Starring on Broadway

Quentin Darrington didn?t consider being involved with theater in middle school. He preferred to be an athlete.

But an elective drama class soon enlightened him to the world of acting.

Eight years later, Darrington has landed a leading role in Broadway National Tour?s Ragtime.

During his senior year at USF, Darrington will continue classes via Internet courses and will receive credit for his performances and experience when he will travel the United States from September through June 2002 playing the part of Coalhouse Walker Jr. in Ragtime.

The musical is centered around the turn of the 19th century and explores the changing world and issues of the time period.

?It?s about change and about love … about the transformation of people as one,? Darrington said.

Shown from the viewpoint of an upper-class white family, an immigrant Jewish family and a Harlem black family, Ragtime was sparked by the southern music of the era. The lives of the three families intertwine throughout the play as they see the world in changing times and revolt against society. Walker?s girlfriend has recently given birth to a baby boy, and the couple, who has been taken in by the mother of the upper-class family, agrees to marry one another. Trouble arises when Walker, his girlfriend, Sara, and child are confronted by a racist group of Irishmen. Walker leaves to alert the police, but after leaving his soon-to-be wife and his child in his Model-T car, the band of men destroy the car and it is ultimately rolled into the lake, killing Sara and the child. Walker, who was full of hope and passion at the beginning of the play, loses these characteristics.

?He?s trying to find retribution,? Darrington said. ?(But) things can?t be the way they were.?

Darrington has been acting professionally for the past four years at local venues such as the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center and Ruth Eckerd Hall.

?There?s no better feeling than being there on the stage,? Darrington said.

In fact, President Robert Freedman of Ruth Eckerd Hall helped Darrington by setting up the Ragtime audition. Freedman also flew Darrington to and from New York for auditions.

But before leaving for the audition, Darrington had other business. On June 30, Darrington married his girlfriend, Natasha. The day after the wedding, they left for their seven-day honeymoon. The morning after returning, Darrington left his new bride and flew to New York.

On July 9, his birthday, Darrington was told he had been chosen for the part of Coalhouse Walker Jr.

?It was definitely bittersweet,? Mrs. Darrington said. ?But I wouldn?t have let him miss this opportunity.?

Darrington said he experienced a humbling reaction when cast for Ragtime.

?I believe that everything that happens to me is a blessing,? he said. ?The more I gain, the more humble I get.?

Upon returning home after his audition, Darrington cleared his calendar and prior appointments in order to spend as much time as he could with his new bride. He also spent his last few weeks in Tampa researching his character and making phone calls to friends and family each day.

Lynne Dalton, secretary for Student Relations, has known Darrington for four years, and said he has always put his goals within an attainable reach.

?Quentin is a very mature, meticulous, motivated, articulate young man,? Dalton said.

Darrington began a three-week rehearsal Aug. 6 in New York. The opening performance will be Sept. 11 in Savannah, Ga. The performance will come to Clearwater April 13-15 at Ruth Eckerd Hall.

As a former Mr. USF, Darrington said USF has provided a major outlet for him to grow. He said his theater and acting classes gave him a background to build upon.

Mrs. Darrington said individuals such as Darrington?s professors have inspired him, along with going to see Broadway plays as they come to the Tampa Bay area.

?It?s the people that helps inspire him,? she said.

Although he is directly involved with acting at the moment, Darrington said Broadway was not his dream. His goal is to ultimately help children by combining his theatrical experiences with a learning curriculum.

?I want to be able to use everything I gain within this art to give back to youth,? he said. ?I believe theater is one of the greatest tools you can use to develop the life of a young person.?

Darrington wishes to create an organization similar to the Boys and Girls Club, but geared toward the arts instead.

But in the meantime, Darrington said he is relying on prayers and insists his current outcome did not come about because of him, but because of the people in his life.

?I?ll never stop giving,? he said. ?I have a tremendous debt to pay, although it?s not a debt with a burden.?

Contact Lindsay Foster at