Ain’t Too Proud Star Derrick Baskin’s 10 Favorite Theatregoing Experiences

Favorite Things   Ain’t Too Proud Star Derrick Baskin’s 10 Favorite Theatregoing Experiences
 
The 2019 Tony nominee recalls performances by Norm Lewis, Chuck Cooper, Victoria Clark, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and more.
Derrick Baskin
Derrick Baskin Marc J. Franklin

In the Tony-nominated new musical Ain't Too Proud—The Life and Times of The Temptations, Derrick Baskin plays Otis Williams, the founder of the hit Motown singing group, a role that earned the actor a 2019 Tony nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical. Baskin, who received the San Francisco Theatre Critics Circle Award for his work in the Berkeley Rep world premiere of Ain't Too Proud, has also been seen on Broadway in Memphis, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and The Little Mermaid.

We recently asked the actor, who brings style, charm, and lush vocals to his current role, to pen a list of his most memorable theatregoing experiences; his choices follow.

Victoria Clark in The Light in the Piazza

Victoria Clark in <i>The Light in the Piazza</i>
Victoria Clark in The Light in the Piazza Joan Marcus

I saw her in 2005 after we had just met, and she saw me in the audience and then looked right through me. She's how I learned focus on stage.

Norm Lewis in The Phantom of the Opera

Norm Lewis in <i>The Phantom of the Opera</i>
Norm Lewis in The Phantom of the Opera Joan Marcus

I'd worked with him a couple of years prior, and to see him completely transform and stretch his voice in ways that I didn't know he could was inspiring.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Jesse Tyler Ferguson in <i>25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee </i>
Jesse Tyler Ferguson in 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Joan Marcus

Jesse is a comic genius and at the same time gave Coneybear such heart. Great sharing the stage with him every night.

LaChanze in The Color Purple

LaChanze in The Color Purple.
LaChanze in The Color Purple. Paul Kolnik

She taught me how to carry a show with grace, dignity, and heart!

Sarah Stiles in Tootsie

Tootsie_Broadway_Production Photos_2019_X_HR
Sarah Stiles and Andy Grotelueschen Matthew Murphy

I have no words. She is a damn funny, scene-stealing woman. Period.

Joshua Henry in Shuffle Along…

Shuffle Along HR05.jpg
Brandon Victor Dixon and Joshua Henry Julieta Cervantes

He gave me the courage to step outside of roles I wouldn't necessarily consider.

Nicolette Robinson in Waitress

WAITRESS_ROBINSON_0142_MHR_FINALcrop.jpg
Nicolette Robinson Matt Murphy

It's hard to step into the shoes of a Tony nominee. What Nicolette did with that role made you believe she originated the part. Such heart, such honesty, and the vocals..... my goodness.

Ephraim Sykes, Jeremy Pope, James Harkness, and Jawan Jackson in Ain't Too Proud

Ain't_Too_Proud_Broadway_Production_Photos_2019_HR
Ephraim Sykes, Jeremy Pope, James Harkness, and Jawan M. Jackson Matthew Murphy

Everyday these four gentlemen inspire me to be the best artist I can be. They embody style and grace. The stage can barely contain the talent these four gentlemen have.

Laurie Metcalf in A Doll’s House Part 2

A_Doll's_House_Part_2_Broadway_Production_Photos_2017_09_HR.jpg
Laurie Metcalf in A Doll's House, Part 2 Brigitte Lacombe

I've seen almost every Broadway play she's done, and she is a masterclass in each play. This performance being no different.

Chuck Cooper in Choir Boy

Choir_Boy_Broadway_Production_Photos_2018_HR
Jeremy Pope and Chuck Cooper Matthew Murphy

As a black performer, you look for other “mentors” you can fashion your career after. Chuck is one of those for me. He goes from musicals to plays effortlessly. And when he graces the stage you will never forget his performance. Always honest. Always grounded.

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