Juliana Garcia-Malacara: It all starts with a theatre spark

Juliana Garcia-Malacara: It all starts with a theatre spark

RTG Spotlight

In 2011, Juliana Garcia-Malacara was in 5th grade when her grandma saw an ad in the paper about auditions for Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. When Juju’s mom, Stacey, brought her to try out, she let her know that it might not work out.

“My mom said to not be sad if I didn’t get a call to join the show and that we’d prepare better for next time. But I got a call from Doug inviting me to be an Oompa Loompa. The rest is HERstory.”

Juju returned the next year for Wonka again. Then came Beauty and the Beast (2013).

“During the rehearsal process, I broke my wrist due to sports. As a young kid, I thought Doug was going to kick me out of the show, but he said I could still be a part of it. I would just need to wrap my cast up in a skin-colored Ace bandage.”

She then joined the ensembles of Mary Poppins (2015 & 2016), Joseph… (2017), Sister Act (2018), Grease (2019), and played the Munchkin Mayor in The Wizard of Oz (2019).

Her family watched her grow-up on stage and also began getting involved.

“Once I started to participate at RTG, my cousins, Mariana and Paolo Wood, started to take classes and audition, joining me on stage for the Wizard of Oz and have also branched out on their own.

My brother, AJ, was three when he saw Beauty and the Beast and he told my mom that he wanted to be on stage and sing “Frosty the Snowman” for his audition. Fast forward 10 years later and he joined Akeelah and the Bee and The Little Mermaid.

My mom, stepdad Gary, tia Lala, uncle Tom, and grandma Nena have been involved backstage. It’s great to have the support!”

During the shutdown, Juju appeared in virtual offerings of Sincerely Yours, RTG (2020), Signature Spotlight: Home for the Holidays (2020), and The Laramie Project (2021). Since reopening, she had the chance to join Nunsense (2022) as Sister Mary Leo and the ensemble of Mamma Mia! (2022).

Juju has also worked backstage on many shows, wherever help was needed. Soon, she was assisting with class-to-stage productions, eventually helping direct 101 Dalmatians KIDS (2021), Jungle Book KIDS (2022), and Aristocats KIDS (2023).

While completing her associate degree from Gateway Technical College, she worked as RTG’s communications intern last summer. Juju now attends UW-Parkside and is double majoring in communications and theatre arts.

As an ensemble member for Rent, Juju is thrilled to be in a show that resonates with so many theatre lovers and beyond.

“I think that there’s so many people, especially young people, that can see themselves in these characters. The music is great and the stories can be relatable.

It’s exciting to me because I get to work with such a diverse great group of performers and we’re able to bring topics to the RTG stage that you don’t usually see here, such as queer love stories and the AIDS epidemic.”

In a story that celebrates not only love, but the realities of loss, Juju has had to figure out how to capture all of those emotions.

“Trying to find and portray different characters going through different ups and downs in life was a challenge, especially dealing with difficult situations.”

Yet, as with her entire time at RTG, she has grown throughout the rehearsal process and cannot wait for the show to open.

“Please come and see Rent! We worked really hard to capture this groundbreaking story and share it with everyone!”