Broadway vet portrays hunger and hope

Charles Holt looks you directly in your eyes when he talks to you. “I call myself contagious,” he says with a smile. Indeed, he is. Holt, a broadway veteran, performed “Black Boy,” a one-man show based on Richard Wright’s autobiography of the same name, Oct. 4 at Ira Allen Chapel. “Black Boy,” going into its sixth touring season, was a phenomenal way to express inspiration, gratitude, hope and healing to the country after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, Holt said. An all-star athlete who never aspired to be a performing artist, Holt has had starring roles in “The Lion King,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Sex in the City,” “Law and Order: Criminal Intent,” and was even the first African American to play Rocky in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” “I love the stage. I love creating characters,” Holt said. “The stage is magical; it’s fresh, it’s uncut. It’s heaven.” Growing up in the South, there were many parallels between the experiences of Holt and Wright. Holt saw the same racial discrimination and segregation in the 1980s that Wright experienced in the 1920s and 1930s. Although “very subtle and not as overt…it was still cutting because you thought ‘we’re removed from it,” Holt says. “It’s the ugliest thing you’ve ever seen.” “Black Boy” displays the themes of poverty, segregation, violence, discrimination, hope, and most importantly, hunger-both physical and mental. Through Holt’s profound portrayal of the innocence of childhood, the violence of adolescence, and the constant theme of hunger, “Black Boy” proves that “it’s not about color” but simply a “lack of human communication.” It’s the universal message of “American hunger” which Holt stresses. “Black Boy” serves “as a universal vehicle for inspiration and empowerment. Its power lies within its ability to touch the human spirit with the theme of hunger; a hunger for having our own voice and self-expression,” Holt said. For students, Holt hopes “Black Boy” will “cause critical thinking and a willingness to take on the possibility of oneness in the world. “Life is to be lived through the eyes of openness and willingness, not the eyes of fear,” Holt said. “But this is just my voice.”