“Perform as if your last meal depended on it,” Desmond Newson said. That piece of advice from his wise brother was a driving force that landed Newson a coveted spot in the national tour of the Tony-award winning Broadway musical, Hamilton.
Newson’s introduction to theatre came early when he auditioned for his high school’s musical production of Oklahoma!. He fell in love with the creative process and became fascinated with the ability to transform into someone else. “I felt powerful and, for the first time, confident,” Newson said.
As a student at UCF, he said he was inspired by theatre faculty members Mark Brotherton and Jim Brown because of their passion for the arts and their strong direction and guidance. Upon graduating in 2005 with his BFA in theatre, he was offered the role of Simba for Hong Kong Disney’s Festival of the Lion King. Since then, Newson has performed in Motown the Musical, Fly, In the Heights, Hairspray and other productions.
His new role in the national tour of Hamilton did not come easily. The audition process spanned over four months. After first auditioning in Los Angeles, Newson was then flown to New York for final callbacks with the creative team. Now in the midst of rehearsals in preparation for the tour, Newson’s life will be temporarily uprooted from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Both excited and nervous, Newson is looking forward to this new experience as an opportunity to grow as an artist and performer.
Newson strives to handle his experiences in life with grace and dignity – something that was instilled in him by his mother. He encourages UCF theatre students to be patient with themselves and their personal journey. “Growth is gradual. If you truly love your craft, then work hard and stay the course. Discover those unique qualities that set you apart,” Newson said.
Whether he’s in Los Angeles, New York City or back in Florida, he finds ways to reconnect with his fellow UCF Knights and is inspired by their stories and journeys. “I am proud to be a UCF Knight because UCF is finally gaining the recognition and exposure it has always deserved,” he said.
The national tour of Hamilton will begin in San Francisco in March, followed by a 21-week run in Los Angeles, with more cities follow, including Orlando, for the 2018-2019 season.