This groundbreaking trans actress will soon premier in an award-winning Broadway musical


MJ Rodriguez as Blanca Rodriguez in “Pose”Photo: FX

MJ Rodriguez, the trans actress gained fame by playing Blanca Rodriguez-Evangelista in Ryan Murphy‘s ballroom drama Pose, will soon star alongside another well-known gay actor in a production of an award-winning Broadway musical.

Rodriguez and gay actors Matthew Wilkas and Kevin Chamberlin will soon appear in a production of the sci-fi comedy musical Little Shop of Horrors at the state theatre of California, the Pasadena Playhouse.

Related: The Christian right is worried that the gays are ruining the musical ‘Oklahoma’

Rodriguez will play the voice of Audrey II, a smooth-talking carnivorous plant from another planet with an insatiable hunger for human flesh. Chamberlin will play Mr. Mushnik, the merchant who becomes murderously greedy when Audrey II brings his plant shop newfound fortune and fame.

Wilkas will play the role of Orin Scrivello, a sadistic dentist who abuses Audrey, his soft-spoken girlfriend who works in Mr. Mushnik’s Skid Row plant shop. Scrivello laters overdoses on laughing gas and is fed to the plant by the musical’s reluctant antihero, Seymour.

Matt Wilkas, Gayby, Little Shop of Horrors
Matt Wilkas in “Gayby” Gayby

Chamberlin has appeared in several gay films like In & Out, Trick the Netflix dramedy series Grace and Frankie. He has also appeared in mainstream films like the 1995 Bruce Willis action sequel Die Hard with a Vengeance and the 2002 Tom Hanks gangster drama Road to Perdition. He has been nominated for several Tony Awards for his onstage work.

Wilkas played the lead in Gayby, a 2012 feature-length comedy about a gay man in New York City looking to have a baby with his best female friend. He has appeared in numerous TV and film roles and once dated Olympic freestyle skiing champion Gus Kenworthy — the two kissed on TV in a historic first at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Rodriguez began acting at age 11. She won a Clive Barnes Award for playing Angel, the gender-fluid, HIV-positive street drummer in a 2011 off-Broadway production of Rent during her late teen years — it was her professional debut.

She transitioned in her 20s and then re-emerged into the acting world, playing small roles in Nurse Jackie, The Carrie Diaries, Luke Cage and the film Saturday Church.

Little Shop of Horrors runs at Pasadena Playhouse from Sept. 17 to Oct. 20, 2019.


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