The Color Purple at CenterStage. photo: CenterStage at JCC
Interview by Keith Waits
Entire contents are copyright © 2020 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
Tymika Prince has been working in local theatre for several years, with a knockout voice that has placed her to great effect in musicals. In my most recent review of her work in Hair, I noted that, “It is no surprise that Tymika Prince is stunning in the iconic opening, “Aquarius”, and “Walking in Space”, which points out what an inevitable secret weapon she is whenever she is cast.
1. What is the next performance you are/were scheduled to do?
Right now I would be in rehearsals for Mama Mia with a May 7-24 run. Hopefully if things resume soon and Music Theatre International (MTI) allows us to move our production we’ll be performing it at the end of the summer.
2. Do you have a non-theatre job, and if so, are you able to work right now?
I’ve been working in childcare for 9 years now and have been a personal nanny for almost 6 years. As the kids have grown up and started to go to school longer hours and more days per week I’ve a little less. But because of the current lockdown and pandemic they are out of school. That means I’m back to being a fulltime nanny (40+hours per week) and now a homeschool teacher for 3 kids.
3. When did you first know you wanted to be on stage?
I’ve been singing as long as I can remember. I even remember entering the junior Star Search competition when I was 8 years old. During my freshman year of high school I saw the advanced show choir performing selections from Footloose and Jekyll & Hyde and from that moment on I was hooked. I started joining and performing every singing group for the rest of my high school days. But it wasn’t until 2007 that I got cast in my first show every. It was Jason Robert Brown’s Parade at CenterStage.
4. What is your education or training?
Because I didn’t know musical theatre was a field that I could pursue I didn’t go to YPAS. In fact I went to their rival Male High School. While there I did have a acting with a Louisville theatre vet, Tad Chitwood. After high school, training was all independent study for me. I remember going to the main library downtown and checking out tons of books so I could be completely immersed in theatre. Singing was the main focus for me. So I’ve taken many lessons with Jennifer Diamond and most recently Amanda Huddleston Clark.
5. What is your favorite role?
It’s hard to pick just one. Asking about roles I’ve portrayed triggers the issue of typecasting and stereotypes. While I’ve enjoyed roles such as Sarah (Ragtime) or Lorrell (Dreamgirls) I’m most proud of the roles that buck against the social norms of theatre casting such as The Baker’s Wife (Into the Woods), Cathy (Last Five Years Concert) and Esmeralda (Hunchback of Notre Dame). I am grateful to be a forerunner in changing the way shows are cast in Greater Louisville.
6. What has been your most difficult role or performance?
My most difficult role to date has to be Celie in The Color Purple hands down. Having a role like that put in your lap is no easy feat. Though I had lots of training by that point, my voice was NOT ready to sing Celie. All of her songs are big “belty” songs except the ballad and my voice loves living in the mix range. Between singing and screaming my voice was exhausted and I would have to vocal rest for the rest of the night. It adds a new level of stress when you know the musical is different from the critically acclaimed movie and that 80-90% of your audiences will have only seen the movie. Of course, a lot of people were upset about the changes, but what can you do. Lastly, Celie is a battered woman. Jumping into those shoes for a few months takes a toll on your mental health. Generally, I just wasn’t ready for that role all around.
7. What roles on your bucket list?
My goodness this list is long. I would love to be Felicia Farrell (Memphis), Cathy (The Last Five Years), Aida (AIDA), Elphaba (Wicked). I would also like to revisit some roles from past shows like Sarah(Ragtime) or an Urchin( Little Shop of Horrors).
8. Besides Louisville, what other places have you worked?
I do almost all of my shows in Louisville, but every once and awhile I’ll cross the bridge and do a show at Derby Dinner Playhouse. I also did a production of Hair in Hazelhurst, Wisconsin.
9. What is different about working in Louisville?
I’ve always performed here, but I can imagine that if I were traveling the country, I would miss the comforts and familiarity of my hometown. Exploring new cities can be fun, but it can also cause some stress.
10. What music is on your quarantine playlist?
Currently I have several playlists three for work and one for me. My work playlists are everything from kids songs to contemporary music. With the kids, we listen to music every day. Each child has a playlist and I let them create it and have them saved on my phone. My personal playlist is a mix of musicals and pop music.
11. What book is on your bedside table?
I have 2 books on my nightstand The Meditation Bible by Madonna Gauding and a book of crossword puzzles. I try to do at least one crossword puzzle a day.
12. What is the first thing you will do when quarantine ends?
A lot of things are out of my control like when my next show will happen. But what I can make happen is hanging out with my family and friends to celebrate the ending of the pandemic and missed birthdays.
Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being the host of LVA’s Artebella On The Radio on WXOX 97.1 FM / ARTxFM.com, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in LEO Weekly, Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is Managing Editor for Arts-Louisville.com.