Lorenzo Alviso on transcending fear through acting
Anyone doubting the practical value of going on stage should talk to Lorenzo Alviso.
With his new job as group sales manager for Transcendence Theatre Company, the Petaluma resident is constantly interacting with the public - and enjoying it. A few years ago, however, the prospect of public speaking would have literally made him ill.
Then he became an actor.
“For a guy who had a lot of anxiety in middle school and high school, this life is so different,” said Alviso. “Five years of performance experience has helped me so much. Once I got past the ‘throw-up moment,’ I started having positive life experiences.”
Located in Sonoma, Transcendence produces seasonal programming of live outdoor Broadway-style concerts at Jack London State Historic Park, as well as the upcoming Broadway Holiday Spectacular. Alviso develops and executes sales and project management for group ticket sales for the company.
If fear is impeding your pursuit of a dream, he recommends jumping in and getting past that “throw-up moment.”
“I started acting in 2014 by playing a part in “The Phantom of the Opera” at Santa Rosa Junior College,” he said. Since then, he has performed in musicals throughout the North Bay, most recently in “The Rocky Horror Show” at Marin Musical Theatre Company. Other shows include “Company,” “South Pacific,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown,” “Grease” and “Titanic the Musical.” His next show will be the musical “Urinetown” at Spreckels Performing Arts Center, opening Feb. 14, 2020.
“I consider myself a singer who acts,” he said. “My range is baritone-tenor. I’m from a musical family. My grandfather on my mother’s side loved Latin music, although he was an Irishman.
He was a guitarist and pianist who grew up in San Francisco and married a woman from El Salvador. On my father’s side we’re Mexicans.”
At this stage in his performance history, Alviso mostly plays ensemble, or crowd, roles.
They may look relatively easy compared to principal roles, but they are just as hard.
“I love ensemble work,” Alviso said. “I’ve learned from good local actors how to do it. I feel the ensemble plays the biggest character in the show because it creates the universe of the show. If successful, the actors ensure the believability of the show.”
Alviso’s musical background includes twelve years of playing clarinet in middle and high schools. This has provided him the technical skills to work as a singer on stage, as well as the ability to connect with musicians.
“I’m always interested in what the pit is doing,” he said, referring to the area where live musicians are found in most musicals. “When I was performing at Spreckels, I noticed that all the musicians would gather before a show to pump each other up and get ready. Unlike most of my fellow actors, I would hang out with the musicians.”
Many of Transcendence Theatre Company musicians are local, he pointed out. Alviso describes Transcendence is a “referral business,” meaning that the recruitment of players, musicians and staff tends to be done on the basis of referrals.
“The culture comes first,” he said, a culture of camaraderie, teamwork and shared mission.
The Broadway Holiday Spectacular will be a blend of traditional holiday programming and surprises. The cast includes veterans of such Broadway hits at “Wicked,” “Mary Poppins” and “Phantom of the Opera.” The pre-show will include such hilarities as the annual Ugliest Sweater Contest.
The performers in the show are almost all working Broadway artists who normally do eight shows a week back in New York. For them, a stint with Transcendence in Wine Country, with lots of time to relax, is almost like a vacation. In the spirit of shared labor, they often help with ticketing and other tasks, as well as mixing with the crowd.
“We like to give the guests a backstage-pass feeling,” said Alviso.
Alviso’s five years of performance experience are the backbone of his current job. It has helped him come alive in his presentations and public activities for Transcendence. Also, his insights into all aspects of a theatrical production - what’s going on backstage, who is new to the company, etc. - help him craft a compelling story for prospective customers.
“I’m very conversational now,” Alviso said. “I learned the secret of just sharing, not selling. I’m a storyteller.” When talking to a potential customer, Alviso begins by asking if they have experienced a Transcendence show. If not, he asks them if they are ready to have the best night ever.
Alviso briefly studied English at SRJC, but soon decided he would rather be in the work world. He trained as an EMT and worked in Marin County for five years.
“I found I internalized too much of the patients’ pain,” he allowed. “I realized that I live in such a beautiful place, I want to do something more joyful.”
He worked at Paradise Ridge Winery for a period, drawn more by the management of events than by the wine industry, per se. Then he worked as the manager of a dental office. After his dental gig, he worked for an international dental marketing office. One of his tasks was making “secret shopper calls” in which he would telephone an office pretending to be a prospective patient, in order to evaluate how the office handled such phone calls.
Seeking more stimulating work, he let it be known that he was interested in a marketing job in the arts. “Leesa Young, box office manager at Transcendence, called me and said Stephan Stubbins, the co-executive director, was looking for a marketing person,” he said.
He joined the company last March.
Alviso says Transcendence is growing rapidly and becoming a tourist destination, as evidenced by an article on the enterprise last summer in the Los Angeles Times.
“I will always do theater,” Alviso said. “Transcendence has been gracious in allowing me to continue performing while doing this vital job. Someday I want to direct, but first I have two dreams, both of which require getting past the throw-up moment. The first is doing standup comedy. Comedians put it all on the line.”
The second dream, he said, is to expand into acting in non-musicals.
All of which will require him to transcend a bit himself, and Alviso feels that his job is a great place to do that, all the daily culture is all about growing, for everyone from the staff, to the performers to the audience.
“To transcend,” said Alviso, “means to go beyond the usual limits.”
That’s what he now gets to do every single day.