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By Alexi Chacon
NYC Critic and Culture Writer
Louis Whitaker is making Puerto Vallarta’s performing arts scene his playground as he awes visitors and longtime residents alike. Where most people see Puerto Vallarta as a vacation spot to receive respite from their day-to-day life, Whitaker saw more. He saw a place where he could build a life of his own as a performer, an advocate, and as a gay man.
Whitaker’s story is anything but typical. He was born in Kansas and raised in rural Missouri by strict religious parents. After coming out at 17 years old he was kicked out of his home. He started to grow a chosen family from the queer theatre community. This would not be the first time that Whitaker was handed lemons that he so effortlessly turned into lemonade. He immediately applied to the BFA program at Missouri State University and was accepted into the prestigious program. This education laid the groundwork for his performing career here in PV.
Whitaker received another lemon and graduated into the pandemic. He desperately wanted to use the skills he had developed. He wanted to be on the stage even in an industry that was currently paralyzed by the pandemic. Whitaker took a trip to PV after getting vaccinated hoping to clear his head and figure out next steps. What he saw surprised him – performers on stage actually practicing the craft they love, bringing joy to audiences during a pandemic.
It was settled, Whitaker would continue his performing career in PV. A place that started as a vacation destination turned into his new home. He soon got contracted by Act2PV, the largest live theatre venue in the city. After less than a year living in the city, he is performing all across the bay and is now headlining his own solo cabaret show Broadway Backwards with Broadway Pianist Brett Rowe at Act2PV.
I was given the chance to see him perform on his fall and was blown away. The show is deeply personal as Whitaker takes you on his journey to PV through popular Broadway showtunes. Each showtune sung by him has been traditionally performed by a woman on Broadway. This gender bending performance is absolutely not one to miss. His show has already turned the ear of a few Broadway producers and he is already in talks to move to NYC. It’s clear that Whitaker is bringing Broadway to PV. If you are in PV you should not pass up the opportunity to see someone who is sure to be on Broadway soon.
Whitaker has made himself a mainstay of the PV performing scene, popping up in some of the city’s most iconic venues. He started a Bottomless Brunch at La Cappella, a beautiful restaurant that overlooks Banderas Bay. Since he started, Whitaker has regularly sold out his performances. This is truly the best way to satiate your need for more of Whitaker’s crooning after your previous evening at Broadway Backwards.
What is most impressive is his ability to bring audiences to all of his performances through his keen ability to befriend everyone. To go out with drinks with Whitaker means to accept being stopped at every passing table for a warm hello and a quick catch up. And if there is a table that didn’t stop him, well he’ll make sure to introduce himself to the table and pick up a few friends in the process.
Whether you are here in PV for a few days or a couple of weeks, make sure to get to know Louis Whitaker and catch one of his shows. I promise it will feel like you are hitching a ride on a shooting star.