Derrick Baskin made his Broadway debut as Mitch Mahoney, the comfort counselor to the young spellers of 2005’s The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Baskin was another of the unknown ensemble who have since hit it big, most recently with his starring (and now Tony-nominated) role as Temptations founder Otis Williams in Ain’t Too Proud—The Life and Times of The Temptations.
Baskin’s sensitivity and buttery vocals shone in Spelling Bee and again as the evil eel sidekick Jetsam to The Little Mermaid’s Ursula. But it wasn’t until Baskin played Gator in Memphis, a man who stopped speaking after witnessing horrific racially motivated violence, that audiences realized the depths Baskin could mine.
Now, he combines the care and the voice (and the moves) to lead The Temptations and their bio-musical. Just as Williams united the Motown supergroup over the years, Baskin is the North Star of the current quintet playing the Temps. He brings his wisdom, skills, and emotional arsenal to illustrate the story of the Temptations, their sacrifices, and their successes, to the stage.
Here, Baskin reflected on the first musicals he ever did, the show that most impacted him, the musical song he’ll never get sick of, his favorite past Tonys performance, and which Spelling Bee castmate he wants to host the Tony Awards.