100 Colorado Creatives: Jose Mercado

#8: Jose Mercado

A Greeley native who left for schooling and a chance at the limelight in L.A., Jose Mercado returned to the state after garnering praise and awards on the stage in California. He took a job teaching theater at North High School in Denver, and his future path was set: Mercado went on to famously stage a production of the Latino classic, Zoot Suit, that lifted barrio kids up off the street and eventually even hit the big time with a performance at the Buell Theatre. He's since gone on to teach at the University of Colorado at Denver, and when he's not doing that, he's spearheaded many side-projects on the side over the years: the youth arts program Labyrinth at PlatteForum, an ongoing campaign to refurbish the Historic Elitch Gardens Theatre for community use, and a private evening theater academy for adults, among other things. He's also lent a hand in bringing some of his Hollywood friends to Denver for performances, lectures and fundraisers, including Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman and Wendell Pierce.

Now, he's kicking off a new touring show, Dreaming Sin Fronteras, right back on the familiar North High stage in March. Mercado's a guy who makes things happens; read his 100CC questionnaire to find out what inspires him to keep going, no matter what.

See also: 100 Colorado Creatives: donnie l. betts

If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?

At this point in my life it would be Salvador Dali. His irreverent, bold and unconventional style would make an ideal collaborator. I would love to direct a play that he'd design. I love working with designers who are talented and bring their own ideas to the table. I have someone like that now with Alan Trumpler. As a director, I don't always know what I want, but I know what I don't want. And to surround myself with talented people I can trust makes me look good...or makes it look like I know what I'm doing.

Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?

Pope Francis. I was an altar boy for years and went to catholic school. Back then I thought I'd become a priest. I never thought I'd see the day where a Latino would become pope, let alone one who was a bouncer before he became a priest. He's shaking up the Vatican. Can't wait for him to cause more trembles.

What's one art trend you want to see die this year?

Selfies. Duckfaces. Duckface Selfies.

What's your day job?

Teaching. I've been doing it for the last ten years. If you would have told me ten years ago I'd still be doing it I would have said you were fucking nuts. I've been a professor at the University of Colorado Denver for the last six years. I'm excited about my burgeoning private acting studio.  

Continue reading for more from Jose Mercado.

Location Info


North High School

2960 N. Speer Blvd., Denver, CO

Category: General

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