Revere alumnus performs on Broadway


Kendall Morrison, Reporter

Cody Hernández left Revere High School with instructions– take dance classes– after Laurie Russell, the former Revere Players theatre director, saw the potential in one student and wanted him to succeed. 

Hernández is no stranger to the stage, in fact, he has made his high school passion into a lifelong career– a feat very few achieve. From Robin Hood to Grease and A Christmas Carol, Hernández performed in many shows at Revere High School. Now, he is taking on not just New York City but cities all across the country on the Broadway national tour of Disney’s Aladdin, all while balancing his social life with an unusual line of work.

Hernández moved to the district from Colorado when he was in seventh grade and graduated from Revere in 2010. He put himself into the spotlight after a friend encouraged him to audition for a Broadview Heights Spotlight Theatre. From there, his passion blossomed as he joined the Revere Players in the fall of his freshman year in their production of Robin Hood.

Although he had already spent over a year in the district, Hernández discovered a whole new world in theatre.

“My time with Revere Players was a very formative time for me. That was where I found my community,” Hernández said. 

Kelsey Johnson, a close friend of Hernández, agrees with him. 

“Truly, my standout experience [in high school] was with Revere Players,” Johnson said. 

Johnson and Hernández performed in Players together and both graduated as the Class of 2010. Johnson has recently returned to the district as a long-term substitute for the RHS Intervention Specialist and the assistant director/choreographer of Revere Players in the recent productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Mamma Mia! Johnson remembers her time in Players well. 

“When I look back at my high school career, everything else is kind of a blur; everything else is pretty hazy, but Revere Players are my key happy times. That’s why it’s so much fun being here now and watching [the current Players] experience and love all of these moments,” Johnson said.

Hernández performed with Johnson and Revere Players for all eight shows of his high school career: Robin Hood, Grease, Arsenic and Old Lace, Music Man, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Fiddler on the Roof, A Christmas Carol and Guys and Dolls. 

Every one of those shows was directed by the recently retired Russell, who now volunteers her spare time to help Johnson and current director Sarah Pine keep their shows running smoothly. Russell first met Hernández in 2006 when he auditioned for the fall play, and they have maintained a good relationship since. 

“We had a great student-director relationship because . . . he wanted to do the best he could do in theatre,” Russell said.

He has stayed in contact with Russell and even helped her out in a time of need when the performing world was shut down in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The then-current spring production, Shrek The Musical, was just coming together when the pandemic closed all in-person shows, so Russell decided to have the cast film themselves from inside the safety of their own homes and create a virtual show.

“I called [Hernández] up when Shrek was closed down, and he did all of the sound and editing for me … All I had to do was send him the tapes,” Russell said.

After his graduation from Revere in 2010, Hernández attended Kent State University, where he studied musical theatre. He had the Revere Players support system behind him as he performed in shows that both Johnson and Russell attended. 

“I’ve known him all this time, and we have stayed friends … I would go to his college productions; I also attended his off-broadway productions,” Russell said.

Hernández moved straight to New York City soon after he graduated from Kent State.

Being a full-time actor, dancer and singer can prove difficult when funds are tight, but Hernández knew about that going into his career as a performer. When he is not singing and dancing on stage, he can be found in the Big Apple selling homes as a real estate agent.

“[Theatre] jobs are [few and far] between, and it’s very competitive. So most of the time when you’re first starting out, you’re not working consistently, so you have to have a support job, and I wanted to have a support job that created a lot of flexibility but still . . .  allowed me to make a lot of money so that I could accomplish the goals I wanted . . . and I got into real estate because of that,” Hernández said. 

He even took two years off of his work as a performer to get his real estate work up and running. However, Hernández does not work all the time. He has passions outside of theatre that keep his fast-paced world from spinning out of control. 

“Having hobbies outside of theatre is very important. I love to sit down and watch Netflix just like anyone else,” Hernández said.

He has found that keeping himself grounded protects the love of theatre from becoming simply a way to make ends meet. 

“Doing it as a career almost requires some sort of compartmentalization…You have to kind of compartmentalize the thing that you love from the thing that makes you money,” Hernández said.

He has found a creative yet competitive career that may be difficult to do all the time, but he loves what he does.

“My favorite thing about theatre is the community, which is the thing that brought me to it. It’s the thing that keeps me going through it; it’s the thing that keeps bringing me back to it,” Hernández said.

Hernández works hard to keep his career and his social life separate, which becomes exponentially more difficult when on tour, even if that tour has brought him back to his hometown.

“Whenever [you are] in any kind of city, you kind of have to find time to continue…find a way to not have your whole life on pause because you’re doing a contract that takes you away from your day-to-day life and from your home,” Hernández said.

Hernández may have a unique line of work, but he worked hard to get where he is today. 

“I think Cody is a perfect example of going for it because … so many people … try, try, try, and they get discouraged but Cody never gave up,” Russell said.

Above all else, Hernández’s character is what keeps his family close. 

“I’m just so proud of him, so lucky to be his friend, and he’s such a fun person,” Johnson said.

His family and friends who attend his shows watch him with enthusiasm, seeing how far he has come since his time with Revere Players.

“I feel like his mom because I’m just so proud of him, and I literally have a smile on my face the entire show,” Russell said.

Hernández and Johnson have remained friends since their initial meeting in 7th grade. Somewhere between being the only two freshmen in the 2006 fall play and attending every school dance together, Hernández officiated Johnson’s wedding after getting ordained online.

“Cody was the obvious choice because he has poise and presence, and it just made a whole lot of sense … He cried in the middle of a Target,” Johnson said.

Hernández has traveled a long road to reach the point in his life he is at now, and the change in him is visible to those who know him well enough. Russell and her close friend Kathy Harris visited Hernández after he first arrived in New York City.

“I was [in New York City] … Mrs. Harris and I were together, and we invited him to breakfast, and we hadn’t seen him for a while. I could tell that he was still nervous about being in New York … but then when I look at him now and how confident he is … now he’s on top of the world,” Russell said.

Returning home to Cleveland, he performed as Razoul and a member of the ensemble in seven shows at Playhouse Square and Jafar in one of the shows on Friday. The hit Broadway musical Disney’s Aladdin ran from March 8-12 in Connor Palace.

“Any kid in musical theatre that wants to make it should talk to Cody because it wasn’t easy for him. It took him almost ten years to get his big part but he never gave up…he’d do anything for [Revere Players],” Russell said. 

Hernández has now taken the dance classes his high school director encouraged him to over two decades ago. He is Russell’s first student on Broadway and has blossomed into a professional, creative performer who is just getting started in his career.


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