We are so excited to welcome Gregory Brumfield back to Middleton to play Booker T. Washington in Ragtime! A professional opera singer by day, Gregory tells us about how he approaches playing Booker T, his strangest theatre experience, and what kind of books he likes to collect.
Are you a Madison native?
No, but I’ve lived and worked here for many years, in addition to attending and graduating from UW Madison with a BA in Theater.
Have you done a show with Middleton Players Theatre before?
Yes. My first show was Little Shop of Horrors as Audrey II, followed by a walk-on role in The Producers, and I played Javert in Les Miserables in 2014.
What is your favorite theatrical work?
I’m on the Hamilton bandwagon, I like Evita, and Ragtime has been a favorite. As a professional opera singer, I also do enjoy “Salome” by Strauss, and “Rigoletto” by Verdi.
What do you enjoy about Booker T. Washington? Are there any challenging aspects of his character to portray?
Booker T is very conflicted. He is furious that Coalhouse has upset the social fabric, and was afraid of the repercussions that might ensue for the African American community. At the same time, he is sympathetic to what drove Coalhouse to do his dangerous deeds.
What do you do when you're not performing/working in the theatre? Do you have a day job?
Opera singing is my professional job, which I balance with teaching when I don’t have a gig.
What would you like audiences to know about this show?
That it depicts early 20th century America in vivid detail.
What is your favorite theatre memory?
This is hard to determine. Perhaps singing the role of Jim in CTM’s Big River was a particular treat. The story of a young white boy and his runaway slave, that so many were familiar with through the written word, always moved audiences in special ways.
What is your strangest experience in theatre?
When I was performing in Mother Courage and Her Children at Indiana University Northwest in Gary, Indiana for a school matinee. The audience had to leave because it ran too long so we finished the performance to a totally empty house.
What is your favorite Broadway musical?
Les Miserables and West Side Story.
What musical theatre song do you shamelessly belt out?
“Music of the Night” from Phantom of the Opera.
What do you eat/drink before/after doing a show?
Tea with lemon and honey is my ritual. I eat something light beforehand, because no matter how many times I’m on stage, I’m always nervous.
BONUS: Give us a fun fact about yourself.
I’m a Marvel comic book collector and movie watcher. I have the complete Luke Cage Hero for Hire comic book series from the 1970s.
Don’t miss your chance to come see Gregory in our upcoming production of Ragtime! Performances are August 10-13 at the Middleton Performing Arts Center. Tickets can be purchased here.