T.R. Knight preps for his musical debut


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Now that T.R. Knight has left ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” he’s decided to do something completely different. The 36-year-old actor is making his professional singing debut in Center Theatre Group’s revival of “Parade,” based on the true story of Leo Frank, a Jewish factory manager accused of the 1913 rape and murder of an Atlanta girl. The show -- which has a score by Jason Robert Brown and a book by Alfred Uhry -- opens Sunday at the Mark Taper Forum.

Knight has a long history on the stage. He made his first appearance when he was 5 at the Guthrie Theater in his native Minneapolis. He later worked in the Guthrie company and on and off-Broadway, earning a Drama Desk nomination for a 2003 production of Anto Howard’s “Scattergood.”


His musical resume, however, is much thinner. He last sang in a show in college (playing Squire Dap in “Camelot”). So why is Knight taking the plunge -- especially when he knows all eyes are on him, this being his first gig since he hung up his scrubs in June?

“It was a huge challenge,” he says. “It felt like a good thing to do. A good scary thing.”

To prepare for the production, Knight has studied with vocal coach Eric Vetro, whose clients include Tony winners Hugh Jackman and Marissa Jaret Winokur, Bette Midler and the stars of “High School Musical 3.” He also has worked extensively with “Parade” musical director Tom Murray. Knight credits them, as well as director Rob Ashford, with helping him enhance his technique and adapt to the multitasking that musical theater requires: “You are trying to learn five things at once, like singing when you’re supposed to do steps and move your arms and legs.”

“I’m constantly figuring stuff out,” says Knight. “It’s exhausting, my brain is packed, but it feels great.”

For more about Knight and “Parade,” read my story in Sunday’s Arts & Books.

You can also see Knight in a video from the production.

-- Karen Wada