BWW Interview: Dez Walker of RAGTIME at Stagecrafters Promises Beautiful Music and a Compelling Story
Interested in seeing a recent Broadway classic right at home in Royal Oak? From September 13th to October 6th, you can check out Stagecrafters' production of Ragtime at their famous Baldwin Theatre. When this musical opened on Broadway in 1998, it garnered a whopping 12 Tony Award nominations and won four of them, including Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score.
If you're not familiar with the story of Ragtime, it's all about the stories of three different Americans in the early 20th-century. One is an upper-class suburban wife called "Mother," one is a Jewish immigrant named Tateh, and one is an African American Harlem-based musician named Coalhouse Walker Jr.
Here to tell you more about Ragtime and what you can expect from Stagecrafters' upcoming production is Dez Walker, who plays the aforementioned Coalhouse Walker Jr. You can read his interview with BWW Detroit below!
BWW Detroit: For an introduction, can you give BWW readers a brief background of yourself and your theatre career?
Dez Walker: I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. I grew up playing sports, mostly basketball and football. That changed in 2005 when I was introduced to my first musical (Seussical the Musical). Everything changed for me then, and I've been on the stage ever since.
In a sentence, how would you describe Ragtime?
A beautiful tale that takes you on a journey of different emotions that we experience in this world.
What was your introduction to Ragtime?
I was actually in the 2006 production of Ragtime at Stagecrafters playing Booker T. Washington. I fell in love with this musical then.
What's your favorite part about playing this role and being in this show?
The role of Coalhouse Walker Jr. is my dream role. The music, the story, the emotions. As an actor, you want to be challenged by roles like this.
What would you say is the main takeaway of this musical? In other words, what will audiences come out of this musical thinking about?
I think the main takeaway from this show is that at the end of the day no matter the differences, no matter the problems, love wins.
What's your favorite song to perform in the show? What's your favorite song that you don't perform?
My favorite song to perform is "Coalhouse's Soliloquy." It's when you see the change in Coalhouse. My favorite song I don't perform is probably "Journey On." I'm performing it in my head constantly.
What do you believe makes Ragtime relevant for a 2019 American audience?
I believe that Ragtime is relevant in 2019 because sadly we're still having some of the same issues in this country. People are choosing to hate people that differ from them rather than celebrate and learn from someone different than you. It's how we grow. We learn from each other and better ourselves.
What would you say to someone with no or limited prior knowledge of Ragtime to get them to come see this production at Stagecrafters?
I would tell anyone unfamiliar with this show, if you love beautiful music and a compelling story that touches you, then you probably shouldn't miss this one.
Do you have any personal social media accounts (e.g. Twitter, Instagram, etc.) that you want listed for the readers?
Ragtime runs on Stagecrafters' Main Stage in Royal Oak from September 13th to October 6th. For more information and tickets, visit www.stagecrafters.org.