In the Tony-nominated new musical Ain't Too Proud—The Life and Times of The Temptations, Derrick Baskin plays Otis Williams, the founder of the hit Motown singing group, a role that earned the actor a 2019 Tony nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical. Baskin, who received the San Francisco Theatre Critics Circle Award for his work in the Berkeley Rep world premiere of Ain't Too Proud, has also been seen on Broadway in Memphis, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and The Little Mermaid.
We recently asked the actor, who brings style, charm, and lush vocals to his current role, to pen a list of his most memorable theatregoing experiences; his choices follow.
Victoria Clark in The Light in the Piazza
I saw her in 2005 after we had just met, and she saw me in the audience and then looked right through me. She's how I learned focus on stage.
Norm Lewis in The Phantom of the Opera
I'd worked with him a couple of years prior, and to see him completely transform and stretch his voice in ways that I didn't know he could was inspiring.
Jesse Tyler Ferguson in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Jesse is a comic genius and at the same time gave Coneybear such heart. Great sharing the stage with him every night.
LaChanze in The Color Purple
She taught me how to carry a show with grace, dignity, and heart!
Sarah Stiles in Tootsie
I have no words. She is a damn funny, scene-stealing woman. Period.
Joshua Henry in Shuffle Along…
He gave me the courage to step outside of roles I wouldn't necessarily consider.
Nicolette Robinson in Waitress
It's hard to step into the shoes of a Tony nominee. What Nicolette did with that role made you believe she originated the part. Such heart, such honesty, and the vocals..... my goodness.
Ephraim Sykes, Jeremy Pope, James Harkness, and Jawan Jackson in Ain't Too Proud
Everyday these four gentlemen inspire me to be the best artist I can be. They embody style and grace. The stage can barely contain the talent these four gentlemen have.
Laurie Metcalf in A Doll’s House Part 2
I've seen almost every Broadway play she's done, and she is a masterclass in each play. This performance being no different.
Chuck Cooper in Choir Boy
As a black performer, you look for other “mentors” you can fashion your career after. Chuck is one of those for me. He goes from musicals to plays effortlessly. And when he graces the stage you will never forget his performance. Always honest. Always grounded.