Mando Alvarado

(O)N THE 5:31

A bar. A blind date. And a trip into what could have been and what really happened.

Mando Alvarado was raised in Pharr, Texas, a small town located on the Texas/Mexico Border. His first foray into the world of theater was in the 7th grade. He was failing Drama and needed to pass the class in order to play Jr. High Football. Everyone in Texas knows that Football is way more important than Drama but that argument didn’t hold water and his Drama teacher coerced him into the school One-Act Play, You Can’t Take It with You. He was horrible but that’s all it took. From then on, Drama was more important than Football.

Two things happened that kept him on the path of low paying theater jobs and restaurant employment. First, his fiancé broke off their engagement, throwing him into a world of disarray, pondering life’s big questions every 22 year-old asks when he’s confronted with the fact that true love is for suckers. And second, while skimming the pages of the local San Antonio City Paper, he found an acting class in the classified ads next to the section advertising any kind of escort you could imagine. Luckily for him, he chose the acting class. The teacher was previously an acting professor at Carnegie Melon and her words of advice were, “If you want to do this professionally, you need to get trained.” So, with his hair slicked back and his J.C. Penney tie, he auditioned for the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. And he got in.

Soon, he realized that the acting was not as fulfilling as being the one who created the story. So, he dove into playwriting. After graduating college, he was part of a fellowship at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. where he developed and wrote his first solo show, We’re Mericans. Soon after, the big move to New York happened. While pounding the pavement, he wrote his first full length play, Throat, which was presented Off-Off Broadway at the 45th St Theater and then went on a three city tour finishing up back in New York City at INTAR. He also had the opportunity to study under Eduardo Machado (Hung), a disciple of Maria Irene Fornes, at INTAR’s Hispanic Playwright in Residence Laboratory.

During his residency, he wrote two plays, Basilica and Post No Bills. After grinding it out for a couple of years, his playwriting career started taking off. Post No Bills was produced Off-Broadway at Rattlestick Playwright’s Theater. Last summer his play Sangre, an adaptation of Blood Wedding, premiered in Central Park’s SummerStage. He also wrote the book for the Yellow Brick Road, a bilingual musical adaptation of the Wizard of Oz for Theaterworks USA which received is critically acclaimed Off-Broadway premiere at the Lortel Theater. His play (O)n THE 5:31 was commissioned and presented by Rising Phoenix Rep's Cino Nights and his play, Rear Exit, was presented as a part of The Atlantic Theater’s Latino Theater Festival.

Having experienced some success in theater, he thought it was time to tackle the world of film. So, he co-wrote and co-directed his feature film, CruzandoM, which won praise and accolades and screened at the HBO New York International Latino Film Festival, Newport Beach International Film Festival, the London Latino International Film Festival and Athens Film Festival. After getting a distribution deal for Cruzando by Vanguard Cinema, he was feeling good. And then life happened. He married the production coordinator for the film and soon they were expecting. New York’s a hard place to raise a child so he packed up what he could and moved the family to Los Angeles.

These last few months, he’s had the opportunity to work with Craig Wright (Dirty Sexy Money), co-writing a romantic comedy, After You and assisting him on another feature film, Magic Kingdom for Sale, for Warner Bros. He has also developed three spec pilots, Natalie on the Loose, The Advancers and Boomerang. And his play Basilica will be presented by Rattlestick Playwright's Theater at the Cherry Lane in the spring. Today, he spends his days taking morning walks with his daughter in the Bjorn, writing in the afternoon, and enjoying the cool evenings with his wife, cooking veggie friendly meals, it’s LA after all.

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