At 29, DaRon Lamar Williams has found success in show business. He’s played in theater Off Broadway, toured nationally with “Jesus Christ Superstar” and performed with Michael Jackson on video.
In Oregon Cabaret Theatre’s “The 25th Anniversary of the Putnam County Spelling Bee,” Williams plays Comfort Counselor Mitch Mahoney, who delivers hugs and juice boxes to the losers. We got together at Starbucks on Main Street one afternoon.
EH: Were you always interested in theater?
DW: I grew up watching “The Wiz.” As a little 4-year-old, I learned all the choreography and all the dialogue. I would cast kids from my grandma’s day care, and we would do it in the garage. I would make my grandma and her friends come to watch. Everyday it was a different scene from “The Wiz” or a dance number or something. I knew even then that, in some shape or form, I’d be doing this the rest of my life. I used community theater and community bands as my creative outlet. Then I decided to move to New York.
Theater has always been something that I knew I was going to do. It’s not of whether I was going to make it, it’s more like, “What’s next? It’s something that you can do and you should be doing. You just have to go get it.”
EH: Have you done other things at Oregon Cabaret Theatre?
LW: Three years ago I did “Five Guys Named Mo.” I played Eat Mo. It was very high-energy and there was a lot of dancing and singing in suits in the middle of the summer. By the time it was over, I had lost 35 pounds.
EH: In 10 years, what would you like your life to look like?
DW: Just like it looks now, except with more money. I love, love, love what I do. I once read a quote that said, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, there was never any question. I wanted to be Michael Jackson. I wanted to be Stevie Wonder. It wasn’t the money that really mattered. I wanted do what I loved.
Now my goals are a little bit different. Now it’s about more than survival. Now I want to be able to buy a house and go on vacation when I want. Now my goals are a little bit more than my artistic needs. In 10 years I will have gotten better at it and I will have discovered new things about myself. I may be in other areas of entertainment. Success is something that I want. I’m not going to make myself comfortable. I’m going to go and get it.
EH: Do you have a favorite actor?
DW: John Leguizamo. He’s a chameleon. He’s the actor that I want to be. You can put him in anything, and it works; he turns on. He is one of the people that I study.
EH: Are you interested in doing serious theater such as Shakespeare?
DW: In high school I did “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” I’ve always liked Shakespeare because it’s very musical. It is music. Professionally the opportunity hasn’t presented itself to me yet. I’m really gung ho about musicals lately because the idea of being on stage and getting to play and also sing and dance at the same time is like a dream come true. It’s all of the things I love in one.
“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” runs at 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Mondays with brunch matinees at 1 p.m. Sundays through Aug. 30 at Oregon Cabaret Theatre. For tickets and information call 488-2902.
Evalyn Hansen is a resident of Ashland. She has a bachelor's degree in dramatic arts from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master's degree from San Francisco State University. She studied acting at The American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco and is a founding member of San Francisco's Magic Theatre. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.