Interview: Kevin Del Aguila on the Intertwining Path of Broadway Star and Children’s Entertainer

The Some Like It Hot star and Dog Man musical scribe discusses his equally prosperous career writing children’s TV and theater.

Kevin Del Aguila is one of our great character actors. He decried rich people in Love’s Labour’s Lost: the Musical at Shakespeare in the Park; proclaimed the joys of hygge-ness in Frozen; and is now dancing with gusto as the smitten Osgood in Some Like It Hot at the Shubert Theatre.

At the same time that he’s stealing scenes, he’s writing them. In addition to his Broadway career, Del Aguila has an equally prosperous job writing musicals and TV shows for young audiences. His stage shows include Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Madagascar; his TV gigs range from Blue’s Clues and You to Peg Plus Cat, for which he received a handful of Emmys.

TheaterWorksUSA is currently reviving his and Brad Alexander’s stage adaptation of Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man. This musical, which premiered at the Lucille Lortel Theatre in 2019, is now on stage at New World Stages.

It’s not every day that you can see the two sides of Kevin Del Aguilas just a few blocks apart, and he can’t believe it either.


This conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.

How’s it going over at the Shubert? I imagine you all have found your rhythm with the show at this point.
Some Like It Hot is still fun; the fun hasn’t worn off yet. I feel like I’m the luckiest guy in New York. The company is so kind and happy, everybody’s having a great time, the material is so much fun…It’s hard not to have fun when people are tap dancing. We’ve got an amazing orchestra pounding out that incredible score. Every day, I show up and I’m like “I can’t believe they’re allowing us to do this. This is great!”

What’s it like to be the resident scene-stealer in a cavalcade of scene-stealers?
I look around and I’m like “Everybody’s so perfectly cast here.” For the longest time, I would show up to rehearsals thinking that I was the weakest link and that I had to step my game up, because everybody’s running on all cylinders. I would constantly live in fear of letting these people down. But Casey Nicholaw has a real talent for bringing together people who love to have fun and love to work, and he can just pick out that thing that you’re really good at and put it on stage at the right moment so it really pops. I feel like he’s done that with my whole charater. Every time I come on stage, it’s like Casey saw me do that weird thing I do and he placed it right here like a lovely little diamond for a paying audience to enjoy.

And just as your character has a double identity, you have one in real life, too, as an Emmy-winning writer of youth theater productions and children’s television shows. How did you come to that facet of your career?
It kind of naturally unfolded. I came to New York to be an actor, and I would write little one-acts or scenes on the side with my actor friends, and we would self-produce things. Little by little, people I had met said “Oh, you can write, too!” I was a young character actor in New York and no one needed young character actors. People would say to me “You can have a great career in 20 years,” and I’m like “Well, what am I supposed to do for 20 years?”

It turned out, the answer was a) getting a writing career going, and b) children’s theater is always looking for young character actors to play animals, aliens, whatever they need at the time. TheaterWorks USA was one of the first companies in the city to hire me as an actor; they were workshopping a production of Around the World in 80 Days, and I basically played everyone they meet going around the world. So I worked for them, and TheaterWorks really became a training ground for me as far as writing lyrics, writing musicals, directing, and acting.

They hooked me up Billy Aronson, who’s a playwright — you may know him as having come up with the original concept for Rent — and he also worked in a lot of children’s theater and television. We got hooked up to write an adaptation of Click, Clack, Moo, and he was like “You’re really facile with this stuff. You should come write children’s television.” And I was like “Well, if you hear of anything, let me know.” He threw my name around and I started writing little episodes of things, and I learned very quickly that if you have even the slightest ability in the sphere of children’s television, your name gets thrown around like wildfire.

When Billy got his own show, Peg Plus Cat — about a little girl and her cat who have to solve word problems — he called me. I wrote on that for two seasons, we won a bunch of Emmys, and suddenly I’m at the Emmys winning for children’s television. It was a very twisty way in.

I’m very thankful to be in that space. When the pandemic hit, I was in Frozen, and that stopped, but I was also the head writer of Blue’s Clues and You, and they were like “People need content NOW! Keep writing from home!” So that was a lifesaver. But I’ve had this wildly schizophrenic version of these careers intertwining throughout the years. I almost wasn’t able to do Some Like It Hot because I was developing a Netflix animated show and I couldn’t do both. I had many sleepless nights trying to figure out how to do it, and then the Netflix thing went up in smoke and I didn’t have to worry about it at all. [Laughs]

What is it like to revisit Dog Man for this production at New World Stages?
The crazy thing is that we did this back in 2019 at the Lortel, so my work is done. It’s almost like it’s a revival. It’s mostly the same cast as it was before; five out of the six actors have come back to do the show again, and they were so terrific the first time around. They’ve got a real handle on the sensibility, the feel, the pace, and they’re really talented. The new additions to the team are fantastic, as well. New World Stages has been a stomping ground for a lot of things that I’ve done, like Altar Boyz. I’m excited to go back and look around.

What’s the key to being able to adapt something like Dog Man or Wimpy Kid or Madagascar, if you can distill it?
I think it all comes down to sensibility. You have to pick up on the feel of the original material. You’re taking somebody’s baby and putting it in your hands, so you have to show the original authors that you understand their jokes and style, and that the experience that you get reading or watching the original piece is going to come through. If you can show the authors you’re extending their brand in a respectful way, they’re very appreciative of it.

Although, Dav Pilkey was the rare exception in this. I got on the phone with him and had a whole pitch ready about taking care of Dog Man, and he stopped me and was like “I’d rather you just do what you want to do and I’ll come and enjoy it.” Okay, great. You know, spoken like someone who has never been burned by Hollywood or anything like that. He came to a workshop and laughed in all the right places and he’s been a huge fan of the show ever since. He’s been one of our biggest supporters and he befriended the cast. It’s the ultimate compliment.