Some of Edred Utomi's fondest memories of growing up revolve around two musicals: "The Sound of Music," and the South African-made "Ipi Ntombi," a huge favorite of his dad's.
Long before he dreamed of being an actor himself, Utomi, a son of Nigerian immigrants, absorbed the sights and sounds of those shows on video. And now he's the one making noise live onstage, as a top San Diego-trained actor with Broadway in his sights.
The University of San Diego graduate has had star turns in shows from San Diego Rep's "My Mañana Comes" to San Diego Musical Theatre's just-closed "Pump Up the Volume," with more to come.
But not much more, at least in San Diego: Utomi is pulling up stakes for New York, where he'll be resettled in 2018 with hopes of launching a stage career there.
For Utomi, though, San Diego has been an actor's paradise.
"The past four years have been incredible in San Diego," he says. "The San Diego theater community is really something special. Every theater I've worked at is committed to putting on good theater.
"And it's a family - such a welcoming community, such a thriving community.
"I look back to the first show that I did here, and how nervous I was to be playing the role and how out of place I felt.
"And now it's home to me. It's been very helpful and instrumental in my life and my successes."
Some more thoughts from Utomi on his craft and on his time in town:
UNION-TRIBUNE: What do you love most about your craft?
EDRED UTOMI: I love how freeing it is. I love how an actor can experience such a vast range of emotion and deal with so many different circumstances in such a short amount of time. Whether I'm onstage or off, I'm always drawn to how transcendent theater can be.
Lastly, I love how collaborative it is. It's always thrilling to work on a new show and embark on a journey with new creative people each time. It keeps it fresh.
Besides theater, name an artistic or cultural endeavor that inspires you here in San Diego.
I'm very inspired by music, so all the different festivals and concerts that come through San Diego are a constant source of inspiration.
I feel like my life is set to music. For example, when walking to the theater on a beautiful sunny day in San Diego, I automatically hear "Walking on Sunshine" by Katrina and the Waves!
Is there an artistic or cultural event that you're looking forward to this season?
I'm super excited to go to December Nights this year! I've been wanting to go for years now but I was always too busy or out of town. This year I'm absolutely going to go.
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