Deonte Warren, M.M. ’21: Broadening Broadway’s horizons
Things were rolling for Deonte Warren. A standby in the Broadway production of “Aladdin” for three-plus years, he had performed in roughly 150 shows as The Genie, The Sultan, and Babkak. He even got to sing on “Good Morning America.”
Then COVID-19 struck, closing the curtain on the New York theatre scene last March. So Mr. Warren put The Genie back in the bottle and returned to school as one of twelve students in this year’s Master of Music cohort at Carthage.
Introduced to the program by a mutual friend he shares with Carthage professor Jeremy Mossman, he found it to be a perfect fit. Devoting his master’s thesis to diversity in the field, he wants to work with singers “who are normally ignored” because they embrace non-classical styles like R&B, pop, or jazz.
“The industry never wanted that from me,” said Mr. Warren, who was advised to focus exclusively on gospel music. “We have more to offer as artists of color, and we need to make sure the industry stops pigeonholing people into being one thing.”
Awarded a Diversity Fellowship, Mr. Warren teaches the Music Theatre Boot Camp for Carthage freshmen when he’s not plugging away at his own coursework. After completing the graduate program in July, he intends to teach at the college level while operating his private studio and performing.
Insistent that “the gatekeepers in the industry can’t all look the same way,” he’d also like to help diversify behind-the-scenes roles in direction, choreography, and technical production. The Carthage music theatre courses address stereotypes head-on, Mr. Warren adds, so he’s convinced the inclusive focus is “not just lip service.”
Although he’s had memorable gigs with theme parks, cruise lines, and international tours for “Dreamgirls” and “Sister Act,” Mr. Warren isn’t bitter that the pandemic yanked him away from that performance career. Things are falling into place for him at Carthage.
“I’m getting the exact info I wanted and then some,” he says.