Jesse J. Sanchez, a pioneer of new Latinx works in musical theater and plays with music, is a nationally recognized composer, playwright, music director, and Grammy Nominated educator (2014). He has composed, written, music directed, taught, and performed in theater, film, and music ensembles. Jesse is in residence as the Producing Music Supervisor at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, a Tony Award-winning organization that stands as one of the preeminent destinations for American regional theatre.
As a composer, Jesse's works range from original songs, underscore instrumentals, dance arrangements, musical theater, and choral arrangements. He is well versed in a variety of styles including musical theater, salsa, cumbia, hip hop, classical, rock, r&b, jazz, and various world music genres. Jesse's compositions, orchestrations, arrangements and vocal arrangements have been performed across the U.S, including the The 24 Hour Plays: Viral Monologues, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, FOGG Theatre of San Francisco, Arizona Theatre Company, Huntington Theatre Company, Hartford Stage, Alley Theatre, Arizona State University, West Valley College, Cuesta College Jazz Festival, and the Idaho Music Educator’s Conference.
As a playwright, Jesse's plays and musicals have been performed or developed at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Black Swan Lab), New York Theatre Barn, Arizona Theatre Company (New Works Series), The 24 Hour Plays: Viral Monologues, The Green Room 42 (New Works Series), Arizona State University, and The New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts (New Works Showcase). Jesse has been a semi-finalist for the O'Neill National Music Theater Conference (2019, 2020), National Alliance for Musical Theatre (2020), and Bay Area Playwrights Festival (2019).
He has music directed and music supervised in professional theaters across the country including Roundabout Theatre Company, Hartford Stage, The Alley Theatre, Huntington Theater Company, Arizona Theatre Company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, American Conservatory Theater, Theatreworks Silicon Valley, Seacoast Repertory Theater, Bay Area Playwrights Foundation and many more. His work with collegiate programs includes New York University (Tisch), Syracuse University (Soyars Lecture Series), San Diego State University, Santa Clara University, Las Positas College, San Jose State University, San Francisco State University, and St. Mary's College. Early in his career, Jesse learned and worked with iconic Broadway composers, orchestrators, and music directors. He was on the music team for TONY and GRAMMY AWARD WINNER, Alex Lacamoire and the first national tour of HAMILTON: AN AMERICAN MUSICAL; Dominick Amendum and Stephen Schwartz on the world premiere musical, THE PRINCE OF EGYPT; Greg Anthony Rassen and Paul Scott Goodman on the world premiere musical, A WALK ON THE MOON. Recently, Jesse was featured in the American Theatre Magazine "ROLE CALL: People to Watch" for his role as an accomplished Latinx music director working across the United States in many theaters.
As a professional jazz and salsa musician, Jesse has shared the stage with countless world renown musicians including Terrell Stafford, Natalie Cole, Michael Bublé, Tower of Power, Brubeck Brothers, Dave Brubeck, Paquito D’Rivera, Anat Cohen, Dee Daniels, Dave Liebman, Wayne Bergeron, Steve Smith, Jimmy Heath, Hildemaro, Karl Perazzo, Carlos Xavier Salsa Project, and many others. Aside from jazz and salsa, Jesse has performed in professional musical theater pit orchestras, including San Jose Stage, San Francisco Playhouse, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and subbing for the National Tour of KINKY BOOTS.
Jesse holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho. While at UI, Jesse studied trumpet under Dr. Vern Sielert, conducting under Dr. Michael Murphy and Professor Alan Gemberling, composition and arranging under Daniel Bukvich. Jesse is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild of America and National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures.
ARTISTIC STATEMENT Billy Joel once said, “I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” As a Latinx musician-turned-playwright, that quote has always resonated with me throughout my life. My compositions focus on rhythm, structure, motifs, and arcs -- much like writing a play -- and bring a unique sound to the stage.
I’ve had a hard time recognizing that the title “playwright” belongs after my name. “Music director”, “Composed by”, and “Music supervisor” are more of the traditional titles I have been given through my journey of becoming a theater artist. I have always been those titles, but wanted to find a way to impact the Latinx theater community. And here I am, writer of short narratives, eclectic stories, and full scale musicals with “playwright” as my title.
I am a storyteller. I tell stories of my Latinx community and familia. I am a composer. Through lyrics, music, and compositional techniques, I have come across a unique sound of contemporary, yet traditional musical theater. I am me. A Latinx artist finding his way through the stage -- the pit, conducting, writing, and impacting my Latinx community.