NEW YORK — A local musician made his Broadway debut this year.
Luke Williams, a 2008 Wilmington High School graduate, started playing piano for the Broadway production of “Tootsie” (based on the 1982 film) on June 1.
“This is a big step for me,” said Williams, who called “Tootsie” one of the funniest things he’s seen in years.
Williams had served as a sub musician for the pianist (keyboard 1) and associated musical director and conductor Andy Peterson, who is now performing in Australia.
Williams’ love for musical theatre started when saw a Wilmington High School and Wilmington College co-production of “Seussical.” The aspirations continued during high school while taking part in musical productions such as “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown,” being in various school bands, and performing in the high school’s show choir, The Wilmingtones.
“Doing these things made me realize music and theater were things that I needed to have in my life,” said Williams.
After graduating high school, he went on to get his bachelor’s degree in piano performance at Miami University and his master’s at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where he got to perform with big band musicians which broadcast on BBC radio at Christmas.
It was there where he worked on his pop and rock music skills needed for “Tootsie.”
“It was a great experience, and working with musicians from the UK and Europe was great,” Williams said. “In Scotland, it was more pop and rock, which helped me since my undergrad was in classical.”
After returning to the U.S., he spent time in Ohio performing in various places and “grounding” himself a bit.
The next big step happened in 2014 when he joined the national tour of “Anything Goes.”
“Traveling across the country was great and being able to play in a different city was simply amazing,” he said.
After the tour, he made his way to New York City, where he started doing freelance work including music arraigning and giving lessons.
In the spring, he got word that he was chosen to be Peterson’s sub musician and Williams received his music.
He had three weeks to learn that music.
“So, my first time playing it with the rest of the band was the night of my first performances,” he said. “It was the scariest three hours of my life.”
But the intense first night didn’t scare him away, and he’s loved every performance since, especially performing with the top-notch musicians and actors.
Williams isn’t the only Wilmington resident to be involved with a Tony-winning show.
Andre De Shields, who attended Wilmington College, recently won Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his performances in “Hadestown” another show Williams said he enjoys.
To anyone who has similar aspirations, Williams has some advice.
“The two most important things are: you need to be willing to work hard, and be very kind.
“You have to be a person that people want to be around and hire for their projects,” he added.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574