By Andrew Davis
On Oct. 26, Deeply Rooted Productions ( DRP ) —which has been thrilling audiences for well over a decade with its breathtaking choreography and dancing—will present 'Celebrate Life!,' an evening that focuses on HIV/AIDS awareness. The event involves the performance of Classical Roots: An Evening in Three Acts and will, at one point, feature Noah's Arc actor Darryl Stephens reading text. ( 'Celebrate Life!' is just one part of a weekend-long series of events that will include an HIV/AIDS awareness event, a 'Gospel Night' and a professional women's brunch. )
'Celebrate Life!' takes place Oct. 26 at The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, 1306 S. Michigan, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 and $50 ( including the post-show reception ) ; 312-344-8300. For more info, see www.deeplyrootedproductions.org .
Windy City Times briefly chatted with Darryl Stephens about dancing, acting and visiting Chicago.
Windy City Times: I understand you studied dance in high school.
Darryl Stephens: I studied modern dance in high school and college. I learned techniques, for the most part.
WCT: I also understand that you're a big fan of music. What's on your iPod right now?
DS: Because iPod puts so much music at your fingertips, my music's always changing. Right now, I'm liking Justin Timberlake and Gnarls Barkley. India.Arie's album is also pretty interesting.
WCT: You've been in Chicago quite a bit lately. How'd you like the International House Music Festival?
DS: It was great. I got to meet Frankie Knuckles and David Morales. Frankie found out that I was going to be in town and got me to introduce Jocelyn Brown. However, it was odd that more people didn't show up.
WCT: And how did you like the Gay Games?
DS: I liked it a lot. I made a couple of appearances. I checked out volleyball at Navy Pier.
WCT: Let's talk a bit about Noah's Arc. Do you feel that most things are down pat or that the show is still feeling its way?
DS: We've worked out some kinks and we still have some kinks to work out. I don't know if any show is ever down pat; some things will work and some things won't. It's kind of a never-ending process.
WCT: Do you have a favorite episode?
DS: Um, not really. I did like the ones where we were dressed in drag and the one when Chance drove through the house.
WCT: I'm sure you meet people who think you're [ like the character ] Noah and even call you by that name. Does it ever become frustrating?
DS: No. I recognize that it's a good thing. It might become frustrating if, as I continue to work, people don't see me as anything else.
WCT: What was filming [ the 2001 movie ] Circuit like?
DS: I was also in a play at that point. I had to train my understudy while I was filming. It was a really stressful period—it was one of those 'when it rains, it pours' situations. I didn't have time to rehearse with other actors; I just came in, did what I did and left.
I didn't have a lot of time to invest in the motivation of that character. It was an interesting experience to be on the set and have all of this going on around me.
WCT: Keith Hamilton Cobb told us that you're 'quite good and quite easy to be attracted to.'
DS: It was great working with him [ on Noah's Arc ] . I was probably the actor who worked the closest with him. To have his level of experience on that set was such a gift. It made me take my own game to another level; I hope that we can work together again. Having him there really solidifed for me that we were moving forward.
WCT: Are there any perceived stereotypes about Hollywood that are not true?
DS: Well, Noah's Arc defies one stereotype, which is that you'll never see gay Black characters with really human characteristics—but, for the most part, it's pretty true. [ Laughs ] The idea of the casting couch is something I can't speak to, but I wouldn't say it doesn't exist. The stereotype of fewer roles for Black men is something that is true. I'm driving right now and I see a big advertisement for a show called The Class. They couldn't put one person of color in that cast? Most of the stereotypes, in my experience, have not been [ erased ] .