Shawn Holmes will play Coalhouse Walker Jr. in our upcoming production of Ragtime. This will be Shawn’s first show with us! Find out which show he previously auditioned for, what part of Coalhouse he loves to portray, and what MTV show he participated in.
Are you a Madison native?
No, I'm not. I was born and raised in Milwaukee. When I come to Madison/Middleton, it's usually for sports, my band, or friends.
Have you done a show with Middleton Players Theatre before?
No, this is my first show. I actually was contacted about Full Monty, but it didn't work out. But Ragtime was mentioned and I was more than willing to audition.
What is your favorite kind of theatrical work?
Musicals, but I do appreciate operas.
What do you enjoy about portraying Coalhouse Walker Jr? Are there any aspects of Coalhouse that are particularly challenging to portray?
His passion for music (which is very easy for me to do since I share the same feelings). It's clear that Coalhouse loves Sarah and their child, but people forget he loves music, especially the piano, as well. I like the fact that the first time the audience encounters Coalhouse in this production is him playing the piano at the top of the show.
What do you do when you're not performing/working in the theatre? Do you have a day job?
SLEEP!!! Besides that, I'm an EMT in an ER at a hospital in downtown Milwaukee. I am also one of the lead singers for the band North Coast Orchestra.
What would you like audiences to know about this show?
This show was relevant when it made its debut. This show is relevant now. If you take the three main leads of the show and see what they want, it's pretty much the same: A fair opportunity to live a successful life with loved ones. Whether it's coming out of the shadows from a spouse, traveling to a new country to start a better life for your family, or beating oppression based on the color of your skin, I think the storyline still rings true today.
What is your favorite theatre memory?
I would say when I had the chance to play Jacob in La Cage aux Folles at Skylight Theatre in Milwaukee last winter. It was a VERY fun role for to me play. I was surrounded by my theatre friends and got to share the stage with an actor I look up to, my unofficial theatre mentor, Skylight’s artistic director Ray Jivoff. From that show, I was nominated for the first ever Footlights Performing Arts Awards for the greater Milwaukee and Waukesha area, and won Best Supporting Performance by a Male in a Musical.
What is your strangest experience in theatre?
I did the musical Hair a few years back. At the end of Act 1, the shows calls for the cast to get naked on stage. I didn't know that going into it and it wasn't forced upon any of the actors to get naked. I think the idea of being nude on stage with 15 of your friends was weird for me. BUT, the production team made us all comfortable by showing how the lighting and stage was going to be … by getting naked themselves on stage! Needless to say, we were all on board after that experience.
BONUS: Give us a fun fact about yourself.
Here’s a few: I’ve been playing piano for over 25 years, I am 100% Jamaican, I appeared on the MTV show Fear Factor, and I have never broken a bone but have ruptured my right achilles tendon.
Don’t miss your chance to come see Shawn in our upcoming production of Ragtime! Performances are August 10-13 at the Middleton Performing Arts Center. Tickets can be purchased here.