Life / Careers

Canadian arts student gets major break in Broadway-bound musical

Sheridan College student David Lindo-Reid relishes working with his dance icon Graciela Daniele on Sousatzka.

David Lindo-Reid is a Sheridan College student who is currently performing in the ensemble of the Broadway-bound musical Sousatzka. The show runs through April 9 in Toronto.

courtesy Brayden Swire

David Lindo-Reid is a Sheridan College student who is currently performing in the ensemble of the Broadway-bound musical Sousatzka. The show runs through April 9 in Toronto.

When David Lindo-Reid was a university student in his native home of Kingston, Jamaica, his mom would joke: “Well, he majors in extra-curricular activities.”

That’s because his main focus at that time wasn’t his full-time academic stream, management, but rather his true passion in life — the performing arts.

“All I did was sing, act and dance,” laughs Lindo-Reid. The 25-year-old thinks back fondly on both receiving his management degree and The Company Dance Theatre where, in his spare time, he worked with artistic director Tony Wilson.

“He really took me under his wing. I was 18 and I just started dancing three hours a day, three to four days a week,” says Lindo-Reid, who is now in the ensemble for Sousatzka, a Broadway-bound musical currently playing in Toronto.

Sousatzka tells the story of a South African family who fled apartheid to settle in London, England, set in 1982. Producer Garth Drabinsky describes it as “a musical about God-given genius, the sacrificial journey of refugees and the ultimate redemption of the human spirit to begin again.” That theme should resonate with many Canadians, and it’s one Lindo-Reid wholeheartedly connects with.

He left Jamaica in 2013, marrying his Canadian partner on July 1 in New York City before moving to Canada at the end of that summer.

“I knew that I couldn’t foresee a future being an openly gay person in Jamaica,” says Lindo-Reid, recalling a traumatic high school experience during which he was cornered and threatened by other students when a rumour had spread about him being gay. He was only 14 at the time.

While he recognizes the LGBTQ community is making progress in that country now — the second pride parade was held in the country last year — there was another reason he wanted to move: his ambition to turn his musical theatre passion into a career. But it wasn’t easy.

After getting accepted into  the Sheridan College honours bachelor of musical theatre performance program, Lindo-Reid and his husband moved to Oakville, Ont. three days before orientation was to begin.

“We didn’t have a lot of money. We literally grabbed the first place that we found once we arrived, which was a crappy basement apartment,” he recalls.

Once he was able to work in Canada, he took on three jobs: “I was a server at Kelsey’s; I was housekeeping at the residence at school; and I was teaching dance part-time at one of my friend’s performance companies.”

The gruelling grind eventually paid off. When he found out Sousatzka was choreographed by one of his icons, Graciela Daniele, he knew he couldn’t pass up the chance to audition.

Now, he is set to graduate from Sheridan with his class, while working closely with the Tony-decorated cast and crew. He plays several characters in the show, including a South African anti-apartheid activist and a young punk Londoner.

“I don’t think there could have been a bigger show that I could have possibly done (while) not even out of school yet,” he says.

Although his schedule is still packed — he performs eight shows a week, has three days of rehearsal and goes to class on Mondays — it’s worth it as he works towards his long-term goals.

“I would love to go back to Jamaica at some point and really contribute as much as I can to young people who have a talent and want to get into musical theatre or performance.”

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