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Anyone who has ever wondered how a Broadway star is born can watch it happening to Raúl E. Esparza.

New York Times, December 2001

One of our finest and most versatile actors.

New York Magazine, May 2004 

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Lionel Bart's Oliver! (Fagin) - New York City Center May 2023


Esparza -- One of Broadway’s most accomplished leading men. His return as Fagin draws on talents, like high-kick dancing, he hasn’t exhibited before. The singing remains movingly full-throated. This Fagin isn’t the completely evil menace previous Fagins have stressed. He plays the part with a more humorous edge and makes much of the man’s delight in the jewels he has amassed for his old age. It works a charm. At last Esparza, long missed, is back as good, if not better, than ever. (New York Stage Review)


Esparza makes a more-than-welcome and overdue return to the stage. (Theatermania)

The success of Oliver! depends on the casting of the central performances of Fagin and Nancy, and Raúl Esparza and Lilli Cooper not only do not disappoint, they exceed expectations. Fortunately, Esparza eschews broad stereotype and offers a complex and nuanced depiction while exuding effortless musical comedy showmanship. (Talkin' Broadway)


Seared (Harry) - MCC Theater Space  - Oct-Dec 2019


Esparza is especially tasty: Preparing meals on a working range onstage, he cooks with such passion and balletic precision that you understand why others have enabled Harry’s ego for so long. (Time Out NY)

I feel like the virtuosity of the performer is one of the things that makes going to the theater so exciting. To see someone in real-time do something we have no idea that they would ever be able to do and in this case, it is watching, for example, Raúl Esparza cook up a storm while arguing his heart out and fighting for this restaurant that he loves. (Forbes)

Harry is a talented chef. Everyone acknowledges that. And from the way he glides gracefully around the small Brooklyn kitchen depicted in Theresa Rebeck's Seared, we believe it. This is especially thanks to a nimble, passionate performance from Raúl Esparza, who seems to channel every hotshot chef I've ever met. Esparza, who last year injected life into an undead production of Bertolt Brecht's The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, once again brings his scorching presence to the stage, this time in service of a much meatier text. His physicality is so captivating that we watch him silently cook for several minutes, absolutely rapt. His monologues are like arias, delivered with operatic grandeur and overwrought emotion. He's loud and ridiculous, and we completely understand how this bouillabaisse bully has been able to get his way for so long. (Theatermania)

Esparza is marvelous as the complex, insecure ego-maniac who has everyone around him walking on egg shells. Harry is charismatic because Esparza is charismatic.(Splash Magazines)

There is an unusual treat — the ballet of meal preparation that occurs right before our eyes (and our noses), using real food in Tim Mackabee’s working kitchen of a set. Esparza either had a day job that we didn’t know about, or he spent a lot of time training with a real chef for this role. It is a surprisingly mesmerizing experience to witness the long wordless scene at the top of Act II in which Esparza meticulously prepares and cooks a wild salmon dish. (New York Theater)

“Seared,” a frenetic four-hander about a neurotic chef (Raúl Esparza, who is absolutely terrific) who thinks he’s an artist, is an impeccably built commercial comedy with serious overtones that never interfere with the laugh lines. (Wall Street Journal)


Road Show (Wilson Mizner) - New York City Center - July 2019


Esparza, following a long exile to the lucrative world of network TV, demonstrates how well-suited to the musical stage he is.Esparza is here a marvel and, in this opinion, far more compelling than his predecessors in the role. (New York Stage Review)

The production gains immeasurably from the lead performances. Esparza mines his bottomless charisma to terrific effect, entertainingly finding the dark humor in Wilson’s tragic flaws. (The Hollywood Reporter)

Esparza and Uranowitz have a wonderful chemistry and are both at home with the score and in their roles. It’s inspired casting and brings a new life to the material. (Exeunt NYC)

Esparza, who gets better and better with every show, oozes slick, smarmy charm (and has some entertaining bits of choreography). (Theatermania)


The Resistible Rise of Arturo (Arturo Ui) - Classic Stage Company - October-December 2018


The headline, though, is Ui, Ui, Ui, and no one really comes close to Esparza, who whiplashes between moods. He goofs around like a kid, plays broad, whacks the role with some commedia shtick—and then, when he decides to be menacing, he electrifies the room. (Time Out NY)

Happily, the production comes alive with the arrival of Esparza, who plays the title character with a convincing mixture of self-pity and pomposity. The rest of the cast rises to Esparza's vigorous, passionate performance. (Theatermania)

Ui is played with virtuosic panache by Raúl Esparza. (The New Yorker)

As Arturo Ui, Esparza is a beast - devouring the stage with his every step, clawing at the air with expressive hands, teasing us with his humor, bullying the audience with a malevolent stare. Richard III, eat your heart out. Esparza drives the production, moving seamlessly among a myriad of different moods with a feeling of utter spontaneity. He is electric - part Ru Paul, part Damon Runyon gangster, part disingenuous nebbish and all mad-dog killer. (New York Theater Guide)

As Arturo Ui, Raúl Esparza delivers a tour de force performance. (Exeunt NYC)


Cymbeline (Iachimo) -Delacorte Theater - Summer 2015


Raul Esparza’s gangster-garish electric-blue suit manages to stand out. So does the actor’s earnestly evil performance as the dastardly Iachimo. Esparza’s creepy-crawly technique is outstanding, and the devotion of the lovers makes it all quite touching. (Variety)

Theater fans get an added treat in the return of Raúl Esparza, who as Iachimo enters with a hilarious lounge-lizard production number and proceeds to be wicked and touching in equal measure. (USA Today)

Esparza — who’s the show’s standout — wears a sleek ’60s-style suit and comes out swinging, singing a Sinatra-ish original tune by Tom Kitt (“Next to Normal”). (NY Post)

Esparza is memorably creepy and slinky as the villain. (The Hollywood Reporter)

Chess (Freddie Trumper)Kennedy Center, 2018

Esparza, scaling up into the peak of his register, rocks out blazingly. (Washington Post)


Raúl Esparza, who Broadway lost to Law & Order SVU for six years, is back in musical-theatre-land and the gods rejoice. He brings a layered sensitivity to the tempestuous Trumper. His eleven o’clock number is a highlight of the show. “Pity the Child #3” is a heartbreaking and captivating portrait of a man on the brink. His rock tenor is unparalleled. (D.C. Metro)

Leap of Faith  (Jonas Nightingale)  -St. James Theater, 2012

Raúl Esparza sizzles like a firecracker in this musicalization of the 1992 Steve Martin pic. (Variety)

Esparza has a confident, commanding stage presence. (Entertainment Weekly)

“Chief among them is Esparza, a devilishly sexy showman who hard-sells emotional intensity like few others.”  (The Hollywood Reporter)

Leading man Raúl Esparza, one of Broadway's most naturally charismatic performers, gives Jonas a human side to juxtapose his cheesy stage persona. (USA Today)

They’ll admire its tunes by master songwriter Alan Menken (you always leave the theater humming his music), and its attractive and talented cast led by the superb Raúl Esparza as the preacher, Jonas Nightingale. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Raúl Esparza, the handsome and admirably complex star of the new screen-to-stage musical "Leap of Faith," is the guy you want in your show when your leading character is having a crisis of faith. Although Jonas Nightingale, the traveling huckster-preacher who takes small-town prairie innocents for the little they've got until he gets caught in one of his own traps, may seem a million miles away from Bobby in Stephen Sondheim's "Company" (Esparza's most acclaimed Broadway role to date), the two fellows actually have plenty in common. Both fall easily into Esparza's specialty — playing hard-to-read, cynical characters who draw their energy from others, and who always check to see who's in a room before entering…….Martin emphasized Jonas' flashy rhetorical theatrics when the collection plate came around. Esparza focuses more on his sense of self-loathing, which is the right way to go in the theater. There is a delicious cynicism to all Esparza does here. (Chicago Tribune)

Arcadia  (Valentine Coverly)  -Barrymore Theater, 2011

Raúl Esparza’s quiet, thoughtful, somewhat dreamy Valentine operates entirely and admirably in service of the play, which again is perfect for the character.​ (Vulture)

Raúl Esparza is deeply comfortable and melancholy as the mathematician trying to understand prescient messages left in Thomasina's school notes. (Newsday)

Quietly brilliant throughout is the restrained Raúl Esparza, playing Valentine, the dilettante mathematician and Coverly scion who uncovers Thomasina’s genius using modern iterative algorithms. His subdued, never-optimized passion for Hannah burns like a steady pilot light in the play’s soul, which is a melancholy one, though pleasingly so. (New York Magazine)

 Esparza brings an incisive intelligence to cynical Valentine. (The Hollywood Reporter)

Leap of Faith (Jonas Nightingale)  - Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles 2010


Ovation Award Nomination


"Esparza...along with the wonderful gospel choir, almost single-handedly keeps the show alive." (Hollywood Reporter)


"Esparza is a transcendent vocalist and good at playing a sleazeball. He really lights up in the second act... 'Jonas’ Soliloquy' nearly steals the night." (Neon Tommy)


"Esparza can deliver a soul-baring song like few other Broadway performers." (The Orange County Register)


"He is masterful in every aspect, a considerable feat with a role so new. His swagger and charisma as Jonas is infectious." (Los Angeles Downtown News)

Twelfth Night (Orsinio) - Delacorte Theater - 2009

"Mr. Esparza’s exasperated glower and wry line readings give the character an appealing, underdog humanity." (New York Times)


"Raúl Esparza makes an appealing and hunky Orsino." (New York Daily News)

Speed-The-Plow (Charlie Fox)- Barrymore Theater - 2008

“Mr. Esparza runs full speed ahead with his ambition-stoked character, tapping the full kinetic force he artfully kept under wraps in recent revivals of ‘Company’ and ‘The Homecoming.’ But while Charlie may be an animal in perpetual fight-or-flight mode, Mr. Esparza finds many shades and textures — of pride, humiliation, anger and resentment — within that primal instinct.” (New York Times)


"The glory of this production – the reason to see Raúl Esparza’s Charlie Fox. The quick-stop timing, the biting inflections, the final fury: all are superb. Esparza is the only actor on Broadway who can succeed in Sondheim one minute, and Pinter or Mamet the next." (Financial Times)


“Esparza, a Broadway star who slips effortlessly between musicals and plays, gives a supercharged performance. As he prowls the stage, dragging on cigarettes and staring out at something - the pot of gold? - he nails the essence of a twitchy man so close to success he'll explode if he misses his shot.” (NY Daily News)


“The threesome, Jeremy Piven, Elisabeth Moss and especially Raul Esparza, handle the language with ease.” (Associated Press)


“The TV name recognition factor for a well-cast Jeremy Piven and Elisabeth Moss is sure to attract customers -- and both actors do well by their roles -- but the super-heated intensity of Raúl Esparza's memorable performance drives the show fast and furiously.” (New Jersey Star-Ledger)


“Raúl Esparza's Charlie is more sharply funny, and more revelatory [than Piven’s Bobby]; his brutal resourcefulness at the end will leave you titillated and haunted.” (USA Today)


“The always amazing Esparza is the pushy underdog, all rapid-fire action and virtuosic language.” (New York Post)


“Raúl Esparza…makes a smashing impact in the role of a twitchy studio functionary who's waited too long for his big score.” (Washington Post)


“Broadway veteran Esparza -- who finds new venom every time he articulates ‘Bob’ -- gives a performance that taps all Charlie's uncertainty and volatility.” (Theater Mania)


“Esparza is unsurpassed at revealing ecstatic exuberance or, in a twinkling, unleashed rage. He acts equally commandingly with octave-storming voice, rampaging or cringing body and galvanized or galvanizing limbs. His expressions, by themselves, could knock over bowling pins or stop a steamroller.” (Bloomberg)


"Esparza has the lion's share of Mamet's signature machine-gun-style lines and has gone from A-game to virtuosic." (New York Daily News)


"Biggest treat: mercurial Raúl Esparza, who attacks Mamet’s rattling dialogue with the verve and inventiveness of a fearless jazz musician. When he noodles around in the play’s rhythms, we enjoy the ride and let notions of great art go f*** themselves." (Time Out New York)


"Esparza...continues to steal the show as Charlie Fox... Although he has a certain advantage given that his character has by far the most pungently hilarious lines, Esparza's machine-gun delivery and complex emotional shadings continue to astound." (Hollywood Reporter)

The Homecoming (Lenny) - Cort Theatre - 2007-2008


"Playing Pinter requires repressing the urge to act actively....Such restraint is especially remarkable in Mr. Esparza......For this year's revival of the musical "Company" he learned to stand still, with gratifying results. That didn't prepare me for the intricate layers he brings to the entrepreneurial Lenny. With only minor adjustments of facial expression and vocal inflection, Mr. Esparza conveys a multitude of impulses, simmering in coexistence." (New York Times)


"Ready to challenge Max on every front is smug, sneering Lenny, played by Esparza not as a physical bully but a psychological one. This approach is especially effective in Lenny's extended monologues, in his initial cat-and-mouse game with Ruth and in his sickening boasts about brutalizing other women." (Variety)


"How bracing to see Raúl Esparza, already cherished in musicals, bring his brooding eyes and intelligence to a style that, despite the almost musical demands, doesn't require him to break into song. He has a mesmerizing slickness as Lenny, the damaged but dominant middle son and neighborhood pimp." (Newsday)


"Raúl Esparza makes a potently pathetic Lenny, delivering Pinter's trademark pauses with as much rhythmic instinct as he's shown in his varied musical theater roles." (USA Today)


"Raúl Esparza, remarkably diverse in leading- man roles, adds, as Lenny, frightening if somewhat overloud villainy to his repertoire." (John Simon)


"Esparza, an actor of exceptional talent and versatility, who gave the definitive performance of Bobby last season in Company, is right at home in Pinterland. He injects his scenes with Best's Ruth with the kind of deliberately devilish baiting that is both exciting and unnerving." (Curtain Up)


"Esparza's sappy snippiness contrasts beautifully with McShane's brusque dudgeon" (Talkin Broadway)


"Esparza plays Lenny, who turns out to be a pimp, with menace and volatility." (NY Daily News)

Company (Bobby) - Barrymore Theatre, Broadway 2006-2007


Tony Award Nomination, Best Actor in a Musical
Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Outer Critics Circle Award, Outstanding Actor in a Musical


"Raúl Esparza strikes just the right balance of easy charm and circumspect distance, alone even in a crowd of friends. He's a deeply ambiguous mass of swirling contradictions -- confused but self-knowing, seductive but standoffish, vulnerable but heavily armored, open to love but ambivalent." (Variety)


"What makes Raúl Esparza the best Bobby I've seen is his ability to turn befuddlement into something quite touching. He is not just amused, bemused or put off by what he sees, he is more: sympathetically stymied, helplessly hamstrung." (Bloomberg News)


"It's Mr. Esparza who is the top expert on ambivalence here, giving Company the most compelling center it has probably ever had." (New York Times)


"Invigorated by the brooding charisma of Raúl Esparza, in the most controlled and captivating performance of his career, Doyle's Company proves a marvelous showcase for Sondheim's artistry." (Washington Post)


"Mr. Esparza, who almost never leaves the stage, offers a wholly plausible blend of charisma, aloofness, and crippling uncertainty to guide his splendid tenor through such masterful musical distillations of uncertainty as “Someone Is Waiting” and “Marry Me a Little.” (New York Sun)


"Of all the actors regularly gracing the Broadway stage these days I can't think of one more equipped for playing Bobby than Raúl Esparza. You can always look toward him for something positively fascinating." (BroadwayWorld)


Esparza has been hovering on the brink of Broadway stardom for some years, and this is a terrific role for him with his sad-eyed, brooding good looks, wry humor and passionate singing voice. (Variety)


If Bobby the bachelor, embodied with riveting understatement by Raúl Esparza, at first comes across as a man of ice, it becomes apparent that he is in a steady state of thaw. Given the subliminal intensity that hums through Mr. Esparza's deadpan presence, you sense that flood warnings should probably be posted. (New York Times) The important thing is that Esparza makes Bobby believable: He's a man who lives at arm's length from his feelings and as a result, is in danger of imploding. (Washington Post)


Esparza is again heart-stopping and show-stopping - there's a Tony Award nomination in this performance, at the least. His performance of “Being Alive,” the show's viscerally glorious finale when Bobby breaks from his cocoon, pulled a one-minute ovation from the audience. (Cincinnati Enquirer)


His Bobby's placid exterior hides enough bottled up emotional baggage to fill a season-long run of Hamlet. (BroadwayWorld)


Esparza's "Marry Me a Little" is especially moving, with Bobby desperately talking himself into the notion of commitment if not the object; his "Someone Is Waiting" harnesses the pain and panic of isolation; and he conveys mixed feelings of tenderness and dishonesty in "Barcelona," Bobby's doleful morning-after duet with flight attendant April. (Variety)


Though he sings beautifully throughout — in ways that define his character's solipsism — he brings transporting ecstasy to the agony of the concluding number, in which Bobby finally joins the band of human life. (New York Times)


Raúl Esparza’s turn as überbachelor Bobby is…mesmerizing. If you get through “Being Alive” without crying, you’re a hell of a lot stronger than we are. (Entertainment Weekly)


…when [Esparza] gets to unfurl for his big closing number—with his voice and playing on an instrument, at last—it’s like being in midtown when a blackout ends. (New York Magazine)

Company (Bobby) - Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park 2006


Enquirer Acclaim Award - Outstanding Musical Lead Performance 
Cincinnati Entertainent Award - Outstanding Acting Performance by a Visiting Actor


Mr. Esparza, giving what may well be the richest and strongest performance of his career, remakes the challenging character of Bobby as a seductive, moody figure. (New York Times)


In Raúl Esparza, a Miami-raised actor who has become one of Broadway's go-to leading men, [Company] has a star giving his best performance yet in an eclectic, ascendant career. (Miami Herald)


Any concerns that Raúl Esparza might be too dynamic a performer for the role of Bobby, who more or less functions as a blank slate upon which the neuroses of his friends and lovers are writ, are dispelled by this extraordinary actor's expertly calibrated performance. (Theater Mania)


Raúl Esparza embodies Robert with a deadpan awareness of his detachment from other people. His acting makes this character, which in reality doesn’t have a lot of lines for a central figure in a musical, a fully formed person who moves from passive observer of life to a man ready to connect with someone. (Talkin' Broadway)


Esparza makes Bobby everything he is supposed to be - smart and ironic, lonely and longing, afraid of the pain of feeling too much, sexy as all get out. (The Enquirer)


Esparza's Bobby ratchets up his emotional engagement as the tales progress: His Act I closer, "Marry Me A Little," cracks open the door, and it swings wide following his encounter with Joanne...laying the way for his heartfelt revelation in "Being Alive." The show's final moment, a sigh and a wish, is stunning. (City Beat)


Mr. Esparza inflects Bobby's wry considerations of his married friends' emotional dilemmas with slashes of dark humor slung straight at the audience, suggesting at times the mischief-making of Jon Stewart at his most deadpan. But his splendid singing throbs with an ardor that expresses the intense confusion under Bobby's veneer of semi-contented solitude. (New York Times)


He skillfully underplays the part with offhand humor and the occasional wry observation until the penultimate scene; when this Bobby shouts "Stop!" to finally silence the nattering of his married friends, it's a primal scream from the soul, so violent and seemingly throat-searing that Esparza's subsequent, gorgeous singing of the cathartic "Being Alive" is all the more astounding. (Theater Mania)


When Esparza finally sits down at the piano to accompany himself on the emotionally explosive Being Alive, he achieves one of those show-stopping moments that are the stuff of legends. (Miami Herald)

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Caractacus Potts) - Hilton Theater 2005


Outer Critics Circle Award Nomination - Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical


As Caractacus Potts, the dizzyingly gifted Raúl Esparza shines. (New York Magazine)


Insiders have considered Mr. Esparza to be Broadway's best young leading man for years. Now maybe the wider world will catch on. (The Dallas Morning News)


Esparza continues to amaze with his theatrical genre-crossing abilities. (Curtain Up)


The musical has a supremely overqualified cast, including the intensely talented Raúl Esparza as Caractacus Potts. (Newsday)


Raúl Esparza delves into his considerable arsenal of interpretive skills to make distracted widower Caractacus Potts both a deliciously eccentric inventor and a warmly loving father. (Miami Herald)


Raúl Esparza and Erin Dilly are charming as Potts and Scrumptious. (Hollywood Reporter)


Raúl Esparza sings the pretty-enough 'Hushabye Mountain' in that gorgeous baritone of his and dances Gillian Lynne's energetic 'Me Ol' Bamboo' choreography like a dervish. (Theater Mania)


There's an appealing, relaxed charm to Esparza's foppish Caractacus. (Variety)

The Normal Heart (Ned Weeks) - The Public Theater 2004


Drama League Honoree


Esparza gives a captivating performance in the central role. Even on those rare occasions when Ned is a mere observer, Esparza's glowering presence draws the attention. (Variety)

The Normal Heart remains a fiercely personal drama, centered on a high-strung hero much like the play-wright himself (ferociously played by Raúl Esparza. 

Played with massive intelligence, self-righteousness and charisma by the chameleonic talent Raúl Esparza. (Newsday)

Raúl Esparza proves himself yet again one of our finest and most versatile actors, sovereignly blending force and finesse, humor and deadly earnestness. (New York Magazine)


Raúl Esparza gives the finest performance of his career. (Musicals 101)


In a fearless performance as Ned Weeks, Raúl Esparza leads a flawless cast; he is, appropriately, the guarded aching heart around which the production is organized. (


Esparza draws from very deep places for this performance, playing all of Ned's rants with raw honesty and desperate passion. In the hands of a lesser actor, Weeks could sound shrill; that never happens here: Esparza plays him as the intelligent and articulate voice of terminally exasperated reason. (HX Magazine)


Raúl Esparza brings the extremely high level of intensity to The Normal Heart that theatergoers have come to expect from this gifted and mercurial performer. Somehow, here, though this energy seems to be tempered with such compassion and bewilderment that, while watching the production, it almost seems as if one is encountering Esparza for the first time. (American Theater Web)


As the trying, indefatigable Ned, Raúl Esparza is Heart's major throb. Esparza is a virile, determined, infuriated Ned. (Theater Mania)


It's a performance that infects your blood and overwhelms your emotions. (Talkin' Broadway)


Vivid and emotionally unrestrained. (Variety)


Bursts of anger are followed by self-deprecation and comic irony that disarm in their genuine humanity. When Ned and Felix fight...the volcano that erupts from within Esparza frightens, even as it seems somehow cathartic. (American Theater Web)


Esparza provides the sense of inner humanity that allows audiences to get beyond this character's harsh and sometimes disturbing outbursts of anger and frustration. It is one thing to justify Ned -- it is another to bring us into his soul. Esparza succeeds at the latter as well as the former, and the results will tear your heart out. (Musicals 101)

Taboo (Philip Sallon) - Plymouth Theater 2003-2004


Tony Award Nomination - Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical, 2004
Drama Desk Award - Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical, 2004
Drama League Honoree


As Sallon, the “pied piper of lost souls,” Raúl Esparza is characteristically stunning. Mr. Esparza carries the evening. (New York Sun)


Esparza's outrageous Philip Sallon provides narration and irreverent commentary. He almost steals the show. (NY1)


There is the ever-more-surprising New York theater original, Raúl Esparza...when this actor sings Sondheim, he is a Sondheim specialist. When he sings pop, he growls and belts with the authenticity of a rock star. (Newsday)


Straddling the two worlds with mesmerizing intensity is Raúl Esparza as Philip Sallon, a rival of Bowery’s and supporter/friend to Boy George. Esparza literally oozes his way into the audience’s heart in the musical’s opening moments. (American Theatre Web)


The cast is superb, especially Morton, a sweet-voiced doppleganger [sic] for Boy George, and Esparza, an electric Broadway star, who touches the humanity behind the high-camp shallowness of Sallon. (Time)


The show's two best songs - "Talk Amongst Yourselves" and "Petrified" - are sung by the show's two best performers, McCartney and Esparza respectively. The first is delivered with such vocal power and the second with such cataclysmic restraint, that they're the show's only truly thrilling and chill-inducing moments. (Talkin' Broadway)


The supporting cast comes from the top rank of rising talent in the American musical theater. Raúl Esparza as George's friend Philip and Liz McCartney as Leigh's friend Big Sue narrate the story. Each has a song in the second act that stops the show – just two in a series of outstanding numbers at the climax. As the first half of the Broadway season draws to a close, this pair has the inside track on Tony Awards for supporting performances. (The Dallas Morning News)

Green Violin (Mikhoels) - Prince Music Theater 2003


Barrymore Award - Outstanding Actor in a Musical, 2003


Taking on the nearly impossible task of portraying one of the world's great actors, Esparza is brilliant. His voice is perfectly suited to the many elements that make up London's klezmer-based score. He also has the ability to embody the multifaceted Mikhoels, who as an actor and a somewhat unwilling mouthpiece for Stalin's repressive regime is a man of intense contradictions, all of which are reconciled within Esparza's intuitive reading. (Philadelphia Weekly)


Right now, the clearly-still-in-progress show stands on the performance of Raúl Esparza as Mikhoels, and happily this is Green Violin's one unalloyed triumph. The actor is simply astonishing. From rubbery physical comedy to the ravages of Lear, there's nothing Esparza can't do -- and he brings to the music a haunting, cantorial tenor of tremendous range and power. (

Comedians (Gethin Price) - Samuel Beckett Theater 2003


Drama League Honoree


Raúl Esparza, as a ferociously bitter comic, gives one of the most flawless, indelibly etched performances I’ve ever seen. (New York Magazine)


In the role which earned a Tony for Jonathan Pryce 26 years ago, Raúl Esparza is an inspired choice. Edgy and convincingly disturbed, Esparza masters yet another acting assignment. (NY1)


Raúl Esparza stands out in the excellent cast. (New York Daily News)


Esparza's Gethin generates the same electricity sparked during his stint as the Emcee in Cabaret. (Curtain Up)


Dale and Esparza together create the kind of theatrical chemical reaction one hopes for in the theatre. Esparza, usually brilliant at his worst, maintains his high standards of excellence here, finding likable and even sympathetic qualities in Gethin, even as his exterior attitudes and prejudices render him immediately odious. (Talking Broadway)

Sondheim Celebration - Kennedy Center - Summer 2002


Sunday in the Park With George (George)

Merrily We Roll Along  (Charley


Helen Hayes Award Nomination - Outstanding Actor in a Musical

(Sunday in the Park with George), 2002


A number of individual scenes shine in director Christopher Ashley's production of Merrily - chief among them, a neuroses-fueled, tour-de-force solo by Raul Esparza that stops the show halfway through the first act... Esparza proves a master of comic timing and rapid-fire delivery as he fast-forwards through a crash course in songwriting, complete with rat-a-tat-tatting typewriter and piano keys and even a few harried phone calls. (The Baltimore Sun)


Esparsa [sic] is marvelous from finish to start and his rendition of the clever, funny and emotionally charged patter song 'Franklin Shepard, Inc.' is the acerbic high spot of the show just as the roof-top anthem 'Our Time' is the emotional peak. When is the last time you recall an ovation in the middle of a song? (Potomac Stages)


...the show plods along until Charley's magnificent meltdown during a TV interview, a spiraling character assassination called 'Franklin Shepard, Inc.' It's a tour-de-force number, and Raúl Esparza -- consistently charming and sensible as Charley -- has wicked fun with it. (Washington Post )


Co-stars of the Kennedy Center's Sunday in the Park with George, Raúl Esparza and Melissa Errico were standouts. The evening's first highlight was Esparza's performance of "Beautiful" with Linda Stephens. And Esparza was terrific recreating one of the festival's most acclaimed moments, "Franklin Shepard, Inc." from Merrily We Roll Along. (


Such sterling performers as Michael Cerveris, Rebecca Luker, Raúl  Esparza, Judy Kuhn, Randy Graff, Melissa Errico and Nastacia Diaz all had stirring moments, reminders of the power they had exhibited in Washington. Esparza's twitchy rendition of "Franklin Shepard Inc." from "Merrily" cut through the hall like a buzz saw. (Washington Post

Cabaret (The Emcee) - Studio 54   2001-2002


Raúl Esparza is an absolutely mesmerizing Emcee. He looks and sounds somewhat more robust than Alan Cumming, yet he is as serpentine and unforgettable a presence, with a voice that establishes him as a musical star as well as a star quality actor. (Curtain Up)


Mr. Esparza, who gave off charisma to spare in the recent productions of "The Rocky Horror Show" and "Tick, Tick...Boom," is just as magnetic here. (New York Times)


He effortlessly integrates the comic with the creepy, the silly with the sinister, and he has an inspired sense of gesture and vocal inflection...Fully living up to the hype, Esparza is a magnetic performer, and his work here is electric. (

tick, tick...BOOM! (Jon) - Jane Street Theater  2001


Obie Award - Outstanding Actor in a Musical, 2001
Drama Desk Nomination - Outstanding Actor in a Musical, 2001
Drama League Honoree


The revelation here is Raúl Esparza, whose performance as Jonathan is vivid and heartfelt and star-making. Esparza's energy is palpable and infectious, as if he were channeling Larson's; and the sensitivity of his acting is simply heart-stopping. (


Raúl Esparza is an inspired Jonathan with a wiry, edgy, frantic energy. This is an electrifying new star. (New York Post)


As Jon, Raúl Esparza gives one of the year's best performances. Esparza's powerful, gruff voice and boy-next-door charisma easily establish the actor as 'the next big thing.' (


The evening is carried by the magnetic Esparza, a superb singer and extremely winning performer who takes us with him throughout. (


Raúl Esparza’s Jon is likable and identifiable. He has a strong voice and an attractive penchant for underplaying. (


...wonderfully performed by Raúl Esparza, a warm, energetic, boyishly appealing actor. (The Record)

The splendid Raúl Esparza acts, sings, and agonizes as Jon with consummate nimbleness and charm. (New York Magazine)


Esparza is a marvel. (


Mr. Esparza balances comic hyper-intensity with a more probing sincerity. (New York Times)


Raúl Esparza is totally engaging. (Hollywood Reporter)


It's a spectacularly good performance, and should lead to good things in the future for this talented young actor. (

The Rocky Horror Show (Riff Raff) - Circle in the Square Theater   2000


Theatre World Award - Outstanding New York Debut, 2000


Raúl Esparza plays a slick Riff Raff, ripping dimensional barriers with his high notes in 'Over at the Frankenstein Place' and 'The Time Warp.' (Theater Mania)


Esparza is a darkly sinister Riff Raff. (Curtain Up)


Raúl Esparza as Riff-Raff probably has the biggest shoes to fill artistically. He is replacing the author and all, but does so with grace and agility. (Musical Stages Online)


Raúl Esparza, as the hunchback major domo, is terrific leading the show's best number, 'The Time Warp.' (New York Times)


As the Igor-like Riff Raff, Raúl Esparza is a standout. (NY1)


Raúl Esparza is a direct link to the take-no-prisoners monster-art movement of Chicago's early theater boom. (Newsday)

Evita (Che) - National Tour 1999


Raúl Esparza is the show's standout performer. Portraying young revolutionary Che Guevara, who serves as both the play's narrator and conscience, the Chicago-based actor adds a welcome jolt of rock 'n' roll virility to the role. (Chicago Sun Times)


Esparza connects immediately with 'Oh What A Circus' at the top of the show and scores again and again throughout the performance. (Digital City)


The highlight of the show is Raúl Esparza, who plays Che, the narrator and Eva's antagonist. (USC - The Daily Trojan)


Raúl Esparza, as Che, the show's narrator, flies about the stage with all the energy of a power plant. Esparza's voice is up to the extreme demands of the role. (


With plenty of sneering cynicism, Esparza's on-stage energy eclipses anything that comes near him all night. (Balto-Wash Theatre Page)

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