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April 23, 2008
One actor to watch

msh_Whitfield.jpg

While timing is key in most endeavors, having talent and a positive attitude doesn’t hurt.

Maurice Whitfield had it all going for him when he caught Scott Eckern’s eye at a California Musical Theatre audition. Eckern is the CMT artistic director, and when looking for Music Circus actors, he auditions over a thousand performers every year at calls in New York, Los Angeles and Sacramento.

Anyway, Whitfield is from Durham, N.C., but he’s been spending the past year in Sacramento as an intern at the B Street Theatre. He's the first B Street intern to move directly from its professional training program to the Music Circus.

Eckern says he was looking for a bass and liked what he heard from Whitfield. Whitfield’s audition piece was a contemporary song from composer-lyricist Michael John LaChiusa’s “The Wild Party.”

Eckern asked if the 23-year-old actor had anything with a more classic sound, so Whitfield then came back with “Ol' Man River,” which is about as classic as it gets. Though Eckern was looking primarily for a singer, he also asked Whitfield to try a couple of dance combinations.

“He was very game for every thing I threw at him,” Eckern says. “Plus, he’s a fine singer in the range I needed so I hired him.”

Eckern will have 16 ensemble members on hand this summer - eight men and eight women. Whitfield will work in “Sweeney Todd” and “Evita.”

This past year for B Street, he's also appeared in “Gold Country Tales” for B Street Theatre School Tours, and on the main stage, the world premiere of Buck Busfield’s “Make Someone Happy” (pictured).

He’ll also be seen in the upcoming intern showcase, “Seven Ten Split,” which will encompass seven 10-minute plays specifically written for the seven graduating interns. The show will run May 17–June 1.

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