PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: Cinderella's "Lord Pinkleton," Phumzile Sojola

By Matthew Blank
March 12, 2013

Phumzile Sojola, who plays Lord Pinkleton in the Broadway debut of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.



Sojola made his Broadway debut in The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess. He has appeared Off-Broadway in Three Mo' Tenors.

Opera work includes L'etoile and Troubled Island with New York City Opera, Lost in the Stars with Skylark Opera, La Bohème with Missouri Symphony Orchestra and Aida, The Magic Flute and Carmen at Dayton Opera.





Full given name: Phumzile Sojola
Where you were born/where you were raised: I was born in Umtata, South Africa.
Zodiac Sign: Aquarius
What your parents did/do for a living: My mom is a retired nurse and my father was a doctor.
Siblings: Yes, a bunch of them.
Current audition song/monologue: I wish it were "Hello, Dolly!" I love that song
Special skills: I play the gong and African drums.
Something you're REALLY bad at: Coming down to the stage on time after places has been called. Horrible. God help me.
First Broadway show you ever saw: Les Miserables at the Broadway Theatre in 1990. Isn't it ironic that my second Broadway show is at the Broadway Theatre?
If you could go back in time and catch any Broadway show, what would it be? Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk. I can't believe I missed that show and I was in NYC.
Current or recent shows you recommended to friends: Peter and the Starcatcher. I enjoyed it so much.
Favorite showtune(s) of all time: "The Impossible Dream"
"One"
"Children of the Wind" (sung by my wife)
Some favorite modern musicals: Bring it On, Sarafina, In the Heights, The Drowsy Chaperone
Some favorite classic musicals: The Secret Garden, The Sound of Music
Broadway or screen stars of the past you would most have loved to perform with: Ethel Merman. I would like to hear her voice in person. And Sammy Davis Jr.
Your personal vocal idols, living or dead: Ray Charles, Nina Simone, Tony Bennett, Bobby McFerrin
The one performance — attended — that you will never forget: Ray Charles singing "America the Beautiful" live in Dayton. Amazing.
Music that makes you cry, any genre: Carl Lewis singing the national anthem.
MAC or PC? MAC
Most played song on your iPod: "Moussolou" by Salif Keita. This song reminds me of home.
Most-visited websites: ESPN, BBC News and NPR
Last book you read: "Barack Like Me" by David Alan Grier. It reads like a movie. I highly recommend this hilariously intelligent book.
Must-see TV show(s): "Mike and Molly" and the "30 for 30" ESPN series
Last good movie you saw: "In Bruges." Great movie.
Some films you consider classics: "Dead Presidents," "Traffic" and "Midnight Run"
Performer you would drop everything to go see: Michael Jackson
Pop culture guilty pleasure: UFC and "48 Hours." My wife hates that I watch these shows but I enjoy them.
Three favorite cities: Cape Town, Lexington, KY, and New York
Favorite sport/team/player: It is between golf and baseball. I know it's boring to most people but that is what I am into.

I love sports generally. Shout out to the Knicks, the NY Giants, the Yankees and my KY Wildcats!

First CD/Tape/LP you owned: Something by Kool and the Gang
What are some of your most memorable roles as a kid or teenager and how old were you? My life as a performer began at 23. But, I would say the Honeyman in Porgy and Bess. That was such an amazing experience as a whole. I learned so much from that run.
First stage kiss: Outreach. 6 months. 2 shows a day. Me and the soprano. Hundreds of children grossed out in every school when we had to kiss every show. After this experience, I learned to focus.
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living: When I was at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, I took a music appreciation class. We were required to listen to this tape of musical selections from western music. In that tape was the duet from La Boheme sung by Placido Domingo and Montserrat Caballe.

I was so obsessed with this duet and I would not stop listening to it. I think that made quit studying criminal justice and go with performing.

How you got your Equity card: I was cast in Porgy and Bess on Broadway.
Favorite pre-/post- show meal: I like chicken, green beans and plantains from Grinis on 143 and Malcolm X Boulevard in Harlem.
Favorite liquid refreshment: Water or Jamaican ginger beer
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups: I enjoy the foam roller and stretching. I have learned to appreciate a physical warm up since injuring myself so much on stage.
Most challenging role you have ever played: I will say Rodolfo in La Boheme. You are onstage just about the whole show. The third act is the most demanding vocally and requires stamina.
Craziest audition story: I was singing an audition and forgot that my cell phone was in my pocket. It rang as I was about to sing the toughest and highest part of the song. I sang that song well that day because I was singing and trying to turn my phone off at the same time. The casting person laughed and said that was a first. I got cast in the show.

 

Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap: We were doing a Kurt Weill piece in Graz, Austria, and we didn't have any rehearsal with the lighting designer.

So in the middle of my solo I am on a table singing and a strobe light came on, flashing in front of my face. In that second, I forgot every word and everything from the song. I stood there silent, motionless. I came off the table and walked off stage without finishing the song. I think the Austrians thought it was really dramatic.

Worst job you ever had: I worked at UPS loading trucks from 12 midnight to 7 in the morning for three months.That was rough. The Christmas season was the most challenging. I have never seen that many boxes in my life.
If you could trade roles with anyone in the cast for a week, who would it be? I would trade with Cody Williams or Andy Mills. They are the animals that run around and tumble all over the stage. They are so good at it that it makes me want to do it as well. I'd probably break my leg if I tried all of that tumbling.
Leading man role you've been dying to play: Radames in Verdi's Aida
Something you are incredibly proud of: I am proud to a husband of such a wonderful lady, Andrea Jones-Sojola, and proud to be a daddy to Zanelanga.
Career you would want if not a performer: Pro tennis player or physical therapist
Three things you can't live without: Sports, my family and chocolate chip cookies
"I'll never understand why…" … there is Braille at a drive-thru ATM.
Words of advice for aspiring performers:

"Don't wait for things to be perfect, just go!"

—Fairy Godmother in Cinderella