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‘Kid, you’ll never be on Broadway’: Another ‘Rocky’ beating the odds!

Lapacazo Sandoval | 4/24/2014, 4:02 p.m.
Rocky

Luis Salgado is a hero to many people. It’s not a job or title that he aspired to wear, but the die is cast, and “hero” is an adjective that mildly describes the actor, dancer, producer, director and choreographer.

Salgado has returned to the stage and his boxing roots by playing “Kid Rizzo” and the cut man in the Broadway smash “Rocky,” the musical based on the Oscar-winning film starring and written by Sylvester Stallone.

Salgado, who is best known for his work in the Broadway musical “In the Heights,” was born in Puerto Rico. As a young man, he trained as an amateur boxer, preparing to follow his family legacy, which featured a number of boxers with varied degrees of recognition.

“At that time, I was training simultaneously as a dancer and a boxer,” remembered Salgado. “One day, while working as a backup dancer, I showed up to work with a black eye and was told to choose either dancing or boxing. I chose dancing, but I have never grown completely apart from the sport.”

At 21, he relocated to New York City and told his family that he was determined to follow his passions. On making that defining transition, Salgado said, “I was not always encouraged by teachers to follow my dreams of a life on stage. In fact, one teacher told me that I would fail. Then another teacher pulled me aside and said, ‘Papi, you can do anything that you’re passionate about.’ Today, I thank both of those men.”

As the critical praise rolls in for “Rocky,” there have been special nods to the spectacular third act, the fighting climax that summarizes the epic journey that made Rocky Balboa the poster child for downtrodden dreamers all over the world.

Performing as the only Puerto Rican actor in the Broadway production, Salgado plays the cut man in the finale, which gets audiences cheering and hardened men weeping in their seats.

“It’s such a good feeling to see stern-looking blue-collar men cry in their theater seats,” shared Salgado. “That’s the power of theater!”

Taking a page from “Rocky” on the subject of keeping dreams alive, Salgado is no stranger in that effort. Under his company, Salgado Productions, he remains busy as an educator, teaching master classes and professional development workshops all over the world.

This summer, R.Evolución Latina, an organization that he founded in 2008, will again support and empower the Hispanic community through the arts, providing six programs that train and give arts access to children, families and artists in New York and other cities around the world.

“Our work is rooted in the motto ‘Dare to Go Beyond,’” said Salgado, who is just months away from being a father for the first time. “I’m a dreamer.

Period. I love the quote by Marianne Williamson in which she asks us to ask ourselves: ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?’ My final advice to dreamers is to commit yourself fully to your dream and be stubborn. Be a stubborn dreamer. You’d be amazed how easily it leads to being happy.”

For more information on “Rocky,” visit www.rockybroadway.com. For information about Salgado, visit www.luissalgado.com or www.salgadoproductions.com.