Michael Stiggers Jr.

His doo-wop Broadway debut and theatre career magic moment after CSU

By Candace Morrow
Intro photo by Kermit Mercado

He finger combs his slicked pompadour wig back with natural swagger and adjusts his classic cut suit with superstar flair. CSU alumnus and actor Michael Stiggers Jr., 31, manifests 1950s and ’60s pop culture and music in groovy ease.

“I’m playing one of the legendary singers from The Drifters in Grammy and Tony award-winning musical ‘Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,’” said Stiggers — CSU’s first-ever graduate to perform on Broadway. “I’ve been doing a lot of research for this part. The Drifters were smooth, cool entertainers who moved effortlessly.”

Stiggers made his Broadway debut Aug. 10 at Stephen Sondheim Theatre on New York’s 43rd Street. The equally talented singer and dancer from West Point, Georgia, dedicated summer 2017 to perfecting his soulful harmony vocals and light-footed dance moves as a member of the doo-wop R&B group of the Swinging Sixties.

“I actually auditioned for the part twice before I got the gig,” said the 2009 theatre education alumnus, who got the call back while performing in Atlanta. “It just goes to show that staying connected with people and continuing to work hard counts. Ever since then, it’s been a pure adrenaline rush for this part.”

The triple-threat performer also credits his alma mater for teaching him the value of persistence to chase his Big Apple performing dreams.

“I grew up in the South but always knew I wanted to get out and go into theatre after high school,” said Stiggers. “CSU provided me with the foundation I needed to learn about theatre and how to navigate that world. My extensive classroom training also molded me to become a drama teacher and still have something meaningful to fall back on.”

CSU has produced both off-Broadway and regionally successful performers; however, Stiggers has achieved a milestone for the Department of Theatre.

“Our department has become more visible in recent years,” said department chair Larry Dooley. “Having graduates involved in regional theatres and off-Broadway indicates the success of our students and the strengths of the department. Now with a CSU theatre graduate performing on Broadway, we are confident others will follow. We will continue to celebrate these success stories.”

Stiggers knew he belonged on the stage from age 5, taking creative cue from his mother, a musical director. “Right after earning my bachelor’s degree at CSU, I was fortunate to first work with the historical Springer Opera House on many onstage productions in Columbus, which was critical to my training and growth as an artist,” said Stiggers.

His local experiences helped set the stage for traveling the globe by land and sea with diverse talent and theatre companies. “I truly explored the industry with adventure and a lot of mistakes,” he said. “All of it is what prepared me for Broadway.”

Stiggers broke his career achievement news on Instagram @yungstiggy June 16 and has been pounding the pavement in New York’s bustling Broadway business to date. “My new normal is auditioning every day in the city,” he said, “and also working as a ‘drifter’ in this awesome Carole King jukebox musical.”

The international Broadway musical chronicles King’s comprehensive catalog as arguably the most celebrated and iconic singer/songwriter of all time. Carole and then-husband Gerry Goffin wrote dozens of chart hits, including 1962 “Up on the Roof” by The Drifters.

“I’m enjoying the journey and going back in this particular time of her life,” Stiggers said. “I do want those pursuing this type of career to know I did fall into dark places, and at times lost my confidence to get here. I never stopped dreaming wild through the good and bad times, though. That’s the difference.”

MORE ABOUT MICHAEL | MichaelStiggers.com

Nickelodeon: During spring 2017, Stiggers received the opportunity to showcase his voiceover range when he recorded a reggae-style Mother’s Day tribute for national TV network Nickelodeon in New York.

iLLA: A Hip Hop Musical: During summer 2017, Stiggers earned the leading role of a classically trained ballet dancer named Prince who has high hopes of becoming a rapper in this original, New York-based production.