Apollinaire Theatre Company, inquiring about job openings and auditions. (One of the first shows he saw was Apollinaire’s Rhinoceros in Mary O’Malley Park, which his parents took him too. He recalls the actors thundering across the park in their rhino costumes.) Apollinaire’s Artistic Director, Danielle Fauteux Jacques, picked up the phone and let him know that while there were currently no openings, he should look into their youth program, Apollinaire Play Lab (APL). After taking a youth class and acting in the APL’s production of Latin American Folk Tales, he quickly formed a relationship with the professional side of the company. Today he heads up the Governing Board of Teatro Chelsea, Apollinaire’s bi-lingual theatre project. He also helped to shape Apollinaire’s Resident Artist Program and serves on the Selection Panel.
“I’d like to thank Danielle for a lot the opportunities she’s given me,” Hernández said.
His first job out of high school was with the Tea Party Museum as a historical reenactor playing Nicolas Campbell, a sailor from Malta. He was the youngest person hired and the only one on the team who did not have a bachelor’s degree. He prefers to learn on the job and to be an observer, and he has taken many chances to do so. Before being cast in Romeo and Juliet, he was an Assistant Stage Manager for several Apollinaire productions. “I would watch the actors and learn what techniques I wanted to bring to my own acting.” He would, and still does, sit in on Apollinaire auditions. And he sees A LOT of theatre around Boston.
Just before the pandemic hit, Hernández caught a 1 a.m. bus to Times Square to audition for an Off-Broadway show.
“I felt like an actor,” he says. “After the audition I saw a show at Playwrights Horizons.”
While he was not cast, he was seen, which in itself is rare for a non-union actor. Of course, with the pandemic there have not been any recent trips to New York for auditions. He also notes that Greyhound has cut back on its times including the 1am to NYC which would get one to Times Square at 5 a.m., a perfect time to arrive for auditioning.
Hernández saw the film industry recovering from the pandemic quicker than theatre and sought out film work. Last fall he signed to an agency and has appeared in several commercials. He sees a lot of opportunities for actors in Boston now and isn’t in any rush to relocate.
“With the tax credit [in Massachusetts] for filmmakers, the film industry is booming,” he said.
Theatre is now thankfully making its return as well! Romeo and Juliet marks Apollinaire’s own return to in-person shows and Hernández’s return to in-person performing. For the next two Saturdays, August 21 and 28 (Sunday rain dates), Chelsea Square is bursting with action.
The fun begins at 6 p.m. in the pop-up Beer Garden featuring BearMoose Brewing Company and live musical performances. Folks can also get takeout and eat it at tables set up in the Square. Romeo and Juliet starts at 7:45 and the Beer Garden is open after the performance too.
This production marks Hernández’s third time performing Shakespeare and first time doing so in Spanish. The bi-lingual production features some characters that speak entirely in Spanish (i.e., Romeo and Count Paris), some that speak entirely in English (i.e., Juliet, Friar Lawrence), and several that move fluidly back and forth between the two. The classic tale can be fully enjoyed by English-speakers and Spanish-speakers alike.
“I hope other people from Chelsea try to get involved in the [Apollinaire] theatre,” Hernández said. “I want people to know that the theatre welcomes them.”
For more information about Apollinaire Theatre Company visit: www.apollinairetheatre.com