Who is the older sibling? “That’s funny,” explains 32-year-old Mathew deGuzman. “I’m definitely the older sibling. I’m a good nine years older, but when we had our first day of rehearsal, everyone goes around and says their name, and they had us in alphabetical order, so Lissa and I were sitting next to each other. At first the cast was like, ‘Are they married?,’ and we were like, ‘No. No.’ Once they realized we were siblings, a few days went by, and they were like, ‘That’s so great that you’re twins and you’re doing a show together.’ I, of course, loved that.”
“I was quick to say, ‘We’re not twins!’” adds 23-year-old Lissa deGuzman.
Although they started the rehearsal process for the national tour of Aladdin together, the deGuzman siblings were cast in the production one month apart. Mathew got the call in early September, after completing the first national tour of Pippin and coming back to New York to audition. Lissa was seen by video, since she was in Connecticut performing Goodspeed’s Broadway-bound Judy Garland musical Chasing Rainbows, so she didn’t get the job until October.
It’s their first time working together and they’re both swings. Lissa covers seven female ensemble tracks and understudies Princess Jasmine, while Mathew covers 11 male tracks, covering Razoul and Prince Abdullah. (There’s no chance they’d ever play opposite each other as Aladdin and Jasmine.)
They are two of five siblings, and the only performers of the bunch. Mathew is the oldest, and Lissa is the second youngest. Though they also studied at the same college, Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, it was Mathew who always knew he wanted to pursue a career as a performer.
“I was the opposite, actually,” Lissa explains. “I took dance when I was little, and it wasn’t a big deal, but I was mainly [into] sports. I played soccer and basketball, [but] since [Mathew] is nine years older than me, we always went to his shows, so I was surrounded by it.”
On tour, they do everything together—live together, meal-prep together, run scenes together. They’re most excited to explore the U.S. as a duo. “I played most of these cities on Pippin,” says Mathew, “so I’m really excited to go back and show Lissa all the awesome places I discovered.”
The only thing they haven’t done—yet—is share the stage, since they’re both swings. Lissa was the first of the two to perform, on the night of the tour’s first preview on April 11 in Chicago, after an actor in the ensemble twisted her ankle.
“It was crazy,” Lissa recalls. “Honestly, it happened so fast. I feel like I don’t remember any of it. I feel like I blacked out through it all just because… It’s happening so fast, and you’re moving onto the next thing, you don’t have time to think about what just happened. It’s just grab and go. I guess it’s a good thing that I blacked out because I feel like I would remember if I tripped someone.”
“She was so good,” Mathew assures, who guaranteed family support in the audience that night. “I was the proudest big brother ever. Obviously, every time a swing goes on, it’s unexpected, but she was so calm and did so well. I went into the audience to watch, of course, and I felt like a parent. I was so proud and [thought], ‘Yes, that’s my sister. Go, Team Swing!’ It was just really cool to watch your sister go nail a track that she’s never been on for in previews. There were honestly no words for the feeling.”
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