“Cole Porter is a genius and I love performing in period pieces because the hairstyles were different, the singing styles were different, the clothing was different. They are like history lessons. I had to learn how the people of the time period spoke and how they moved back then. It’s good to be able to think outside the box,” said Thompson-Bolden who is performing “Anything Goes” for the third time in his acting career—he first encountered the musical in high school and went on to serve as a swing in a regional production while a musical theater major at Baldwin Wallace University in Ohio.
“Anything Goes” is his fifth touring production. In addition to “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” he previously performed in the world premiere of the “Nutty Professor” as well as Broadway tours of “Billy Elliot” and “The Color Purple” opposite Fantasia Barrino.
“With every role that I do, I give a bit of myself to the character. When I did ‘Billy Elliot’ I had to speak with a northern England accent and with the ‘Color Purple’ I understudied Harpo who was built like I am,” said Thompson-Bolden who began performing at the age of five. “I did the ‘Color Purple’ for three years and it was truly a highlight of my career. I haven’t done anything as powerful. It felt like we were ministering to people. We are like a family. We still keep in touch today. Fantasia gave my mom free tickets to her concert when she performed in Houston.
“It’s good when you’re on stage knowing that your performance touches someone’s life,” Thompson-Bolden continued. “The audience is your scene partner and I look to them for energy. I look for African-Americans in the audience too. You are representing your community and it makes me feel good that people enjoy what I do.”
That confidence is what aspiring actors and actresses need to make it in theater, he said.
“Keep going for your dreams. It’s a hard business and a hard knock life but if you are persistent, you’ll make it. There were no Blacks in “Billy Elliot.” Audition for everything because you never know. Half of the time you are cast by personality. People want to work with a good personality. Don’t let anyone dictate your career,” said Thompson-Bolden who enjoys perusing parks and museums and playing guitar when he isn’t performing.
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