An actor, singer, dancer and teacher, Maurice Emmanuel Parent has wanted to be on stage ever since thinking, “I can do that!” as a mesmerized fourth-grader watching a talent show at his Maryland Catholic school. We caught up with the Boston theater veteran before he chases impossible dreams as Cervantes/Don Quixote in New Repertory Theatre’s Man of La Mancha, directed by Antonio Ocampo-Guzman at the Mosesian Center for the Arts on Dec. 1-24.
So much of the play is about resilience and hope. Does that resonate today? Antonio taps into that in this production, this idea of being so in the midst of all these horrors and atrocities and trying to leave the world better than you found it. That’s ultimately what drives me personally. … My impossible dream is that in the midst of all the horrors of the world, Maurice in some small way can make something better.
Do you have a dream role? Quixote was one. Evita, I just want to be in it. I would be Ensemble, Second from the Left for Evita. [Laughs.] I would be anything that anyone would want me to be in that show, I just love it so much. … I love certain classics like Les Mis; I would do anything in that show as well.
Why did you decide to co-found the Front Porch Arts Collective, which celebrates stories that explore the African diaspora? Every major city has a black theater company as a part of their theater scene, and we wanted to up the access and representation for people of color on stage and in the audiences, and at the same time make sure that everybody of all races and walks of life are welcome. The greater purpose of showing ethnically specific theater is to help people see the world through other vantage points that they may not have access to. That’s learning. That’s growing.