After Saturday's Performance, What's Next for Liz Mikel?

On Saturday night, actress and singer Liz Mikel performed in concert at the Music Hall at Fair Park. The performance was part of a new series at the venue, and it was Michael Jenkins, President and Managing Director of Dallas Summer Musicals, who called Mikel while she was in New York and asked her to perform in the new Music Hall Variety Series.

He explains, "She was the perfect person to kick off a brand new event for our M Dining at the Music Hall space. We were so encouraged by the attendance and success of the concert that we plan to continue the series."

Jenkins wasn't the only one moved by Mikel's performance. When I asked her how it went, she shared this review that her mentor (and actor/director/writer) Akin Babatunde posted on Facebook:

"Just came back from seeing an absolutely amazingly stunning cabaret series at Dallas Fair Park Music Hall ... starring the 'Divine Miss Liz Mikel.' To say she was flawless is an understatement. The packed house was caught up in rapture as she effortlessly wrapped us up in the spirit and gift of her talents. My heart is beaming with a sense of pride and appreciation for the recognition she so rightly deserves. Broadway should fasten its seat belt for Liz is coming...So proud and wishing her continued success as she keep up the fantastic work in preparation for another phase of her artistic journey."

Attendees at Saturday night's show were treated to jazz and R&B classics and recent hits. Mikel was accompanied by Rick Rigsby on bass, Darwin Martin on piano and Ron Malvern on drums.

Mikel said of the performance, "I was surrounded with love from my friends on Saturday. I got to sing some of my favorite songs and give from my heart. The continued support of my community truly humbles me. Huge thanks to Michael Jenkins for allowing me to share my music and love in such a elegant space. I'm one lucky lady!"

Mikel also shared her future plans with us and reflected on her work thus far. Is she Broadway bound?

Is this the career you always imagined you would have? I was always an artist even though I didn't know it. I originally wanted to be a ballerina. That dream started when I was five. I started taking ballet, modern and jazz dance and kept at it into college. I changed my major to theater after my first killer semester.

What was the first show you were ever in? My first "role" in musical theater was in the sixth grade. I was the Fairy Godmother in Disney's version of Cinderella. Professionally, I played The Lady from the Road in Blues in the Night at Dallas Repertory Theater in 1990.

What are your all-time favorite roles? On stage, I loved playing Titania in Midsummer, The Ghost of Christmas Present in A Christmas Carol, Caroline in Caroline Or Change, Bessie Smith, and recently, I had a ball portraying Evilleen in The Wiz! On TV, playing Corrina Williams on Friday Night Lights is still close to my heart.

Are there any roles you have a hankering to do but haven't had the chance to yet? I would love to play any of Shakespeare's and August Wilson's leading ladies. And I've never had the chance to play Mama Morton in Chicago nor Motormouth Maybell in Hairspray. I have a feeling I'll get around to them one day, God willing.

What's up next for you after this show? Actually, I head to Shreveport this week to shoot the film Straight A's with Ryan Phillipe and Anna Paquin. After that I will be doing a couple of singing performances at Southside On Lamar and working on a CD. In between I will be packing to head to New York. I will be starring in Lysistrata Jones on Broadway in December.

What do you think of the Dallas theater scene? I think it's diverse and still growing. I am so proud of our community, and I feel we are recognized by artists and patrons from all over. We are a strong force that has national acclaim.

Do you think it's more of challenge to be an African American actress here in Dallas? I think it's challenging to be an artist period. I have not been hindered because of my race, at least not to my face. I have found more challenges because of my stature or my age. I was told once that I was, "too old for young and too young for old" and that once I aged a bit I would work non-stop. That has happened!

If someone forced you to choose, which would you give up: singing or acting? Who is this person and who put them in charge? Banish the thought! It's hard for me to choose because both singing and acting are as natural to me as breathing. If I had to choose, maybe singing. Then I would be forced to learn to play an instrument. I cannot exist without music! I would keep acting because I've been working so hard and long to be taken seriously as an actress. I'm still learning and growing. I'm not done yet.

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