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August 27, 2014, 11:02 am

Actor relishes dream role in ‘Memphis’

“Memphis,” the show that won four Tony Awards, including 2010’s Best Musical, and is still blowing the roof off of Broadway, rocks into the Academy of Music from Jan. 17 to 22.

The show features a brand new Tony-winning score, and takes place in the smoky halls and underground clubs of the segregated 1950s, where a young white DJ named Huey Calhoun falls in love with everything he shouldn’t: rock and roll and an electrifying Black singer named Felicia. “Memphis” is an original story about the cultural revolution that erupted when his vision met her voice, and the music changed forever.

Starring in the role of Delray, Felicia’s big brother and owner of the Black nightclub where much of the action takes place, is Quentin Earl Darrington, a Lakeland, Fla., native who began his professional career with the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center’s resident repertory theater company.

“But long before that I was bitten by the acting bug,” says Darrington, a graduate of the University of South Florida. “I was in the seventh grade when I took an elective drama class. The next year, I got a role in ‘The Wiz,’ and that was it. I’ve never looked back since that day.”

Grateful he didn’t have to struggle the way many young actors do, Darrington got the opportunity to appear in “Ragtime,” his first national tour, right after graduation. That show was, and still is, one of his all-time favorites.

Since then Darrington has performed in numerous shows and concerts throughout the United States, Canada and Europe, amassing credits that include “Lost in the Stars,” “The Roar of the Greasepaint, The Smell of the Crowd,” “The Color Purple,” “The Lion King” and many others.

Realizing one of his dreams, Darrington made his Broadway debut in the 2009 Tony nominated revival of “Ragtime.” And now another dream, his role in “Memphis.”

He says, “This play is loosely based on a white DJ in Memphis who was a pioneer in bringing ‘Black music’ to ‘white audiences.’ He comes to the Black side of town, loves the music, and frequents the clubs. And as he continues to shake up the community, he also falls in love with Felicia.”

Playing the role of Delray hasn’t been that difficult for Darrington. “An actor has to find ways to tap into a character even if there is no real physical connection. In this case, we’re both Black Southern men, so I can easily transport my own history and growing up experience with his. I believe his truths and his outlook on life would be much like my own. I find lots of connections with the character and so I’m really enjoying playing the role.”

Along the way, Darrington consistently volunteers this time and talents, serving in nursing homes, hospitals, schools, universities, shelters and churches. He says the last ten years have been a complete joy, and he hopes to continue in his chosen field.

For the future, Darrington says that because he’s already played his dream role, he sees his future as two-fold: “One is that I definitely want to continue acting, but I also want to begin teaching on the university level. I honor this craft so much, and have so much respect for what we do as actors — both on and off the stage — that I want to help be part of the system that helps create young, passionate artists. In my experience, a lot of great artists, and many who are playing at the craft, are unfocused. It would be great work lifting and serving people, and I want to be part of the team that helps create young artists to enter the profession in the best ways possible.“

For times and ticket information, call (215) 731-3333.