BWW Interview: Deon'te Goodman in SONGBIRD at Two River Theater
Two River Theater (TRT) is presenting Songbird from June 9 to July 1 in the Joan and Robert Rechnitz Theater. Directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch, it is written by Michael Kimmel with music and lyrics by Lauren Pritchard.
In the show, fading country star Tammy Trip returns home to the honky-tonk that launched her music career, planning to help the son she abandoned launch his own. But will her arrival do more harm than good? Dreams, ambition, love, and heartbreak-along with a good deal of whiskey all collide in this highly acclaimed new musical, based on Chekhov's The Seagull.
Broadwayworld.com had the pleasure of interviewing Deon'te Goodman who plays Rip in Songbird.
Goodman is beyond thrilled to make his debut at Two River Theatre! His most recent accomplishments include his New York City debut in Freedom Riders: The Civil Rights Musical as Bernard Lafayette. NYC and Regional credits: The Prince of Egypt (Stage Reading), Caroline, or Change (Cape Fear Regional Theatre), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Florida Repertory Theatre), Stop Kiss (B Street Theatre), The Toxic Avenger (Farmers Alley Theatre), and RENT (NorthStreet Playhouse). He has also landed principle roles in many operas, including Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, Philip Glass' Galileo Galilei, and Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors. Proud UNC Greensboro alumnus with a Degree in Classical Voice. He is beyond grateful to Wolf Talent Group, Calleri Casting, and the support of his amazing friends and family!
We'd love to know about your earliest interest in singing and dancing.
My interests in performing began as early as the 6th grade. I don't really come from an artistic family/environment so I can't say I had a full grasp on what a musical was at the time. Luckily, I had two music teachers, Tracy Helf Gelston and Sarah Gentile, that saw something in me I hadn't yet seen in myself. They convinced me to be in my first musical (though it didn't take much convincing) as well as co-directed. The rest is history! Not only did I fall in love with the stage, it sort of became a safe place for me to be myself-I was often picked on during the school day and so it was nice to not only escape, but to actually feel like I was a part of something. I don't think any child at that age knows what it truly means to accept what makes them different, but I honestly don't think I would've learned that lesson as quickly as I did, had it not been for the performing arts.
Is there someone in particular who inspired your career?
Whenever I think about my first experiences with Theatre, I always remember hearing Brian Stokes-Mitchell singing "Make Them Hear You" from Ragtime. When I think of who inspires me and after whom I'd like to model my career, it'd definitely be him and Norm Lewis. Watching them break barriers and perform roles not usually done by people that look like me was all the inspiration I needed
Tell us a little about your time at UNC Greensboro.
I wouldn't trade my time at UNC Greensboro for the world. It was my first real introduction to classical music/singing. I immediately fell in love with the style, the repertoire, the way our voices work, etc. UNCG is working on building an MT program now, but back when I was there expressing my desire to have a career in MT while studying classically was an uphill battle. Fortunately, I had two teachers, Dr. Justin Cowan and Dr. Carla LeFevre, who made sure I received the tools I needed to maintain a successful career once I graduated.
How do you like working at TRT?
Working with Two River Theatre has been absolutely amazing! I think I can speak for the entire cast when I say that as soon as Songbird rehearsals started, TRT has taken every measure to be sure we feel taken care of. It just makes our jobs so much easier and I can't thank them enough!
What have been some of the challenges of playing Rip in Songbird?
I would have to say the biggest challenge with playing Rip in Songbird is being sure I don't become too attached with everyone else's emotions. There are several moments in this show where the other characters are feeling the severity of their situations and Rip's job is to cut through all of that and lighten the mood, change the subject, etc. He never really allows himself to completely feel even his own situation, which is so different from myself. Instead he masks fear with anger and sadness with humor.
What would you like audiences to know about the show?
I believe so much in this project. This show is so ridiculously full of heart and talent. The entire Songbird company has spent the past month and a half pouring ourselves into this incredible work for you all to enjoy. The final missing piece is you!! We can't wait for you to come laugh, cry, and have a good time with us!!
For the future?
Following Songbird, I will head back to NYC for about 6 weeks. Afterwards I will travel to (even) warmer weather to play one of my dream roles! I can't announce anything quite yet, but just know that I am very excited!!!! (Notice my overuse of punctuation).
What else would you like to share with BWW NJ readers?
Thank you all SO much for welcoming us to your beautiful town, Red Bank! Please let us return the kindness by sharing with you a truly astounding piece of work.
To learn more about Deon'te Goodman, visit https://www.deontegoodman.com/ and follow him on Instagram @basso15.
Two River Theater is located at 21 Bridge Street in Red Bank, New Jersey. For tickets and more information, call 732.345.1400 and visit https://www.tworivertheater.org/.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Deon'te Goodman