Talking With Janet Dacal

If the face and name are familiar, that’s because Janet Dacal starred as Alice in Wonderland, the Broadway musical that had its origins at the Straz Center.

She returns to our stage starring in the Tony Award®-winning The Band’s Visit, a musical about Egyptian musicians who find themselves stranded in a small Israeli town. Janet’s musical career began under the wing of Grammy® winner Gloria Estefan, singing background on several of her albums. On Broadway, she originated the role of Carla in the Tony-winning In The Heights, also appearing in Prince of Broadway, Kiss of the Spiderwoman and Evita. In 2020, she released an album My Standards, a collection of her favorite songs with a Cuban-American flair.

Janet in Wonderland by Rob/Harris Productions, Inc. (left) and in The Band’s Visit by Evan Zimmerman, MurphyMade (right).

How did you get started in the business?
My first professional theatrical experience was taking over for the role of Maria, in a musical review called, Four Guys Named Jose … and Una Mujer Named Maria. My dear friend, Henry Gainza referred me for the job. It was coming to South Florida after a run off-Broadway in NYC. I auditioned and got the role and my Equity card because of it.

What’s always in your refrigerator?
Sofrito! It’s the base for most Spanish cooking. It’s a combination of peppers, onion, garlic, olive oil and other spices.

What is your worst quality?
Overthinking. I had difficulty deciding how to answer this question because my head and my heart argue with each other.

What music is on your playlist?
It depends on my mood. These days, it’s mostly meditation music to help me relax and unwind after a long day.

What’s your sign and what does it say about you?
Aquarius. According to Google, Aquarius women have strong personalities as they are independent and free-spirited. They carve their own paths. They love their freedom and space. Being self-sufficient and self-reliant are a few of the reasons behind their strength and self-confidence. I would say this is true.

Cat person or dog person?
DOG!!!! I just got my first puppy and I am absolutely crazy about him. His name is Omar Sharif, named after the song I sing in The Band’s Visit. Plus, I’m actually physically allergic to cats.

What’s the greatest thing since sliced bread?
My dog, Omar. And Nutella.

What’s your “guilty pleasure” television show?
Love Is Blind on Netflix. I’m in the middle of season 2 and will probably binge watch the rest of the season after I finish answering these questions.

In the movie version of your life, who would play you?
If I have to pick one, I’m picking the best one … Meryl Streep.

Who or what inspires you?
So many things, my parents, a sunny day, the ocean, my colleagues, people who overcome adversity and are resilient, kindness.

What do you consider your greatest successes – personally and professionally?
They’re intertwined. My greatest success personally has been my ability to fight for my passion and make a career out of it. My parents sacrificed so much to make a life for me here in the United States. All I heard growing up was, do what you love because you can. And I did.

If you hadn’t chosen a career as an entertainer, what other career path do you think you’d have followed?
Well, now that I have Omar, a dog trainer.

This Q&A was originally published in INSIDE, the official magazine of The Straz.

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