Former Louisville Male High School show choir star Tymika Prince is about to knock your socks off in CenterStage's upcoming production of The Color Purple, which will be locally premiering this Thursday. I was particularly excited about the opportunity to interview Tymika, who I am sure will make the lead role of Celie her own.
Lou.com: What drew you to the complex role of Celie? In what ways is it different from any other past role you have tackled?
Tymika Prince: After seeing their Tony performance in 2006, I knew [The] Color Purple was a show that I wanted to be apart of if I ever got the chance. Celie is a super complex role that surpasses the emotional ranges of all of my previous roles. I feel like it's a full rags-to-riches character in more ways than just wealth.
Lou.com: What are some of the most challenging parts of acting in this particular production?
TP: I am a naturally confident, strong woman, so playing a character that allows men to treat her like a dog/slave has been an eye-opening experience. The fact that I have to portray someone who doesn't think highly of [her]self is strange territory for me.
Lou.com: What excites you about The Color Purple?
TP: Other than the role itself, I was super excited about getting to work with an all black cast. Since it's not something that happens often in Louisville, I jumped at the chance to get to perform Color Purple with a cast that shares my same [love] for musical theatre.
Lou.com: What was the auditioning process like?
TP: The auditioning process wasn't too stressful. Due to the fact that I was in Little Shop of Horrors at Derby Dinner Playhouse [in March of 2013] at the time of the auditions, I had no time to work on a new song, so I went in and did "My Funny Valentine." It wasn't until the callbacks that I actually had to sing and read sides from the show.
Lou.com: Normally the casts work with John Leffert. What do you think Rush Trowel brings to the role of director? What has he drawn out from you in your performance?
TP: With him, Rush brings a freshness to the role of director. He brings passion, a love for character building, and a fresh perspective.
Lou.com: I personally remember when you were a leading light at Louisville Male High School in the show choir. What experiences since then have led you on the path to acting as Celie now?
TP: In show choir, I learned to be bigger than life. For Celie, I have to be meek and timid. I would rather give too much and pull back than to not give enough.
Lou.com: How has this production impacted you?
TP: This show has made me reevaluate some relationships in my life. It's made me think about what's important.
Lou.com: What is one piece of information you want the audience to know?
TP: I find myself using this quote often when talking to people. It's from the musical RENT: "You'll never share real love until you love yourself." There's only one of you. You've got to love yourself to realize what you're worth and that you deserve better. It takes Celie almost the entire show to find that out, but when she does, it's the most rewarding.
Lou.com: Any particular sneak peeks to what CenterStage-goers will be most eager to see? What will be your show-stopper?
TP: If the shoes were reversed and I was coming to see Color Purple, I would be eager to see a 30 member African-American cast all doing what they love to do. Not to mention going above and exceeding in every musical number. "I'm Here" is my 11:00 o'clock number and I'm hoping to pull a lot of things out of the audience. I [want to] make them cry, make them cheer, make them understand the true meaning of love, friendship, and knowing thyself.
Lou.com: What do you hope viewers will take away from your performance?
TP: I'm hoping that people understand the message of love in this musical. Even though Celie has some mighty high hurdles to jump, it was love that kept her motivated towards her goal.
CenterStage's interpretation of The Color Purple will be a special one not to miss, as there will be an all black cast and director, Rush Trowel, who is also a Louisville-based actor. Trowel has directed over 50 stage productions across the country, including working administratively with Broadway in the big apple. This show will be in good hands.
Make sure to check it out if you want a glorious side of a powerful story of love and redemption to go along with the celebration of spring. The Color Purple will be wowing Louisville on March 20, 22, 27, 29, 31, and April 3 and 5 at 7:30 p.m. for you night adventurers, and for you early birds, on March 23, 30, and April 6 at 2:00 p.m. Call 502-238-2709 or visit www.CenterStageJCC.org to reserve tickets (which you most definitely should).
Top Photo: Courtesy of CenterStage's facebook page