Let’s play had the opportunity to talk to the supremely talented Kenny Ingram on his new adventure and his thoughts of coming right back to the theatre where his professional career started at the Marriott Theatre in suburban Lincolnshire in “Hello Dolly,” “Chorus Line,” and the Scarecrow in “The Wiz in 1987!”
Ingram has been gone for 15 years making like a cheetah eight times a week on Broadway in “The Lion King.” Now he’s back dancing to his own beat in rhythm in life in Chicago, starring as Big Daddy Brubeck in “Sweet Charity.” This was a “swinging role” made famous by Ingram’s idol– the original song and dance man himself Sammy Davis Jr.
LP: Kenny talk to us about how you got started in acting and your long stint on Broadway starring in The Lion King.
KI: I was handed a Dance Scholarship at Lou Conte Dance Studio so Chicago was a huge influence on my career. I was cast in “The Lion King” in The Original Chicago Company and Toured the West Coast including my hometown, San Jose, California.
LP: Tell us about your remarkable new project the American musical comedy-drama “Sweet Charity” at Marriott Theatre.
KI: It is a true Blessing from God to be back at The Marriott Theatre in “Sweet Charity” Playing Daddy Brubeck! I received my Equity Card from The Marriott Theatre in “A Chorus Line” in 1985. I remember being interviewed by The Legendary Earl Calloway from The Chicago Defender back then. Charity Hope Valentine is Hopeful and Full of Faith to Find Love because of her Big Heart!
LP: What inspired you to take on the role of the Daddy Brubeck, the mysterious guru of the street church The Rhythm of Life in this Tony Award Winning Broadway Smash Hit?
KI: I remember Sammy Davis Jr. playing the role in the movie! I had a chance to perform for Sammy Davis at Navy Pier back in the late 90’s and have always been in awe of him; he was the original “Song and Dance Man!”
LP: How did you reprise the swinging role made famous by Sammy Davis Jr.?
KI: Well, Mr. Davis is such an incredible performer. I honor him respectably so, and also bring Kenny to the table!
LP: Why is it important that people understand no matter their circumstances they must stay optimistic throughout their journey in life?
KI: Faith is the key to staying optimistic. As my pastor says in Harlem at The First Corinthians Baptist Church, “ Keep your hand on the plow, once you look back, you go off course” (Paster Mike Waldron)
LP: What is the take away that you would like the audience to remember about “Sweet Charity,” the phenomenal play that was written by Neil Simon?
KI: Laugh hard, love hard!
LP: So what’s next for the song and dance man while you’re back in Chicago?
KI: I am doing a concert reading of my one man musical show “Shane Boy “ at The Ruth Page Center Monday, October 22 at 8 pm. Call: 312-337-6543 Proceeds Benefits Boys Dance Scholarship.