PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: The Lion King's "Mufasa," Alton Fitzgerald White

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25 Jun 2013

First stage kiss: I got to kiss the actress who played Deena when I played Curtis Taylor Jr. in Dreamgirls at The Candlelight Dinner Playhouse in Chicago. It was also my first Equity principal role.
Favorite or most memorable onstage role as a child/teenager: Being cast as The King in The King and I, the big mainstage musical of the year at The Cincinnati School for Creative and Performing Arts, my senior year of high school.
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living: After I graduated from The Cincinnati School for Creative and Performing Arts, I tried to convince myself that it was time to get "back to reality" so I enrolled at Ohio University to study business.

I lasted there about a month before I'd finally accepted that I had been bitten by the showbiz bug! From there I took general studies at The University of Cincinnati, auditioned for and was accepted into The Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music's Musical Theatre department.

How you got your Equity card: In the chorus, as a dancer in a regional production of Evita at The Marriott Lincolnshire near Chicago.
Favorite pre-/post- show meal: I love sushi after the show.
Favorite liquid refreshment: Carrot juice. YUM!!!
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups: Blasting, singing along with, stretching and dancing to all kinds of music before the show!
Most challenging role you have ever played: That would be Mister in The Color Purple. The challenge for me was to not play him like just a mean "stock" bad guy. I wanted to play Mister closer to the way he was written in the original book.

I saw Mister as a hurt, lost man/child, trapped between the kind of life that he really wanted and the kind of life that was expected of him. The key scene for me is when old Mister comes to the house and tells him to put Shug out, and Mister becomes like a little hurt boy again, rebelling against his father's wishes.

He was perceived as a powerful man, but with a powerless soul until he made peace with everyone including himself. Playing the hurt and trapped aspects of him as opposed to overt meanness was a gamble that paid off richly.

The biggest compliments I received at the Stage Door after the show were from women telling me that they had never even considered that hiding behind his anger, Mister was really a sad and miserable man and that by the end of the play, they wanted him to have peace.

Plus THE Oprah Winfrey told me that I was magnificent in the role! A true highlight of my career!!!

Craziest audition story: Too many to name!!!
Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap: While playing the role of John in Miss Saigon on Broadway, I was upstairs in my dressing room lifting weights, blasting music and vocalizing. My dresser at the time had mistakenly turned down my monitor so I missed the "places" call for Act 2.

My character opens the act singing "Bui Doi." One of my understudies had to step forward from the choir and sing it. When I heard the music from my dressing room, which was on the 2nd floor, I had an out of body experience! Shock and panic!

I was so mortified that for many years I blanked it out. When the original cast got together last year for our 20 year reunion, some of the guys brought it up and we all laughed about it.

Worst costume ever: I don't really have a bad costume experience. Yaaay!!!
Worst job you ever had: I was a bellman while in college. I lasted for about a month. HATED IT!!! Waiting tables, I enjoyed!
If you could trade roles with anyone in the cast for a week, who would it be? Absolutely no one! I get to play THE KING!!! Wooooo Hooooo!!!
Leading man role you've been dying to play: Billy Bigelow in Carousel
Leading lady role you'd like a shot at: Aida
Your Disney dream role (aside from Lion King): I would love to play a delicious Disney villain with a knock-down-drag-out song!
Something about you that surprises people: That I am more shy than I am social.
Something you are incredibly proud of: Being blessed to finance and record my new Disney CD, "Disney My Way," and to have Mr. Thomas Schumacher, the president of Disney Theatrical, write the liner notes for it. A true dream come true!
Something you're embarrassed to admit: That I think of myself as a cool nerd.
Career you would want if not a performer: If I were not in showbiz, I would have been an architect or a psychotherapist. I am obsessed with the journey and the power of transformation!
Three things you can't live without: Love, Family and Music
"I'll never understand…" … not being able to forgive!
Words of advice for aspiring performers: Anything is possible if you are willing to work hard for it. There are no shortcuts! There is absolutely no way around good ol' fashioned hard work, so GO FOR IT!!!

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