Riveting Riffs Logo One Carmen Prados - Spain's Triple Threat
Carmen Prados Interview Photo One

When you are the understudy for the principal role in a theatrical production it can be challenging both mentally and physically. Couple that with a major musical such as Pretty Woman el Musical when you are providing cover for Vivian (lead actress Cristina Llorente), plus you sing and dance nightly in the ensemble and wait for it plus you are Scarlett, just thinking about all of that is enough to make someone want to lay down and have a nap.

Actress Carmen Prados originally from Córdoba, Andalusia Spain and who has also called London, Paris, Barcelona and Madrid home, is that very person and she was gracious enough to take time from a busy schedule that often sees her performing twice per day and at least once per week in the sometimes salty, but mostly endearing role of Vivian. 

How does she do it? Carmen Prados explains, “I have done two shows as Scarlett and two as Vivian, one as Vivian and one as Scarlett. I have done all the possibilities. It is challenging, but I really love it. Two shows of Scarlett are tougher on the body and two shows of Vivian are tougher on the voice. Doing both, I love it because it is super challenging, and you have to be really focused.

It is really hard and for me it is crucial to take naps, because I wake up early in the mornings. I am a Spanish person and I take my siesta very seriously, so that is my solution to being tired. Getting ready for the show I warm up my voice and body, like an athlete and this is my instrument.”

Carmen Prados Interview Photo TwoRiveting Riffs Magazine would like to tell you that we went to Pretty Woman el Musical specifically to watch Carmen Prados perform, but that would be less than truthful. We had fallen in love with this cast and the production, and to be honest we went to see one of the principals Rubén Yuste perform, as we had interviewed him earlier in the year. As fate would have it, neither Cristina Llorente, nor Ruben Yuste were performing that night.  It did not take long before we were captivated by the Vivian before us, Carmen Prados. Who is this young woman, who brings amazing energy, a natural knack for humor and a beautiful singing voice to this character? By the intermission, this writer said under my breath, I want to interview her.

Carmen Prados tells us about her journey, “I was born and raised in Córdoba in the south of Spain. It is in a region called Andalusia. Córdoba is very beautiful. I came from a family with three siblings, my older sister, my younger brother and me. Then we have 12 cousins on each side (of the family). As a family we were very close and every Saturday we had lunch at my grandma and grandad’s house on my mom’s side and every now and then on my dad’s side. I was always surrounded by my family, and I love them.

My mom is a ballet teacher, and my dad loves music, singing and he used to play saxophone. It was more of a hobby than anything else. My grandma’s sister used to be an opera singer, but I wasn’t really close to her, as my grandma had eight sisters. When she passed, I was a bit regretful that I didn’t get all of the knowledge from her. She was really excited for me to be a singer as well, but it is what it is. 

I did ballet for my whole life, but I didn’t see it as an option for a career. I loved it and it was my passion, but I didn’t think of it as anything more than that.

In Córdoba there were no options. For example, there were no singing teachers. If you wanted to do a singing class, it had to be opera. As a teenager, I was not interested in singing opera. If you think about it, as a teenager I wanted to sing Taylor Swift. There were no options. Even the thought of it was not allowed.

Even when I decided to go to drama school, everyone around me said, but that’s not a degree. You have to do a degree in something else. You can do that as a hobby.  It was a small minded and traditional, but I love Córdoba, but for some things like this you have to get out of there. That’s the reason why I left, but I did my drama degree over there and it was amazing. I fell in love with drama.”

Continuing, she recalls, “I was in love with musicals.  I was absolutely in love with musicals. I would watch the Tony Awards from YouTube and I would cry my eyes out.  I had to be in Córdoba for one more year to finish my ballet degree, otherwise I wouldn’t get it. Over there we had two options for drama. We had acting, as in pure theater or there was the technical part of it like scenery.

My mom said if you want to do musicals you have to learn how to act. The building for ballet and the one for drama was the same one. Drama was in the morning and ballet was in the evening. I always saw the drama people staying for rehearsals in the afternoons and I thought they looked crazy. I am not like them. How am I going to go into drama school?  I am not like them. I was so silly and small. I was seventeen, but my mom said I had to learn how to act, so I went into drama, thinking in the second year I would go to Malaga or Madrid to do a music specialty, but I absolutely fell in love with drama. I was head over heels. I don’t know why. It felt like it opened my mind in so many ways. I learned a lot.”

It was in Córdoba, at an early age that Carmen Prados first appeared on stage.

“Apparently when I was two years old one of the kids from my mom’s ballet school got sick the very same day of the performance and my mom decided to put her (the other child) costume on me, and I just did it. (She says laughing) I was the biggest star of the performance, because I was just careless. That was my first time on stage. Then when I was five or six my grandma from my dad’s side was doing some kind of performance with her and I stole the mic from her and sang a whole song.

Professionally I did the Annie musical when I was nine. They came to Córdoba and auditioned kids, because they couldn’t tour with the kids. They had auditions in every city they went to.  I got the mean girl,” she says.

The poise with which Carmen Prados carries herself, as she speaks in perfect English, with a Brtish accent and very seldom her native Spanish accent can be disarming at times. It is very easy to imagine her appearing in international productions and even wondering if being in front of the camera interests her, something we neglected to ask.

Her English-speaking skills were refined in London, England where, “I did my musical theater master’s, and it was more about Jazz. I think it suits me best. Even though I have the technique, I don’t know, the moves of a ballet dancer, I have never felt I could do ballet professionally, because of certain aspects of my body. Even the discipline, I wasn’t sure that is what I wanted to do.  Honestly, I never felt I was a strong dancer. I am a good enough dancer to be in an ensemble, but I would never go on a ballet audition. When I did Jazz in London, I felt that was more my thing.  I would say having ballet as a base is the best thing you can have, because it will give you the technique for everything, so I am happy I did it that way,” she says.

In part learning to adapt to living in London, is something that Carmen Prados draws upon, when in her role as Vivian. She explains, “When I moved to London from Córdoba it was such a big change. I was wow I love this, but where do I belong?  Am I a small-town girl or am I a big city girl? That feeling of not belonging but wanting more is similar to Vivian’s situation.” 

Carmen takes us behind the scenes and walk us through the life of an understudy. 

“Being an understudy means you have to know the role of a certain person and be ready for it if anything happens to her. I have been lucky enough to have been an understudy twice now for the lead role (the other time was a major production of Fame). It is both exciting and frustrating at the same time, because you think, I could be doing this every single day. At the same time, it is challenging to do it once and keep it alive. It is also nice to have different things to do.  I need to learn her whole role and be ready for any emergency or situation. In my case, with Pretty Woman she is free every Sunday, so I do (Vivian) every Sunday. If (Cristina) gets sick, then I go in. I might be ready as Scarlett, but then I am told I am going in as Vivian and I have ten minutes to get ready. 

I am going to tell you a fun story how I opened my Vivian. It is the highlight of my career. You know Vivian never leaves the stage and she has to get changed in like a minute. 

In the rehearsal process they focus on the whole ensemble. Everyone has their own track. It was one week after the opening, and I had only done one week of rehearsals and (that being) only the first act. I get a call from the company manager saying Cristina has no voice and she is in the hospital. Do you feel ready? Because I am such a freak and I had studied so much, I said I’m ready.

The director called me, and he said you are crazy. How do you think you are ready? This is so irresponsible. We can’t do this today. I said trust me, I’m ready. Carmen Prados Interview Photo Three

I remember, we went to the theater at 1 pm and the show was at 8 pm. I did a full rehearsal for the second act. I finished rehearsing at quarter to eight and at eight I opened the show as Vivian, I did a whole week. It was epic and I am so proud of it.  It was amazing and really cool. That was in Barcelona a year and a bit ago,” she says.

As for staying in the moment Carmen Prados explains, “I try to be as true as possible and maybe it is because I don’t do it every day and I am not automatic.  Every day is a new day. If today I feel tired, then Vivian will be more tired than the last time. If today I am happy that will influence (my acting). I try to live it, as though it is my first time.  I only (am) Vivian once a week, so for me every time is the first time.  I try to live it as Carmen would. I try to play Vivian as close to Carmen as I can.  Obviously, I wouldn’t say some of the things she says. I wouldn’t act the way she does or be what she is, but I try to make it as close to myself, to be able to be true.  To be present.”

The conversation takes a turn to talk about the dance element of Carmen Prados’ career. 

“Well, that depends on the choreographer of course. For example, I did Fame the musical, before I did Pretty Woman, and she was a very famous choreographer here in Spain. She was also very old school, so she would do Broadway Jazz. No matter what your strength was we all did the same choreography. It was a very strong dancing show. There were a few moments when she would ask us to be ourselves, but it was mostly her choreography. 

Pretty Woman has less dancing and more acting and it is focused on the leads.  The dancing ensemble is a plus.  What I like about Pretty Woman is that it is a very individual show, so the choreographer is very open to what we bring to the house. I want to see you. You are special. You are a miracle. He is very motivational when he speaks. I don’t want to see a dancer. I want to see Carmen or your character dancing.

It depends on how the show is focused and how the choreographer has worked his or her whole life.

I have never felt I am a super strong dancer and having the opportunity to do, what I do best makes me happy.”

Despite her opinions about her own dancing in August of 2021 Carmen Prados was cast in the physically demanding musical Fame, as the understudy for the lead role, as well as one other.  Carmen was also in the ensemble.

She says, “It was the musical that opened doors for me.   It was my very first musical in Spain. It is difficult to start in the business and the first opportunity you never forget.

The show was really, really, really physical. It was challenging for me, because I had to do five tracks and I got to do the lead role so many times. I felt very lucky. It was an amazing experience, although a very hard one as well.  I did it and it opened doors for me! For that I am super grateful.”

Fame was presented for five months in Barcelona, before moving to Madrid for an additional five months.

We wondered if being a triple threat presents more opportunities for Carmen Prados.

“Being a triple threat has its ups and downs.  It will open more doors, because directors and producers always like to have people in the ensemble who can cover the leading role. For example, they would not look at me as a lead girl, because they know I can dance, so they would rather have me in the ensemble, rather than having me as the lead. Sometimes it goes against you, but still, I think it opens more doors than it closes.

I have been the understudy for the leading girl twice now and I would like to be seen as the leading girl, and not only the understudy.  I am going to be patient. I wonder if they had not seen me dance if they would have seen me (for other roles) …

Every time that you are in the spotlight, and someone comes to see you that gives you an opportunity.  Being seen in Pretty Woman as Vivian or in Fame, as Carmen there could always be someone in the audience who will give you the opportunity. It is amazing. Not everyone has the opportunity. I am aware of it, and I am grateful for it.  It is a long-term career, and you have to be patient. If you are impatient, you are not going to succeed,” she says.

 There is a side of Carmen Prados that audiences do not get to see but should be appreciated.

She has been involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which helps the wishes of children from toddler age to eighteen come true. Carmen Prados first became involved with the foundation in 2015, while working for Disney Parks and when she moved back to Spain, she reached out to Make-A-Wish again.

“I started working with them when I was in Barcelona when I was in Fame. When I came back for Pretty Woman, I contacted them, and I said we need to do things together. I said we have to organize something for Pretty Woman, and we did it.

It was amazing. It was perfect and it was beautiful. The whole cast engaged really, really well.  Since it was me organizing it, they let me be Vivian. Normally, for every promo or event like this it is the lead, Cristina, but they let me be Vivian. We had a child per character. Roger had a kid; I had another kid… We kept in contact for a month before we met and then we practiced the choreography together.

They came with us through the whole process of warming up, getting ready, they saw the backstage and saw every single dressing room. It was special and beautiful. We dedicated the show to them. They felt really involved in the show.  They felt like they were in the show with us.  Until this day, I am in contact with (Julia), which was my girl and her mom and her brother. They came to see me in Madrid last week.  It was fantastic. She is on treatment, but she is doing better,” she says.

Now you know a little bit more about a tremendously talented singer, songwriter and dancer, whose thoughtfulness, hard work and gratitude inform who she is as an artist. Carmen Prados’ star shines brightly and it is going to continue to rise.   Return to Our Front Page

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This interview by Joe Montague  published November 29th, 2023 is protected by copyright © and is the property of Riveting Riffs Magazine All Rights Reserved.  All photos and artwork are the the property of  Carmen Prados unless otherwise noted and all  are protected by copyright © All Rights Reserved. This interview may not be reproduced in print or on the internet or through any other means without the written permission of Riveting Riffs Magazine.