When Nickelodeon revived its popular kids series “Blue’s Clues” in 2019, the show found its new host on Broadway. Josh Dela Cruz was doing eight shows a week in “Aladdin” when he won the part on “Blue’s Clues and You!” — and now he’s bringing animated pup Blue with him to Broadway in “Blue’s Big City Adventure,” the new movie-musical now streaming on Paramount Plus.
Listen to this week’s “Stagecraft” podcast below:
In the film, the character played by Dela Cruz, also named Josh, heads to New York City to audition for a Broadway show. For the actor, the overlap between musical theater and “Blue’s Clues and You!” is an obvious one: “I think we have a lot in common just in the way that we as musical theater lovers place an importance on empathy and learning about different people who we might not agree with in real life,” Dela Cruz said on the new episode of Stagecraft, Variety‘s theater podcast. “We love songs. We love dancing. Our show really leans into that, and I think that’s why when they decided to make a movie, they were like, ‘Well, let’s make it a musical!’”
Dela Cruz, who spent five years in Broadway’s “Aladdin” and also appeared in stage shows including “Here Lies Love,” certainly has the chops for the movie’s big song-and-dance numbers, filmed on location in Times Square, Central Park and other recognizable New York spots. The movie’s supporting cast also draws heavily on Broadway regulars including Phillipa Soo, Steven Pasquale and Tony winners Ali Stroker and BD Wong.
The involvement of Wong, a fellow Asian American who found a path to success in the entertainment industry, was particularly meaningful to Dela Cruz. “[‘Miss Saigon’ Tony winner] Lea Salonga and BD Wong are still so important to me to this day,” said the actor, who is the first Asian American Pacific Islander to host a major children’s TV series. “When I was younger, they were able to play four-dimensional characters that had depth. They were never the butt of the joke. There were able to play real people that I wanted to play. … The reason why I was in theater [in the first place] was because I knew that there was a path, via [Wong’s] work. That was huge for me.”
Also on the new episode of Stagecraft, Dela Cruz detailed how the self-care routine he developed while working on Broadway has helped him keep up with his equally demanding TV work, and revealed the unlikely way in which his theater experience corresponds to his green screen-heavy work on “Blue’s Clues and You!”
“If you study musical theater, you pretty much don’t have any props, you don’t have any sets, you don’t have any costumes,” he said. “You’re wearing, like, a T-shirt and jeans and sneakers. That’s pretty much what it’s like working on ‘Blue’s Clues.’ You’re in the green screen but it’s just a green blackbox theater. A lot of that is translatable.”
Dela Cruz also talked directorial ambitions, “Aladdin” antics — and name-dropped the current Off Broadway show he’d love step into someday.
To hear the full conversation, listen at the link above or download and subscribe to “Stagecraft” on podcast platforms including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and the Broadway Podcast Network. New episodes of “Stagecraft” are released every other week.