After interviewing so many talented stage performers, Broadway Wiz is shining a spotlight on creators and innovators. They may not have their name in a playbill, but all of these people have found ways to share their love for Broadway through their artistry.
This week we are featuring Paul Aguirre, creator of Broadway Dolls & Guys which are personalized, one-of-a-kind crocheted dolls in the likeness of Broadway show characters. He also custom creates dolls commemorating special occasions (weddings, prize winning events). Each doll is approximately 13-16” tall and captures as much detail as possible in the amigurumi art pieces.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I am a New York native, born in Manhattan and raised in Rockland/Westchester just outside of the city. When I was in High School I started doing theatre and fell in love. Between school and multiple community theaters in the area, I would be involved with up to 15 productions a year. I was fortunate enough to have a very supportive mom who encouraged me to pursue theatre as a career, which led me to my first paying acting job; the national tour of The Who’s Tommy in 1996. Since then I have performed on several other national and international tours and regional theatres throughout the country. In 2001 I was doing a show in Virginia and our wardrobe supervisor, Marrietta Green, was crocheting what seemed to be a boa scarf. I thought it would be a great gift for my mom so I asked her if she could teach me how to crochet. I learned more techniques while on tour with My Fair Lady in 2002. I started making the boas, as well as stuffed animals and hats for gifts and even participated in Actor Crafts in 2005. Even though I would take breaks, I have been crocheting ever since.
Where did the idea for Broadway Dolls & Guys come from and how did you get the business started?
In 2016 I was doing an amazing production of Bye Bye Birdie at Goodspeed Musicals in Connecticut, and as one of the parents of Sweet Apple I had down time in the dressing room. I found a pattern on Etsy from @CraftyIsCool for an Alexander Hamilton doll to make during tech rehearsals. I loved the result, so I tried making Jefferson and Washington, then expanded to the Schuyler Sisters. After I got a hang of the patterns, I posted the work on social media. People started to ask about the dolls and how they could get one. One person in particular (Joey Katrinic) asked if I could make a doll for Cynthia Erivo to give to her as a birthday/closing gift for her brilliant work in The Color Purple. After seeing her reaction and peoples’ continued interest in the dolls, I decided to make it an official business, since it was something I could do in my free time and while working on a show.
What is your design process like and how do decide what to crochet?
The first step is research – I try to find as many photos of the subject from as many angles as possible. I break down the basic parts of the outfits (shirt, pants/dress, shoes, etc.) which all get crocheted, as well as any of the other details like hair. Then I look at the little details and try to really replicate what materials are used. For example, with Antoine L. Smith as Curly (Oklahoma