In Part 3 of a series of interviews with the cast of Montgomery College Summer Dinner Theatre’s production of Side Show, meet Da’Von Moody.
Joel: Please introduce yourself and tell us what other shows and roles you have performed at Montgomery College and elsewhere on our local stages.
Da’Von: My name is Da’Von Moody I’m a student here at Montgomery College (MC) and I’ve performed In the Heights as Graffiti Pete as well as the Falcon in MC’s production of Conference of the Birds.
When did you audition for your role, what did you perform at your audition, and how long after you auditioned did you receive ‘the call’ that you had the role?
The Summer Dinner Theatre’s auditions were halfway into March and I sang “What is it About Her” from The Wild Party. A week after auditioning I received the call that they wanted me to play Jake for the summer. I was elated because I really wanted to play this role.
Who do you play in the show and how do you relate to your character? Are there any personal experiences that you brought with you that helped you develop your performance?
My character is Jake, the local Negro in the sideshow; he acts as a sort of big brother to the freaks as well as a right hand man for the Boss. He is in love with Violet but cherishes both of the twins as his babies and dares not to tell her for fear of what would happen. The one thing that stands out the most about Jake is his selflessness, which is a trait through which I truly can relate to. He often looks out for people on his own volition without asking anything in return. I come from a big family as a middle child in which there’s not much room to be selfish, so I brought that feeling of family to the freak show.
What were some of the challenges you have had in fine-tuning your performance? What has changed in your performance since auditions? And how has Director Walter Ware III and Musical Director John Henderson helped you to resolve these challenges and to improve your performance?
While myself and Jake share qualities, the truth rests that I am in fact not Jake. This is only my third show and making this separation provided to be a bit of challenge. Naturally, I sought out help from my director Walter Ware who was extremely patient and understanding. He knew exactly how to approach it. He told me to create a backstory, to actually create an entire life that differed greatly from my own in order to harness that uniqueness that permeates only through the character. Now having no prior musical training, our music director John Henderson also knew where a lot of my discrepancies lied. At this point I had accrued quite an array of bad habits having no training so John was able to bring many things to attention that weren’t even a thought before.
The show is sung-through. How would you describe Henry Krieger and Bill Russell’s score? What song that you are not singing moves you the most and why? And how are you resting your voice between performances?
The score is very clever in that it establishes motifs and incorporates them into a wide variety of music that is so strategically placed for a smooth and witty flow of the show. Not to mention that this score was written twenty years ago and here we are today bringing it back to life.
“Who Will Love Me As I Am” is by far the song that moves me the most. I feel as though it’s a song to which everyone can relate, through the extended metaphor of the freak show it begs the question: who actually will accept me for who I am, who will be part of the circus that is my life and how will I accept someone else’s? Well, we must first accept our afflictions before we can offer ourselves up to anyone else. To rest my voice, I stay away from anything that dehydrates my voice too much, and there’s an herbal supplement I get from the international market that is really good for throat health.
Talk about your solos? What do we learn about your character that we didn’t know before you sang the song?
Jake is a very cautious person, being a black man in the 30s you have to be, and this is prevalent in “The Devil You Know.” Afterwards, however, during “You Should be Loved” this shows how Jake is weak only to his emotions; specifically his love for Violet. His caution abides, and in a final attempt to save the twins he sacrifices himself exercising no caution, again displaying his selflessness. The audience learns the depth of Jake’s sentiment and how far he’s willing to go to save those he loves.
The design of the show helps tell the story. What impresses you most about the designers’ work and how does their work help to tell the story of your character? Give me an example or two.
And how would you describe Jocelyn Isaac’s choreography? What was the hardest song or scene’s choreography to learn, and why?
My favorite part if the show is by far the set and costumes! I feel as though the essence of the times and the freak show are captured so accurately, such that the audience’s immersion into the world of sideshow is seamless. While Jake doesn’t dance very much in the show there are brief segments in which I have a bit of modern choreography, at the very beginning of the show as well as during you should be loved, traditionally, I am a hip hop/Latin dancer so some of the movement is foreign which presented a bit challenge in learning it.
What has been the most fun working at Summer Dinner Theatre 2016 and how has it made you a better person, food server, and actor/singer? What memories will you take away from your experience?
The most fun about Summer Dinner Theatre is most definitely working with professionals and getting the additional on stage experience. The atmosphere definitely differs from that of just a regular school show. Most of all I’m grateful to have been given this opportunity to meet and learn from such amazing people. Now I’ve been working in restaurants for quite some time so the dinner aspect of the process was in fact the most familiar. It was nice to see theatre and restaurant atmospheres coming together though – definitely an interesting mix. Growing close with a cast is always a pleasant byproduct of being in a show, the blend of personalities makes for a unique set of memories to take on marking the time in your life of growth and self-discovery with people who are on the same journey as you. Those memories I’ll cherish the most.
What’s next for you on the stage?
Well, I acknowledge that I have quite a bit to learn, I’m still new to the whole theatre thing so I’m in the process of exploring what I like as well as what works for me. The learning never ceases so I’m currently taking advantage of Montgomery College’s amazing theatre program and look forward to doing their shows in the future as well as any local theatres should the opportunity arise.
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing you perform in Side Show?
After watching this performance of Side Show, I would like audiences to take away the fact that in some way or another we are all freaks and in order to stay unaffected by the unkind outside world, we must accept ourselves as we are. One cannot offer themselves to love someone else if they do not first practice self-love.
Side Show ends its run tomorrow at 2 PM on July 2, 2o16 at Montgomery College – 51 Mannakee Street, in Rockville, MD. Performances are held at The Theatre Arts Building located at the center of the Montgomery College’s Rockville Campus.
One Remaining Performance is:
-Tomorrow, Saturday July 2nd Matinee Lunch Buffet and Show: Doors open at 12:30 p.m., Curtain is 2 p.m. Purchase tickets here, or call (240) 567-5301.
‘Very Well-Connected’: Meet Cast Members of Montgomery College Summer Dinner Theatre’s ‘Side Show’: Part 1: Anna Phillips-Brown by Joel Markowitz.
‘Very Well-Connected’: Meet Cast Members of Montgomery College Summer Dinner Theatre’s ‘Side Show’: Part 2: Jehan Silva by Joel Markowitz.
‘Very Well-Connected’: Meet Cast Members of Montgomery College Summer Dinner Theatre’s ‘Side Show’: Part 3: Da’Von Moody.