Video interview: Jonathan Aguirre makes a pitch for Friday’s Junior Company virtual cabaret

Update: Now that “Friday Night Live” went live, you can watch the archived version on YouTube below.

They grow up so fast.

Parents are usually the ones saying that, but fans of the Junior Company — that beloved troupe of young actors whose pre-shows are an institution at Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theater — have been known to express the sentiment as well.

It’s one of the first things I thought of when I sat down to interview Jonathan Aguirre, 16, who has been entertaining audiences at Roger Rocka’s and the 2nd Space Theatre for more than half a decade. Jonathan is one of the co-hosts (along with Tony Folmer) of “Friday Night Live,” a virtual cabaret that will be streamed on various platforms at 6 p.m. Friday, July 31. Performers include past and present members of the company. Headliner guests are Miranda Mae Mayo, a proud Junior Company alum and a series regular on NBC’s “Chicago Fire,” along with two of Miranda’s celebrity friends: Alex Kinsey, winner of the 2013 “X-Factor,” and R&B artist Apollo Mighty.

When it comes to Jonathan, it seems like just yesterday that he was doing the child-star thing in “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play.” He also starred as Ralphie in “A Christmas Story.” (Who can forget how he coveted that official Red Ryder carbine action, 200-shot, range model air rifle with a “compass in the stock and this thing that tells time”?) And he’s long been a hard-working presence in the Junior Company.


Now Jonathan is taller, his voice is deeper, and he’s thinking about becoming a chemical engineer or a lawyer. Plus he’s helping run the Junior Company cabaret, an annual event that is normally performed live, of course, but had to be reimagined this year as an online show.

We talked about this year’s show, but we also touched on other subjects, including: Has he ever gotten his tongue stuck on a frozen pole? And if he had to pick between getting in trouble with his dad for breaking curfew or with Dan Pessano for being late to rehearsal, which would it be?

Here’s my video interview with Jonathan:

Here’s the archived show:


I’m offering a very cool giveaway related to the event. Instead of giving away free tickets to the cabaret — which wouldn’t be very exciting because it’s a streamed event that is free anyway — the prize is a private, 15-minute Zoom session with me and none other than the wonderful Miranda Mayo. (Think of it like a virtual version of a backstage meet-and-greet.) For a chance to “meet” her, leave a comment on this post answering this question: What is one question or piece of advice you’d ask Miranda? Deadline to enter is 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 3.

I will pick one winner, and we’ll come up with a mutually agreeable time for our special Zoom session.

One more thing: At its cabaret fundraiser, the Junior Company Foundation usually rakes in some substantial bucks for scholarships, workshops and community outreach. This year it can use your help with donations. You can make a contribution online or by text:

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Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

Comments (1)

  • Jackie Ryle

    Delightful interview, Donald. Like you, I have loved watching Jonathan grow up, mature, and perfect his craft! I’m a big fan! What a joy to see him in this role. Thanks for the heads up! I’ll be there tonight!


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