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Chatting with Sister Act "TJ" Charles Barksdale

Charles Barksdale as Sister Act's "TJ"
Charles Barksdale as Sister Act's "TJ"
Fifth Third Bank Broadway

Chatting with performing artists is always an enjoyable experience. Charles Barksdale will appear in Sister Act, at the Fox Theatre, April 23-28. He performed in several locations Nationwide and made his Canadian Concert debut in November of 2011. He studied Vocal Performance and Music Education at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He has performed on the Operatic and Musical Theatre stages and is currently an avid performer on both. Some of his favorite Operatic roles include Eisenstein (Die Fledermaus), Peter (Hansel & Gretel), and the title role in The Marriage of Figaro.

Denise Harper: Tell me about yourself and your background.

Charles Barksdale: I am a Texan!!! Born and raised in San Antonio. I studied the arts starting at around 7 years old when my grandmother began teaching me piano. I started playing the viola at age 10 and continued that through college. I really started singing and dancing in High School at my performing arts magnet school and was finding success in both instrumental and vocal music. I chose to go to college for vocal because it was more fun, and I figured I'd have more opportunities to dance!

DH: Tell me about your character in Sister Act.

CB: I play "TJ". He is one of the thugs that is chasing after Deloris however, he is just so gosh darn lovable. He is the Nephew of Curtis, Deloris' married, bad guy, murderer boyfriend and he is a giant kid a heart.

DH: Is your character like you in any way?

CB: In a lot of ways yes. He believes in the good in people but also knows what he has to do to survive. I like to think that "TJ" is stuck at 12 years old mentally and just really likes to laugh and have fun, while still trying to learn and grow.

DH: When was the first time you discovered the arts? You know, that ah ha moment.

CB: Christmastime growing up. My little sister and I would make up little songs and dances and perform them for all of our Aunts and Uncles. My brain has just been geared towards music and dance from a very early age. I had always listened to all types of music and just found myself always wanting to know more; how it was produced and how "I could do that too!" (My childhood motto.)

DH: When did you discover your passion for theater and dance?

CB: The summer before my freshman year at the performing arts magnet school, the musical Cinderella with Brandy, Whitney Houston, and Whoopi Goldberg come on television and I was smitten!!!! I loved the music and characters and the grandness of it all and I must have watched it 2 dozen times that summer. When I got to the High School, the big musical that year was... CINDERELLA! I just knew I had to audition. I did, and the dance, theatre, and choir directors all approached me about being in their classes. So, I joined all of them in addition to playing in the Orchestra, and I was hooked in stage performing ever since.

DH: Have you done any other productions?

CB: Oh yes. Opera, Off Broadway, and many regional productions including my favorite performance, Jimmy Early in Dreamgirls. Sister Act is my First National Tour and I plan to do more. I love touring! I'm also a Director, Choreographer, Music Director and a Voice teacher. Interesting fact, I was the last person to work with Sherman Hemsley before his death. I directed and performed alongside him in Ain't Misbehavin' in San Antonio in February of 2012. I love Opera and plan on continuing a career in both. Musical Theatre feeds my senses and Opera feeds my soul. :)

DH: Tell me about a typical day in the life of Charles on the road.

CB: I typically don't have much to do but do the show in the evenings so my day time during the week is wide open. I'll usually explore whatever city we are in and work on my Instagram photo map a bit. I like taking photos. I also started writing songs and let the different cities inspire me. I'll do a concert of the songs I've written in NYC in September and call it "Songs From the Road" or something like that.

DH: There are so many young people who aspire to be where you are. Do you have any words for young people who aspire to become a part of the theatre?

CB: Absolutely. Learn all you can! From teachers, T.V., movies, plays and musicals, from YouTube.... knowing all that you can will only help you feel confident and prepared. Confidence and Preparation is Key. Lots of people say this business or industry is all about luck and in a way this is true, but luck has a way of favoring the prepared. Be Prepared, and be Good. Not only at just what you do, but also to everyone around you.

DH: Thanks for the interview Charles. I know the show is going to be great!

Thanks for interviewing me. I can't wait to get to Atlanta and see all of my favorite Cousins. Please feel free to view my website.

SISTER ACT will play April 23- 28 at the Fox Theatre. Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 6:30 p.m. with matinees Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. For more information contact the fabulous Fox Theatre Box Office.

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