Duncanville High School has produced a number of champion athletes, with many of them going on to find fame as professional sports stars in football, basketball, and baseball. But it’s not that often we have an opportunity to interview a DHS graduate like Will Mann, who followed his dream to become a Broadway performer. Mann is back in North Texas, onstage at Winspear Opera House in the national touring production of hit Broadway musical “Hadestown” through Jan. 30.
A 2001 graduate of Duncanville HS, Mann said he was encouraged by his high school choir teacher, Maria Green, to continue his vocal training. After several years at UNT in Denton, he transferred to Oklahoma State University to concentrate on his voice and musical theatre training. He now lives and works in NYC, where he has become a sought-after singer/dancer/actor.
The “Hadestown” program lists Will Mann as the understudy for both Hades and Hermes for the national touring production. His Broadway credits include playing Mike in the 2019 Tony Award-winning revival of “Oklahoma!” and Bobby in “Memphis.” Mann also toured with “Memphis,” “Billy Elliot,” and many others. He appeared in the film “Ricki and the Flash” starring Meryl Streep.
Interview With Will Mann
Q: Did you have other mentors besides Ms. Green while you were at DHS?
A: “After I graduated high school, I played Jesus Godspeed at Cedar Valley Community College. Sam Germany directed and gave me a lot of encouragement. Sam helped me to believe I could make a living doing this.”
Q: You mentioned hosting a digital door since casts can’t interact with fans like you did before the pandemic. How can fans interact with you now?
A. My TikTok is pretty active, and thousands of fans engage with me in the comments of those. I also read and respond to all private messages on my Instagram. I can be found at @UUillMann on both.
Q: How many family members are still in the Dallas area, and are any of them in southwest Dallas cities?
A: My family is mostly in DeSoto and Cedar Hill. All three of my sisters live there. My niece and her children live in north Dallas.
Q: Please name a few of the shows you performed in for Dallas Theater Center and Casa Manana.
A: I did the world premiere of Bella: An American Tall Tale by Kirsten Childs at DTC, brilliantly directed by Robert O’Hara. I also did DamnYankees starring Richard Kind at Casa.
Q: What kind of dog do you have and is it difficult to find places together on tour since some hotels don’t allow pets?
A: She’s a bully terrier with super short legs. She’s not fully on the road with me. She stays with her grandparents year-round. While I’m in Dallas, she’s at the hotel with me.
Q: Were any of your previous national tours presented by Dallas Summer Musicals?
A: I think maybe all of them were: Wonderful Town, Memphis, Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Q: Please expand on your comments about understudies being the backbone of Broadway.
A: Eight shows a week is hard for anyone. Without understudies, there’d be cancellations daily, ESPECIALLY now amidst a pandemic.
Q: What has been the most challenging role of your career, and what role would you love to play in the future?
A: Physically, I think doing my current job in Hadestown may be the most challenging. Everyone is working hard, but the Workers are putting their bodies through it.
My dream role hasn’t been written yet. When it comes, I hope I immediately recognize it for what it truly is and enjoy it from top to bottom.
Don’t miss this chance to see Will Mann and the other fine performers in the national touring company of “Hadestown.” This joyful, exuberant musical gives us a glimpse of “the world as it could be.”
“Hadestown” runs through Jan. 30 at Winspear Opera House, presented by Dallas Summer Musicals.