In the musical Songs for a New World, nearly 20 of cult composer Jason Robert Brown's songs come together in a concert-style format to explore life's emotions. This means that the songs vary wildly in tone, tempo and style, putting extra pressure on the singers who are called upon to perform them. In Uptown Players' upcoming production of Songs, versatile actor Walter Lee is one of those talented performers.
The word "versatile" is especially apt when talking about Lee, who has inhabited roles as wide-ranging as a dapper doo-wop singer (WaterTower Theatre's Smokey Joe's Cafe), a chain-gang convict (Parade, also at WaterTower) and a sultry, sexy Kit Kat Girl (Dallas Theater Center's Cabaret). His one-man cabaret performance recently played at the Out of the Loop Fringe Festival, and now Lee will be tackling some of Songs' emotionally complex and musically satisfying tunes.
He recently took the time to fill out our survey of serious, fun and sometimes ridiculous questions.
Name: Walter Lee
Role in Songs for a New World: Man 1
Hometown: Abilene, Texas
Where you currently reside: Dallas
First theater role: Enjolras in Cooper High School's production of Les Miserables
First stage show you ever saw: Abilene Christian University's production of Jekyll and Hyde
Moment you decided to pursue a career in theater: After I saw ACU's production, I fell in love and never looked back!
Most challenging role you've played: Coalhouse Walker Jr. in Ragtime. I'm not the most masculine person.
Special skills: Some gymnastics, makeup artistry, and painting
Something you're REALLY bad at: Cooking! Hands down!
Current pop culture obsession: Beyonce Knowles Carter!!!
Last book you read: The libretto for Fortress of Solitude
Favorite movie(s): The First Wives Club
Favorite musician(s): Beyonce, Ciara, Chaka Kahn, Michael Jackson and Ledesi
Favorite song: "Kiss the Air" by Danny Calvert
Dream role: Lola in Kinky Boots
Favorite play(s): Sylvia
Favorite musical(s): Dreamgirls and Parade
Favorite actors/actresses: Ben Vereen
Favorite food: Spaghetti
Must-see TV show(s): Awkward and Once Upon a Time
Something most people don't know about you: I was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Place in the world you'd most like to visit: Thailand
Pre-show warm-up: Joking with cast members. Being alone makes me think, which then makes me more nervous.
Favorite part about your current role: That's a tough one. I'm going to go with the fact that I get to play with my part vocally.
Most challenging part about your current role: The music is the most complicated music I've ever encountered, and my vocal part is very challenging.
Most embarrassing onstage mishap: My part in a Broadway Christmas Carol! I had to put on a fat suit to play Mrs. Fezziwig, and one night I put the fat suit on backward. It was hilarious!
Career you'd have if you weren't a performer: Painter
Favorite post-show spot: Home
Favorite thing about Dallas-Forth Worth: The unpredictable weather!
Most memorable theater moment: During The Wiz I was playing the Scarecrow, and one of my lines in the show was "You got any spare change?" After the show was over, a little boy in the audience came up to me and gave me a quarter. It was awesome!