Lehman Alumnus Produces New Off-Broadway Comedy

May 8, 2013 11:28 am Alumni, Alumni Relations, School of Natural and Social Sciences, Students, Theatre Program, Urban Male Leadership Program

Kermit Raphael Ureña

Lehman alumnus Kermit Raphael Ureña ’07 is the producer of a new comedy, Gym Shorts: The Show. Performances will run from May 10 through May 26, at the 777 Theatre on 8th Avenue. Written and directed by Eric S. Robertson, the play is set at a local gym and is presented in five vignettes. Tickets to the show are available now at www.gymshortstheshow.com. Lehman students will receive a discount when they use the code STU25. Students must show ID at the Box Office.

In Gym Shorts, a group of men exorcise their insecurities and demons in this light comedy about relationships, companionship, and acceptance.

It’s a topic that Ureña is intimately familiar with. He describes his life since graduation as one roller coaster ride after another. Upon earning his degree in business administration, he went to work for the Hebrew Home at Riverdale as a development associate. Eager to launch his career as a business professional, Ureña left the Hebrew Home in 2008 to start work in real estate management and administration.

Soon after, the bottom fell out. The financial and real estate markets continued to decline, and Ureña was eventually let go from his job. Unemployed and with few prospects, he turned to exercise. Ureña dove into the relatively new P90X fitness program, through which he lost 101 pounds.

Always the business man, Ureña formed new partnerships with coaches associated with the P90X series with the aim of educating others on fitness and making healthy lifestyle choices. He named his new business “Real Easy Fitness: The Ref of Fitness.”

This new initiative led to a chance encounter with the man behind P90X, Tony Horton. Following their meeting, Horton’s representatives contacted Ureña about going on tours with Horton and starring alongside him in new infomercials.

“I was on top of the world at that point,” recalls Ureña. “I was really looking forward to being part of something that I was excited about.”

Life, as it happens, had other plans for the burgeoning fitness guru. Ureña and his girlfriend were struck by a car while crossing a street in a Brooklyn neighborhood. Both have since recuperated from their injuries, but doctors told Ureña that he would have to stop the rigorous P90X series—his injuries were such that extreme forms of exercise were no longer possible. This also meant no tour and no infomercial.

When One Door Closes, Break Through Another…

Ureña is nothing if not resilient. Disappointed over his lost opportunity and disillusioned with his new physical reality, Ureña turned to something that he hadn’t done since second grade—acting. He enrolled in acting classes at a studio in SoHo, and soon he was going on auditions and landing bit parts in independent films, music videos, and off-Broadway theater productions.

Ureña eventually teamed up with a group of actors to start a production company, “Naked Chicken Productions” in 2011. He and his cohorts went on to produce their first showcase at the Roy Arias Theatre in Manhattan. The production generated some excitement among theatre professionals, and “Naked Chicken Productions” was soon being asked to produce other events.

He says producing Gym Shorts has served as an outlet for him. “In light of everything that’s happened in my life, I thought it was appropriate for me to produce this play,” laughs Ureña.

“If someone had told me three years ago that I would be producing plays, operating my own accounting office, and giving talks about healthy life habits, I would have thought they were crazy,” says Ureña. “But despite all the ups and downs, I have to say, I’m glad I’m still in the game. I wouldn’t miss this for the world.”