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May 2007

Go, Richie, go!

If you have a young child, it's entirely likely you can hum the theme song to "Go, Diego, Go!" and shout "Click! Take a Pic!" at an appropriate moment.

If you can, get ready Diego is coming to Charlotte and he's one of our own.

Richie Portela '01 dressed as the cartoon character Diego


Richie Portela '01 has been touring the country as Diego in "Go, Diego, Go LIVE! The Great Jaguar Rescue" since early February. On Saturday, June 16, the show will come to the Blumenthal Center in Charlotte. UNCG alumni and friends are invited to a pre-show reception at 10 a.m. where kids can meet Richie and have their pictures made with him before the 11 a.m. performance.

Diego is the most recent in a long line of fun roles for Richie, who feels he has been blessed to have worked steadily as an actor.

"I'm doing what I love to do," he said.

Those who were around during Richie's UNCG years may recognize him from his roles in "Into the Woods" (Jack) or "The Rocky Horror Show" (Brad Majors). While studying at UNCG, Richie also worked for the Broach Theatre, performing in "Whoop Dee Doo" and "When Pigs Fly."

After graduating, Richie moved to New York and began working right away, performing two shows at the Gallery Players: "The Student Prince" and "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." He then went on tour with Theatreworks, USA in shows like "Ferdinand the Bull" and "Corduroy." After returning from those tours, Richie left New York again to originate the role of Diego in "Dora The Explorer: Dora's Pirate Adventure."

If it sounds like Richie has been on the road quite a bit, well, he has two and half years to be exact.

"It gets a little daunting living out of a suitcase, but it's fun. Being paid to tour the country is fantastic."

Plus, performing for children has its own charm.

"I love it. I love it. A lot of actors would look down on this, but I enjoy it immensely. Children are so willing to buy into this world we're creating for them."

Being Diego is particularly fun because children already know and love him and consider him a friend.

"It's like being their action hero. You get an indescribable rush from the audience at every show."

And its not only fun for the kids. "The music is the most exciting part," Richie said. "It's like coming to a Latin pop concert. You see the adults jamming in their seats."

Tickets are available for group seating through May 14. To purchase, log on to www.blumenthalcenter.org/groups. Use "UNCG" as the login and password. Tickets are $28.

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