Tony-nominated musicals feature numerous Hampton Roads natives

Hampton Roads at the Tonys
Posted at 1:01 PM, Jun 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-12 19:06:59-04

Each year, the Tony Awards celebrate the brightest and best in the world of theater...and once again, Hampton Roads will be well-represented by those in attendance.

Rashidra Scott ("Company") and Tavon Olds-Sample ("MJ: The Musical") perform in productions nominated for nine and ten awards, respectively, but a big part of their journeys to Broadway started on Granby Street at the Governor's School for the Arts.

"I had never taken a singing lesson, an acting class or a dancing class so I was coming in unknown and fresh," Olds-Sample tells News 3 of that time.

Now 20, he plays Michael Jackson from his time in the Jackson 5 to the Thriller days. He's joined in the cast by Lamont Walker II, another Virginia Beach native.

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Tavon Olds-Sample performing in a production at the Governor's School for the Arts. He's now performing in "MJ: The Musical" on Broadway as Michael Jackson.

Olds-Sample says he'll be in attendance at the Tonys; his first time at the ceremony.

"It's surreal," he said.

Also from Virginia Beach, 2022 marks Scott's fourth time at the Tonys. This year, she's performing with her castmates, including the legendary Patti Lupone.

"To see her energy, to see her playfulness, to see how she manages to keep every show fresh," she told News 3 of her experience working with the Broadway superstar.

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Rashidra Scott with fellow Governor's School of the Arts and Hurrah Players alumnus, Tiffany Howard, at the 2011 Tonys.

Scott got her start in the Hampton Roads arts scene early in life — joining Norfolk's Hurrah Players when she was still a child.

"My first solo was singing 'Tomorrow' from Annie, complete with a red, curly wig," said Scott.

Hugh Copeland, the founder of Hurrah Players, says Scott caught his attention early on.

"Rashidra was a powerhouse. She was with us 14 years," he recalled.

Over 37 years, the Hurrah Players organization has fostered numerous homegrown talents, including Chesapeake native Adrienne Warren, who won the Tony for Best Lead Actress in a Musical in 2021. Warren is presenting at this year's show.

Copeland says the secret to having so much talent come from one area starts with strong community support, but it certainly doesn't stop there.

"Training. A lot of people don't realize that," he said, before imitating some who come into his program. "'I want to be on stage, I can sing, dance and act.' No, no. Do you want to train?"