WTAMU’s musical theatre genie: Nolan Quintanilla

Named after the baseball star Nolan Ryan, Nolan Quintanilla is a junior musical theatre major at West Texas A&M University. Coming from a Spanish-Mexican root, Quintanilla grew up in Amarillo and is a product of Canyon High School.

His interest in theatre originated from watching the West Texas A&M theatre students perform every now and then. Also, it was closer to his home and family. Coming from a very athletic family, Quintanilla is the only member who ventured into arts and entertainment. Notwithstanding, his family has been very supportive of his career in theatre, just seeing something different in the family.

“My dad is a personal trainer, so he is very athletically inclined and three of my other brothers are heavily involved in sports,” Quintanilla said.

With regards to combining academics and theatre, Quintanilla spreads out the options for taking web-based classes, sometimes while on set- a luxury thanks to COVID-19. To him, the best part of what he does is the interaction he gets to have with his colleagues and the feeling of the excitement he gets when he’s on stage performing with the other cast.

“I love that rehearsal process of theatre. I like learning, and hearing what a director or a choreographer has to say,” Quintanilla said. “I like hearing what the other people in my cast have to say. I like learning about that rhythm and movement that you get when you’re in a show and I’m just in love with that process.”

Quintanilla had his “Road to Damascus” experience with theatre just a few weeks ago, expressing how he felt about the one moment he realized theatre was what he’d do for the rest of his life. Making that decision was a paradigm shift from wanting to get a job in production, or being a teacher of theatre after graduation.

“It was about three weeks ago, I went on a trip to New York and I just saw my first Broadway show ever,” Quintanilla said. “I loved it and called my mom immediately walking down the street from Time Square, sobbing to my mom, and telling her this is what I have to do.”

For song genres, Quintanilla loves R&B and Hip-Hop. As far as show tunes go, the classics would be the number one choice for Quintanilla, “Funny Girl” to be precise. As words of encouragement, Quintanilla expressed support for all theatre lovers who want to live their dreams one way or the other.

Thanks to the involvement of WTAMU in community theatrical works since his developmental stages, Quintanilla attributed the success he has now to those opportunities created for those like him to experience it at a very tender age.

“There is a spot for everybody in the theatre world because it’s so inclusive. And made for everybody especially for this route that we are going,” Quintanilla said. “Never shy away. If you have any passion. Go for it. Do it, and the world is much bigger than Amarillo and Texas as well.”