Temple alumni reflect on emotional Broadway performances

Many Temple alumni have launched their careers in production after performing in Broadway musicals.

Bryan Terrell Clarke, a 2003 theater alumnus, played the character of George Washington in Broadway production of "Hamilton." | BRYAN TERRELL CLARKE / COURTESY

Bryan Terrell Clark’s mother knew her son wanted to be an actor before he could even talk.

“She said I would run around the television in front of my favorite shows and just bounce,” said Clark, a 2003 theater alumnus.

Fast-forward to 2017, Clark was cast as George Washington in “Hamilton”, one of Broadway’s most acclaimed productions. He’s just one of the many Temple alumni who have performed in successful Broadway productions after graduation.

Clark played the role until October 2018 and enjoyed the critical acclaim drawn by the show, he said. 

“I had a really amazing time,” he said. “Being in the show is like being in a boy band in the 90s. You get to the stage where the fans of the show are next level.”

When Clark sang “One Last Time” in his first performance, he was moved because his character stepped down from the presidency at the same time Barack Obama gave his last presidential speech in 2017, he said.

“At that night, I knew I was stepping into something pretty special,” Clark said. “The show is a cultural phenomenon in a way that a lot of other Broadway shows aren’t and I’m really grateful to be a part of that journey.”

Prior to his performance in Hamilton, Clark performed in “Motown: The Musical” as Marvin Gaye. The show was emotional for him because he had lost his cousin the week of rehearsals before his first performance, he said.

“Every now and then something that you’re working on will show up at a time in your life where you really, really need it and Motown was that for me,” Clark said.

Kevin Del Aguila starred in Broadway’s “Frozen” as Oaken. He started his career as a young character actor but wanted to see if he could try something different for the role.

“I heard people tell me ‘You’re going to have a great career in twenty years when you grow into your character actor,’” said Del Aguila, a 1994 acting MFA alumnus. “But I kept asking what am I going to do to find work for the next twenty years in the meantime.”

Del Aguila worked in a children’s theater company in New York and collaborated with Robert Lopez, a songwriter for “Frozen” the movie. He worked with Lopez to create the song “Fixer Upper” which was featured in the movie where he played one of the singing trolls.

As a result of the connections he made during the movie’s production, Del Aguila was asked to come in for a reading of the show and was part of it’s Broadway adaptation.

Del Aguila also won two Emmy Awards for writing “Peg + Cat”, a children’s television show on PBS.

“I couldn’t believe that we won,” he said. “It was very weird to have a giant, golden, lightning-winged woman sitting on your living room table. Awards like these give you a little validation that someone out there cares.” 

David Ingram, an associate professor of theater studies, taught and worked with Clark and Del Aguila. 

“[Clark’s] work is just really excellent,” he said. “I was fortunate to see him as Washington in Hamilton and he was outstanding.”

Going forward, Clark wants to prioritize creating content by writing, directing or producing.

Del Aguila now writes for children’s television shows such as “Blues Clues” and “Clifford the Big Red Dog,” but wants to write shows for adults one day.

“I feel like I’m doing nothing but entertaining the children of the world, so it would be a nice change to be able to write for adults again once in awhile,” he said.

Although Ingram didn’t teach Del Aguila, he acted with him in “Rendezvous with Reality,” a 1995 play at the Wilma Theater. He’s impressed with how successful and versatile Del Aguila is in his career.

“He’s gone into so many areas of theater, film, and entertainment,” Ingram said. “He can act, he can write, he can produce. He’s just incredibly talented.” 

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