TDPS Alumna Enjoys Lincoln Center Debut

Photos courtesy of Erica Philpot

School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies alumna Erica Philpot (B.A. Theatre Performance ’13) made her Lincoln Center debut this month in “Tales from the Silk Cotton Tree: Inner Sanctum.”

Jazz at Lincoln Center’s “Tales from the Silk Cotton Tree” series celebrates world culture through the tradition of Folkloric storytelling through music and theatre. In “Inner Sanctum,” Philpot sang backup vocals for Tony Award nominee Tsidii Le Loka, known for originating the role of Rafiki in “The Lion King” on Broadway.

“She’s such a joy to work with, very humble, very grounded,” Philpot said of Le Loka. “She has become a friend, a mentor to me.

 When Philpot auditioned for the part, the performance was proposed as a concert workshop, but she had no idea where it would be held. She remembers the day Le Loka told her singers the performance would be held at the Frederick P. Rose Theater at Lincoln Center.

“Being able to perform in such a venue where legends have performed was such an honor,” Philpot said. However, Le Loka was sure to stress to her singers that art is about more than a prestigious venue. “It’s about the music; it’s about the story that we have to share.”

To share that story, Philpot learned songs in different languages, including South African click languages. She still vividly remembers the day she was first exposed to “clicking” in Ashley Smith’s voice dialect class at the University of Maryland.

“I found it very endearing that that was almost a full cycle,” Philpot said. “Here I am, having heard it and having the respect to learn it, I’m about to perform it.”

Philpot said that her college experiences, from performing in theatre productions to singing in the University Chorale, have benefited her in her postgraduate career.

“I love that my education at Maryland has given me the opportunity to become a well-rounded artist,” Philpot said.

As for her future plans, “I can leave it as ‘the best is yet to come,’” Philpot said. “I’m very excited to be pursuing my dreams.”