"Delray is a black man living at the height of the Civil Rights era," Darrington said. "He owns a popular club and has the respect of the community at a time of great racial divide. The story shows how he uses music and his family to play a big part in bringing the people together. My favorite number is 'Love Will Stand When All Else Fails' because its haunting melody establishes the mood that helps him make tough decisions."
This is Darrington's second appearance in a major production at the Kennedy Center. He played the role of Coalhouse Walker Jr. in the 2009 Tony-nominated revival of "Ragtime" that moved directly to Broadway. He credits his high school teacher Paul Hughes with first seeing a spark in him. The role of the lion in "The Wiz" was the catalyst. Taking him under his wing, Hughes cast him in many other school productions and began shaping his skills.
|Where: Kennedy Center Opera House, 2700 F St. NW|
|When: Through July 1|
|Info: $39 to $115; 202-467-4600; 800-444-1324; kennedy-center.org|
During high school, his training involved frequent performances at the local Harrison Center for the Visual and Performing Arts, Lakeland Community Theatre and Theatre Winter Haven. A scholarship to the University of South Florida to major in theater firmed his commitment to the stage. After graduating, he became a featured artist in shows at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center (now the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts), and he soon was appearing in regional and national tours.
Darrington's credits include national tours of "The Color Purple" and "The Lion King" and an Off-Broadway production of "Lost in the Stars." He is especially thankful for being behind the scenes during the preparation of "The Lion King" to observe the development of puppetry and craftsmanship that had never been done before on stage.
While developing his talents, Darrington devoted many hours to entertaining youngsters, the elderly and the underprivileged in his home community. He continues to welcome these kinds of opportunities to touch the lives of others and to counsel and heal when off the stage.
"I like to help people who have dreams," he said. "The story of 'Memphis' is about having a dream and never giving up on your passions. We live in a society that treats wealth and objects as valuable. But once all these are taken away, what do you have left? Are you still important? Or are you without any value when you lose the things others admire?"