A journey that included freelancing, part-time jobs, mini contracts and a whole lot of commitment may have just paid off for Kevin Zambrano, a 2014 graduate of Burbank High School.
The 23-year-old is in New York City preparing for his Broadway debut as a member of the Sharks in a revival of the classic musical “West Side Story,” scheduled to open in February.
“It’s really surreal, and it hasn’t necessarily hit yet,” Zambrano said via phone before catching a flight to the Big Apple. “This is something I wanted since I was 8, to dance on Broadway.”
The show is set to preview at the Broadway Theatre, starting on Dec. 10, before opening on Feb. 6, 2020. “West Side Story” is slated to run through early June.
“Achieving a dream is so different than just dreaming about it,” Zambrano said. “I’m very excited, and I hope it’s a testament of hard work paying off.”
Zambrano was a member of Burbank High School’s award-winning show choir program and dance team and took those talents to the California Institute of the Arts, or CalArts, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in dance in 2018.
Since that summer, Zambrano kept his desire to pursue dance as a career by several means.
“I had a part-time job in a ballet studio, and I would work with different dance companies, sometimes with one-show contracts,” he said. “I taught classes here and there, and I freelanced.”
Zambrano said his main focus was “to meet as many choreographers in L.A.” as he could, while trying to build his name.
As for Broadway, Zambrano’s path to the bright lights included a little bit of luck.
According to Zambrano, it was at a family dinner when a longtime friend mentioned auditions were taking place in Los Angeles for the musical.
“It was kind of a the-universe-is-sending-you-a-message thing that kind of fell into my lap,” Zambrano said. “Our family friend got me an audition, and I was excited.”
Zambrano said his expectations were low, even with the opportunity.
After several rounds of auditions spanning two weeks, Zambrano said he received an invitation in February to try out, but needed to do so in New York City.
After flying there, Zambrano said he auditioned for three days straight, with some sessions lasting over nine hours.
While in New York, Zambrano stayed at the apartment of life-long friend, former classmate and aspiring actress Erika Reyes.
“I’ve always thought Kevin was incredibly talented, and he has such a unique vision as an artist,” Reyes said. “It’s so beautiful to see that he’s getting to work and tell these stories at such as a young age.”
It took a month of waiting, but Zambrano received the response he had been waiting for: “You’ve got the job.”
Months later, the soon-to-be Broadway dancer isn’t exactly sure what cinched the position.
“I really never thought through the process that this would happen, but I just kept getting further and further in,” Zambrano said. “The only thing I was sure of is that I would stay true to myself and do my best and let the decision be made on that.”
Reyes may know Zambrano as well as anybody.
The duo first met at a Burbank summer show camp when they were around 8 years old, Reyes said, and worked together on a production called “California: The Musical.”
Reyes said she “freaked out” when she saw Zambrano’s face on a billboard in New York City touting the show.
“I was like, ‘I know him, I know him,’” she said. “That’s my friend.”