Role: Lester Morgan
Project: ‘Make It So,’ an Equity showcase production

Leonard Dozier

Leonard Dozier

Maybe this column should be called Who Got the Parts? this week. In the last three months, actor Leonard Dozier has been cast in four projects he learned about from audition notices in Back Stage East.

Currently he is in rehearsal for the play Make It So, playing Lester Morgan, the elder brother in a family of stepchildren who are reunited at their father’s funeral; the Equity showcase will run Off-Off-Broadway June 16-July 13 at Theater for the New City. In March and April, Dozier played treatment counselor and former gang member Stan Harris in Periwinkle Theatre for Youth’s Halfway There, a touring show about drug and violence prevention for middle and high school students. And within hours after this interview, Dozier was cast in the new musical Lay Your Hands on Me and as Father Williams in Mind-Bending Pictures’ short film Tainted.

“Leonard landed the role because of his air of wisdom,” says Sharon Fogarty, director and co-producer of Make It So. “Whether he really has that in him or not is inconsequential as long as he can play it on stage. But Leonard really listened to his different scene partners in the audition, and this trust in the process of listening seemed to allow an honest dialogue and eventually showed us his vocal and acting range. Playwright Ed Miller and I both agreed that we’d like to have Leonard as our older brother, so we hired him.”

Dozier says he’s picky about the roles he auditions for or accepts. While some of his friends have criticized him for having a grandiose view of his career, he thinks the approach works for him. “Rather than just going through Back Stage and saying, ‘Okay, there are 5,000 auditions on Monday; let me attend all of them if I can,’ I get very selective about what I audition for,” Dozier says. “I think I improve my chances just by choosing roles that I can actually realistically see myself in.” He says this also ensures that he’s passionate about every role for which he auditions.

Magicians never reveal their secrets, but Dozier doesn’t hesitate to offer what he thinks is one of the main reasons for his recent success: a good monologue, from Twelve Angry Men. “I’ve been working on this one monologue for a year and a half,” he says. “I work on it three or four times a week. Even though I’ve done it at a thousand auditions, I still continue to hone it.”

Dozier studied theatre at Fordham University in New York but only recently returned to acting after taking time to pursue a singing career (his album of R&B and jazz will be released independently in May). He says his top goal right now, before getting an agent, is to join the unions. Even though he’s a singer, he rarely auditions for musicals; he prefers the reality of drama. Indeed, he calls his onstage acting style “cinematic.” “Film is supposed to be hyperrealistic,” he says, “and theatre is supposed to be this imaginary sort of medium in which people suspend their disbelief. But I see it differently. I think theatre can be reality.”

This “Who Got the Part?” column was published in the May 1-7, 2008 issue of Back Stage and online at BackStage.com.

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