Chicago Theatre Artist Darryl Maximilian Robinson Provides Notes On His Early Stage Training And Roles During The First Decade Of His 49-Year-Long Acting Career!
HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL...FOR REAL!: Talented young actors MARK GIZEL as NATHAN DETROIT, KATHY KLAGES as MISS ADELAIDE, Future 1993 Broadway Best Featured Actress In A Musical Tony Award Winner TONYA PINKINS as MISS ADELAIDE, Future 1997 Chicago Joseph Jefferson Citation Outstanding Actor In A Principal Role In A Play Award Winner DARRYL MAXIMILIAN ROBINSON as NATHAN DETROIT, KAREN CORBOY as MISS ADELAIDE and JEFF SEFTON as NATHAN DETROIT all pose for a REHEARSAL PUBLICITY PHOTO for THE 1977 CHICAGOLAND HIGH SCHOOL THEATRICAL TROUPE multicultural all-student cast revival production of FRANK LOESSER'S "GUYS AND DOLLS" directed by NICK JASON and J. J. STAMM at THE WHITNEY M. YOUNG MAGNET HIGH SCHOOL PERFORMING ARTS CENTER in The Windy City. 1977 CHICAGOLAND HIGH SCHOOL THEATRICAL TROUPE "GUYS AND DOLLS" Publicity Photo by IRVING M. STEIN.
EXCALIBER SHAKESPEARE COMPANY OF CHICAGO FOUNDER DARRYL MAXIMILIAN ROBINSON SHARES NOTES ON THE BEGINNING OF HIS JOURNEY TO BECOME A STAGE ACTOR AND PLAY DIRECTOR!
Like many aspiring stage performers, Darryl Maximilan Robinson started acting before live audiences when he was quite young.
He made his first fully-rehearsed appearance onstage at the age of 13 in the role of Mr. Jones in the December 1973 Robert H. Lawrence Upper Grade Center junior high school faculty member written production of "A Black Christmas Carol". Sadly, today, this West Side of Chicago educational facility no longer exists.
As a 14-year-old freshman student at Albert G. Lane Technical High School, he appeared as Detective Sam Spaced in future critically-praised, off-Broadway musical theatre / parody writer / performer / improv comedy director/ composer/ lyricist/ and wiz Rick Crom's 1975 high school musical comedy revue "The Maltese Wabeeno".
After transferring later that year as a sophomore student to the Whitney M. Young Magnet High School for the Performing Arts, by mid-fall, he appeared as Old Man Warner in the school's 1975 staging of Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery".
By 1976, the eager and energetic Robinson was playing his first leading role in a musical, and what a fantastic role it was.
As a guest student actor of The Drama Dept. of Josephinum High School For Girls ( where he previously appeared in 1974 as Frank and The Father in a stage adaptation of Daniel Keyes' "Flowers For Algernon" and in early 1976 as Motel Kamzoil the Jewish-Russian tailor in Bock and Harnick's acclaimed musical "Fiddler On The Roof" ) in the Wicker Park area of Chicago, Darryl Maximilian Robinson appeared as Professor Henry Higgins opposite Sandra Gonzalez as Eliza Dolittle, David Allan Clarke as Alfred P. Dolittle, Robert Dubiel as Col. Hugh Pickering, Amy Munoz as Mrs. Higgins and very talented actor / singer / dancer and future television star Don Franklin ( of ABC's "The Young Riders" and NBC's "Sea Quest" ) as Freddy Ensford-Hill in skilled and caring Director Sister Mary Henry Cornille's December 1976 20th Anniversary revival staging of Lerner and Lowe's "My Fair Lady".
The multicultural, student performed staging featured fine vocal musical direction by Lee Hervey, charming choreogaphy by Donna Vittorio and a dynamic and tight full orchestra conducted by the wonderful Maestro John C. Cina ( a master music educator and seasoned conductor of "Oh, What A Lovely War" and "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum" on Broadway! ) of The Lane Tech High School Music Theatre!
As a youth growing up on the West Side of Chicago during the early 1970s, works of William Shakespeare and The History of American Musical Theatre proved to be two of Mr. Robinson's greatest interests.
Listening to numerous Original Broadway Cast Recordings (including Richard Burton in "Camelot", Rex Harrison in "My Fair Lady" and Robert Preston in "The Music Man" ) of classic musicals inspired him and gave him the impetus and confidence to audition for and receive 4 years of fine training in musical theatre performance with the non-profit, multicultural ensemble for young Windy City perfomers known as The Chicagoland High School Theatrical Troupe.
During the mid-to-late 1970s, under the skilled guidance and instruction of Chicago Board of Education Instructors and other private professionally trained, theatre teachers including J.J. Stamm, Errol Perlman, Lena McLin, Nick Jason, Irving Stein, and Gerald H. Bailey, Mr. Robinson developed his song, dance and on-stage comedy skills with the multiracial ensemble of The Chicagoland High School Theatrical Troupe.
His roles during his years with Chicagoland ( 1975-1979 ) included Ambrose Kemper in "Hello Dolly!", The Professor in "South Pacific", Nathan Detroit in "Guys and Dolls" ( opposite young and talented future Tony Award Winner Tonya Pinkins as Miss Adelaide ), Duane Fox in "Applause", Henry Albertson in "The Fantasticks", Micheal in "I Do! I Do!", Bud Frump in "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying" and Mr. Applegate ( The Devil ) in "Damn Yankees".
The training that Mr. Robinson received from the directors and instructors of The Troupe ( particularly from the highly-talented J.J. Stamm ) helped to prepare him for the challenges that would lie ahead when he would audition for hundreds of future productions at live theatres around the country.
Mr. Robinson's first full-time, paying, professional acting job occurred in early 1980, while he was serving as a resident actor / instructor withThe Aspiring Artists ProductionCompany, Inc.,located on east 71st Street on the Windy City's South Side.
Funded by a CETA ( The Comprehensive Employment Training Act ) Contract during the last generous months of The Jimmy Carter Administration's attempt to supplement public and community education by bringing professional performing and visual artists into schools, cultural centers, seniors homes and facilities for the economically and culturally disadvantaged.
Mr. Robinson utilized his modest $750.00 per month salary to build his portfolio and have photos and his resume professionally enhanced.
AspiringArtistswas led by the skilled producer/ composer / lyricist and musicianCedric Gayfrom whom the young Mr. Robinson learned much as he utilized his talents to bring theatre to audiences who often had never even seen a live play or concert performance before. Director Cedric Gay utilized Mr. Robinson ( due to his effective and dramatic stage voice ) to frequently serve as A Narrator and Emcee at numerous public performances.
And, during this time of government-funded acting work, Darryl Maximilian Robinson attended several auditions, preparing carefuly for each desired role, seeking to expand his resume.
1980 was also the year that Darryl Maximilian Robinson earned small salaries for playing such dramatic roles as The Angry Man in talented Director / Producer Ray Hayman's staging of G. B. Gilford's "The Jury Room" mounted at Chicago's McCormick Inn;the acclaimed African-American poet and novelist Langston Hughes in Chicago Producer / Director / Playwright Marcus Nelson's "The Shakespeare of Harlem" presented at The New Concept Theatre in the Englewood neighborhood of the Windy City;The Old Man ( opposite the truly talented and gifted and dynamic youngAfrican-American actor, director, playwright and future Artistic Director of Chicago's ETA Creative Arts Foundation Theatre Runako Jahi as Eman ) in a highly-effective revival staging of acclaimed West African playwright Wole Soyinka's "The Strong Breed" performed at the west side of Chicago's historic Austin Town Hall Cultural Center and Park;Eric Biring in skilledDirector Johnny Lee Davenport's Chicago City Theatre revival of J. B. Priestley's"An Inspector Calls"; and the part of A Featured Performer in language-focusedDirector Joseph Ehrenberg's critically-praised Chicago City Theatre dramatic reading of the works of an acclaimed Welsh literary master "An Evening With Dylan Thomas".
Both CCT productions were presented in the group's charming and intimate chamber theater housed in The Historic Fine Arts Building at 410 South Michigan Avenue in The Windy City.
Arriving from his hometown of Chicago in the summer of 1981 to make his northern Indiana professional stage debut in his first full season of summer stock, 20-year-old, future Excaliber Shakespeare Company of Chicago Founder and Joseph Jefferson Citation Award Winner Darryl Maximilian Robinson ( who had appeared earlier in the year as the Russian ballet instructor Boris Kolenkhov in The Act IV Theatre of Forest Park, IL. revival of George S. Kaufman's and Moss Hart's "You Can't Take It With You" and the title role in The Puppet Place Theatre of Chicago revival of Gilbert & Sullivan's "The Mikado" ) would win over Hoosier audiences and critics.
And he pleased so many theatre fans with his performance as the wily, lovable, king of pickpockets, Fagin in "Oliver!" ( his very best part in a gallery of six roles which also included Joe in "Show Boat", the tap-dancing First Gangster in Cole Porter's "Kiss Me, Kate", El Gallo in Tom Jones' And Harvey Schmidt's "The Fantasticks", Persian peddler Ali Hakim in Rodgers' And Hammerstein's "Oklahoma!" and tale-spinning cowboy Kit Carson in William Saroyan's 1939 Pultizer Prize-winning comedy "The Time Of Your Life" ), that he would become the first theatre artist at EHP to receive an acting honor: The 1981 Fort Wayne News-Sentinel Reviewer's Recognition Award as Outstanding Thespian of the Season from veteran theatre critic Sharon Little.
The EHP 1981 revival of "Oliver!" also featured respected theatre educator and talented vocalist Myrona Delaney ( aka Myrona Lou Laws ) as Nancy, skilled young singer-actress Temple Schulz as Oliver, Donald Lee Hahn as Bill Sykes, Tom McSweeney as The Artful Dodger, Tom Lamb as Mr. Bumble, Susan Sams as Mrs. Corney, talented and skilled tenor and future Arts Radio Personality Opera Joe McKesson as Mr. Brownlow and the highly-gifted future New York stage and television actor T. Gregg McClain as Charlie Bates.
Of all the skilled directors Chicago-born and stage-trained actor Darryl Maximilian Robinson worked with after his training with The Chicagoland High School Theatrical Troupe ( led by the great J. J. Stamm ), Dr. Jeffrey P. Koep, Artistic Director of The Enchanted Hills Playhouse, proved to be one of his favorites and one of his best! Koep ( a former Chairman of The Speech and Communications Dept. at The University of Indiana - South Bend and a future Dean of The College of Fine Arts at The University of Nevada - Las Vegas ) proved to be a true master of professional summer stock!
And the gracious and wonderful Producing Director of Enchanted Hills Playhouse of Syracuse, Indiana, the late and much-missed theatre presenter, Jill Stover, would contract Mr. Robinson to return for an encore season at EHP in 1984.
When Mr. Robinson had his encore season atEHPin 1984, he played a wonderful gallery of character roles including:Colonel PickeringinMy Fair Lady,NaziErnst LudwiginCabaret,MordredinCamelot,Captain HookinPeter Panas well as Jewish RefugeeDr. Jan DussellinThe Diary of Anne Frank.
But when he playedThe King of SiaminRodgers' and Hammerstein'sThe King and Iopposite the lovely, talented and gifted young singer-actressElizabeth Lee Tayloras Mrs. Anna Leonowens, it was the inspired direction of"Von Koep"that gave Mr. Robinson the motivation he needed to give a performance that pleased critics and audiences alike.
Working at EHP was a highlight of Darryl Maximilian Robinson's first 10 years as a stage actor.
During the 1980s, Darryl Maximilian Robinson would appear onstage at various theatres throughout the great state of Indiana, and acquired an affection for its responsive audiences and ( through his personal interactions with his fellow performers and technicians ) it's fine people.
" ANOTHER SPOT northern Indiana travelers like to visit is the Enchanted Hills Playhouse at Lake Wawasee. Those who have seen plays there during the past two seasons may remember Darryl Maximilian Robinson, the Chicago-based actor, who has impressed audiences and critics alike. Robinson, a tall, slim, black actor, has shown great intensity and stage presence in such plays as The King and I, Oliver, Peter Pan; My Fair Lady and Camelot. I saw him in Camelot last summer and remember raving about him in a subsequent review of the play.
He is also experienced in many Shakespearean productions, having toured with New York's National Shakespeare Company. The Bard's work is what he will be doing this summer as a performing member of the Indianapolis Shakespeare Festival.
The festival features outdoor productions in Garfield Park. Its season opens in July and will include The Merry Wives of Windsor and Hamlet. Robinson will also be featured as an actor / director / instructor at the Indianapolis Children's Museum, a post similar to one he held last year at Enchanted Hills. Keep an eye on Mr. Robinson; he may have a great career ahead. " -- Larry Shores, Our Neighborhood, The Star Press of Muncie, Indiana, June 21, 1985.
Passionate about The Classics, Mr. Robinson made hisShakespeareandebut asDon Johnin DirectorPhillipF. Nardulli's1980 revival of the bard'sMuch AdoAboutNothingatThe West Wind Theatrein River Forest, IL.
He would further expand his Shakespearean resume in such roles asStephanoin Director / Composer / LyricistDoug Post's1981Jeff Recommended,Illustrated Theatre Productions'rock musical revival ofThe TempestatThe Leo Lerner TheatreinChicago; OswaldandThe King of Francein Obie Award-winning DirectorGene Frankel'sstaging ofKingLear,Touchstonein DirectorJames Tripp'smounting ofAsYou Like ItandPuckandPhilostratein future Tony Award-nominated DirectorSusan Lawless'space-age staging ofA Midsummer Night's Dreamall performed while on the1982 20thAnniversaryNational Shakespeare Company Tour ofNew York; andHoratioinHamlet, KingOberonandDuke TheseusinAMidsummerNight'sDreamandMaster FordinTheMerry Wives of Windsorallperformed outdoors with the1985 Indianapolis Shakespeare Festival.
One of the most rewarding Shakespearean roles Darryl Maximilian Robinson has had the priviledge of playing wasthe titleroleofOthello, The Moorof Venicein a March 1984 revival withThe Stageplayers of NortheasternIllinois University of Chicagothat was effectively and handsomely directed by the inspired,Dr. James Barushok, a long-time professor of theatre atthe F-Wing of UNI.
A technical highlight of that 1984 production was the highly-talented SetDesignerSilvanoBurgoni'swhite-columned, revolving set.
And the sight of future West Coast stand-up comedianAnthony Griffinas the worthy Montano IN TIGHTS?...PRICELESS!
Darryl MaximilianRobinson would also receive critical praise when ( at the tender age of 23 ) he became documented as the very first African- American performer of note to play the leading role of the doomed Lord Chancellor of England, Sir Thomas Morein skilled DirectorJohn
Grassilli'sOctober 1984University Players'revival production ofRobert Bolt'sA Man For AllSeasonsatThe Benton Hall Theatre of The University of Missouri-St. Louis ( UMSL ).
It was the roles and the training and the experiences during the early years ( The First Decade ) of Darryl Maximilian Robinson's stage career that would help shape his choices as a stage actor, and later, play director and theatre producer and writer for decades to come.