When you peruse Derek Keeling's impressive list of stage credits, you'll notice an interesting coincidence. Possessing a wonderful singing voice combined with charismatic matinee-idol looks that are punctuated with an old-school swagger, it's no wonder that he's developed quite a love affair with shows that turn the clocks back to the musically-rich decades of the 20th Century.
Best known to national audiences for placing in the top 3 of NBC's Grease: You're The One That I Want—a reality TV competition that sought out new talent for a new Broadway revival of GREASE—Keeling went on to play the infamous Danny Zuko in the summer of 2008, marking his Broadway debut (in a role, by the way, he has also portrayed "nearly 1,000" times in various professional productions across the U.S., Canada and Europe).
Sprinkled in between, he's been an L.A.-area favorite playing the "Fonz" in the HAPPY DAYS stage musical, Chad in Musical Theatre West's ALL SHOOK UP, plus roles in THE WEDDING SINGER and LIFE COULD BE A DREAM. And along with well-received concerts with Cal Philharmonic and at Feinstein's NYC, he has also won the Midtown International Theatre Festival Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical for his work on the off-Broadway production of CONNECT-DISCONNECT.
Fast forward to the fall of 2011, and this time Keeling has stepped into the shoes of another well-known musical icon: Johnny Cash. Taking on the coveted role of The Man in Black for the first national tour of the Tony Award-winning MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET—finally landing in Southern California at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa from April 24 through May 6—Keeling will be appearing shoulder-to-shoulder with Lee Ferris, Martin Kaye, and Cody Slaughter who will be embodying three other real-life musical legends: Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley, respectively.
Right before the show rocks out the O.C., BroadwayWorld subjected Keeling to a few silly, rapid-fire questions.
Subject: Derek Keeling
Hometown: Charleston, WV
What real-life musical icon would you not mind portraying next?
Tim McGRaw. Now that I've been playing Johnny Cash for a while, I have developed a taste for country music. I feel like Tim McGRaw is kind of like a modern day Johnny Cash with the way he tells stories with his music.
What is your must-do, pre-show ritual?
A nap is a must for me before this show. It's really the only way that I can relax my voice enough to hit all of the low notes of Johnny Cash. It's kind of the opposite of what I've had to do for every other show. Usually I would do about an hour of cardio to wake my body up before shows.
In ONE WORD, describe what goes through your head right before you step out on stage:
What's YOUR favorite musical show and/or cast album of all time?
Original Cast of RAGTIME. I love Bryan Stokes Mitchell.
What’s the song that you like belting in the shower or when you're all alone in the car?
I mainly sing Gospel songs in the shower, and songs from RAGTIME! I know, I'll never really get to sing that in a show.
What scares you the most?
Forgetting lines or lyrics.
What is your one guilty pleasure?
What do you like to do on your day off?
I like to get away and see the sights of whatever city we happen to be in. If there is a beach nearby, I'll find it! I use days off as a time to scope out the new city and find the best places to eat.
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Michael Lawrence Quintos is a quiet, mild-mannered Art Director by day. But as night falls, he regularly performs on various stages everywhere as a Counter-Tenor soloist, actor, and dancer for The Men Alive Chorus since 2002. He's sung everything from Broadway, Jazz, R&B, Classical, Gospel and Pop. His musical theater roots started early, performing in various school musical productions and a couple of nationally-televised programs. The performing bug eventually brought him a brief championship run in the Philippines' version of "Star Search" before moving to Las Vegas at age 11. College brought him out to Orange County, California, where he earned a BFA in Graphic Design and a BA in Film Screenwriting. He has spent several years as a designer and art director for various entertainment company clients, while spending his free time watching or performing in shows. |
Follow Michael on Twitter at: twitter.com/cre8iveMLQ.
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