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Javier Muñoz on getting to the Arctic, packing nice clothes, and his deep love of Puerto Rico

We caught up with the actor, who will star in ‘Wild: A Musical Becoming,’ at the American Repertory Theatre Dec. 5-Jan. 2, to talk about all things travel.

Javier Muñoz and Lin-Manuel Miranda appeared at the launch of CODE (RED) to Fight COVID on Oct. 13 in New York City.Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for (RED)

To say that Javier Muñoz has played some exciting roles on Broadway would be an understatement. The Brooklyn native starred in “In the Heights” and “Hamilton,” playing the alternate to the lead, Lin Manuel Miranda’s Alexander Hamilton, in the latter. When Miranda left the iconic musical in July 2016, Munoz took over as the lead and stayed in that role until January 2018. And while Muñoz, 45, has wonderful memories about his time playing Hamilton — and Usnavi de la Vega in “In the Heights” — these days he is squarely focused on “Wild: A Musical Becoming,” at the American Repertory Theatre Dec. 5-Jan. 2. With a creative team that includes playwright V (formerly Eve Ensler), and director Diane Paulus, and a cast that features Idina Menzel, “Wild” is, Muñoz said, a “beautiful, magical, and vital show,” with a story about the planet and the environment “that needs to be told.” He plays a conservative single dad who is stuck in his ways. “He’s a very challenging character, and I have to commit to ideas and things that are, very much at my core, the opposite of who I am,” Muñoz said. “It’s really an eye-opening exploration for me.” Muñoz said that he is enjoying familiarizing himself with Cambridge and Boston and can’t wait to perform for audiences here — especially after a long lockdown because of COVID restrictions. “It’s absolutely going to get your heart,” he said of “Wild.” We caught up with Muñoz, who lives in New York City, to talk about all things travel.

Favorite vacation destination?


Puerto Rico. This is where I am closest to my roots, my history, my heritage. When I’m there, everything – my mind, my heart — finds its rhythm and feels grounded. In New York City, I generally need to have some semblance of defenses up for one reason or another. In Puerto Rico, I am always at ease.

Favorite food or drink while vacationing?


Depends on where I have traveled, but in general I love allowing for more freshly baked breads — which I do not partake of much at home during normal life. Carbs are the best, but especially when on vacation!

Where would you like to travel to but haven’t?

The Arctic. I love extreme cold weather, and I find the wildlife there beautiful and fascinating. I would also love to see the night sky from there as well.

One item you can’t leave home without when traveling?

When I travel, I always need something that reminds me of my actual home, so something that triggers my senses like a favorite candle or a pair of slippers will trigger my sense of smell or touch and no matter where I am, that little bit of familiarity puts me at ease.

Aisle or window?

Window. I write a lot when I fly and the window seat inspires my imagination.

Favorite childhood travel memory?

A camping trip with my class in fifth grade. The first night there, I was walking back to our campsite and there was no moon. This was the first time in my life I saw a sky full of stars. Being a city kid, I’d never seen the sky so full of stars before.

Guilty pleasure when traveling?

Shopping. I have such urges to buy everything I see that I like. It’s a problem.


Best travel tip?

Always bring one dressy outfit. You have no idea what special event might pop up – a dinner, a night out ... so be prepared.