Published on April 2nd, 2019 | by Darren Paltrowitz0
“Pride & Joy” Stars Jarran Muse, Chae Stephen & Krystal Drake Talk Marvin Gaye With The Hype
From the secret diary of Anna Gordy Gaye comes what is arguably the greatest Motown love story never told: Pride & Joy. The untold love story of Anna Gordy Gaye and iconic R&B singer Marvin Gaye, this musical features 28 songs from the legendary Motown catalogue including Marvin Gaye’s greatest hits. The two-and-a-half-hour show — including a 30-minute intermission — kicks off its opening tour on April 6th in Saginaw, Michigan. It will also be performed in Grand Rapids, Washington D.C., Detroit, Atlanta, Baltimore and Chicago before wrapping in Houston, Texas.
I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with three of the stars of Pride & Joy: Jarran Muse, Krystal Drake and Chae Stephen. The three opened up about what to expect from the show, in addition to their personal histories as fans of Marvin Gaye. Tour dates, cast biographies and other information about the upcoming national run of Pride & Joy can be found at www.newdayentertainmentlive.com.
When did you find out you were cast in Pride & Joy? Did you go through a long audition process?
Jarran Muse: My process was a little different since Marvin Gaye III saw me portraying his father in Motown The Musical a few years back in Los Angeles, and told me then he had a project he wanted me to be apart of as “Young Marvin Gaye.” The official hiring process took about a year total.
Krystal Drake: I found out I was cast in Pride & Joy approximately three weeks prior to opening! I joined the cast on the later side of things and I was absolutely elated once I got the news!
Chae Stephen: My person-to-person audition was on January 7, 2019. But the actual audition process started back in August with a Facebook message from Marvin Gaye III’s business partner D’Extra Wiley from MG III Global Licensing. He had seen some photos of me in character as Marvin Gaye and reached out to me about Pride & Joy. He set up a conference call with Executive Producer Quentin Perry, the CEO of New Day Entertainment, and his daughter Keia Perry-Farr, Executive Producer and Casting Director. We talked, I sang a little over the phone and then we set the date for me to fly to Detroit for the audition. Immediately after my audition Mr. Perry said, “You’ve got the part!” I was like, “Ok!” (laughs) They sent me back to Atlanta with a check and a contract. So I would say the audition process took some time.
How much preparation was needed for your role?
Jarran Muse: Weeks and weeks of preparation were needed! I was fortunate to have Berry Gordy give me a wealth of knowledge about Marvin. A lot of people don’t know that Marvin and Mr. Gordy were brothers-in-law, since Anna Gordy was his sister. During Motown The Musical, I had several one-on-one sessions with Mr. Gordy who shared a lot of their experiences together. I also immersed myself with all the content available on the Internet, “YouTube University” as I like to call it, and all the books published about his life.
Krystal Drake: Tons of preparation was needed, especially since this particular production involved such notable figures in music. Therefore, I did ample research in preparation for this role.
Chae Stephen: The preparation process for this role actually started back in 1984. (laughs) I know that sounds strange but, my mother has a friend who’s a spiritual prophetess. There’s a terminology used called, “walk ins.” This is when the spirit leaves the body of someone who has transitioned and walks into someone who is still living. She said that based on my life and how I’ve developed physically and vocally and even with my bout with drugs — because I am a recovering addict with nine years clean and sober — that in 1984 when Marvin Gaye passed — God rest his soul — his spirit, unbeknownst to me walked into me. So God has been preparing me for this role since I was a child.
Had you worked with anyone in Pride & Joy before being cast in this?
Jarran Muse: The only person I knew before Pride & Joy was Justin Reynolds, who plays Smokey Robinson. A lot of people hear the phrase “it’s all about who you know” and sometimes that phrase holds a lot of truth.
Krystal Drake: This will be my first time working with everyone within this cast. It’s such a blessing to be apart of such an amazing and talented cast, and I hope to work with them again in the future.
Chae Stephen: I have not worked with anyone from the cast before Pride & Joy, but wow! New Day Entertainment — along with director TJ Hemphill and co director and lead co-writer Angela Barrow-Dunlap have — put together a phenomenally talented and hardworking cast ensemble, from our choreographer Tristan Andrews to our music director Cordell Walton. And it’s truly an honor to work with them all.
Do you remember the first time you heard or learned about Marvin Gaye?
Jarran Muse: Of course I remember. I used to listen to the smooth jazz stations and oldies station when I was younger, and I vividly remember hearing the instrumental version of “After The Dance” and being mesmerized by the rhythm. Then I heard the full version with lyrics and was hooked on Marvin Gaye. I’ve always been told I reminded people of a young Marvin, so I just ran with it.
Krystal Drake: I was a teenager when I first heard Marvin Gaye and I fell in love with his music and style. I’ve been known to have an old soul, so naturally I gravitated to him and his sound. Marvin Gaye happens to be my favorite artist, so you can imagine the excitement and gratefulness I feel to be apart of this show!
Chae Stephen: I heard and learned about Marvin Gaye at a very young age. My mom would of course play his music on Saturday mornings while cleaning up. He is a part of the soundtrack to my childhood years.
Pride & Joy aside, what is coming up for you?
Jarran Muse: After 15 years of Broadway and the musical theater life, “Film & TV land” is knocking loudly at my door. Once Pride & Joy is up and running, I will eagerly answer and start filming the next chapters of my career.
Krystal Drake: Post Pride & Joy I will definitely take some time to myself to rejuvenate and refresh. There will also be more shows for sure!
Chae Stephen: Aside from Pride & Joy, what’s in store for me? I’m a true believer that all experiences and opportunities serve as a bridge to bigger and better things as long as we’re true to who we are and genuine in our passion. I really don’t know what God has in store for me but whatever it is, I plan to be mentally, physically and spiritually ready for it.
What was the last concert you attended for fun?
Jarran Muse: I think it was the Beyonce On The Run concert in Dallas. Work keeps me busy, so I don’t get the chance to see a lot of live performances outside of my own. With that said: “Beyonce, I’m ready to star opposite of you in something major and magical!”
Krystal Drake: The last concert I attended was The Weeknd and he was absolutely amazing. That was my first time seeing him live and he did great. There’s nothing like live music.
Chae Stephen: (laughs) It’s been so long since I’ve gone to a concert for fun. I can’t even remember.
Finally, any last words for the kids?
Jarran Muse: Marvin’s music is timeless! He was such an incredible artist and human being. I am so happy that we get to share Marvin’s legendary story with the young audiences, so they can experience the real music that was made back in the day, and will hopefully inspire them to bring real music back!
Krystal Drake: Marvin Gaye had such a unique style and brought forth so much within the world of music. His music is timeless and should be continuously celebrated. He is the greatest to ever do it!
Chae Stephen: The legacy of Marvin Gaye’s music is the purest and truest example of timeless music. He sang about the times, and one thing we all know about time is that what goes around comes around. Music has changed but the issues and emotions he wrote and sang about haven’t. He sang about love, and love is infinite. Marvin Gaye was truly a troubled man with a divided soul. And his soul resonated universally with everyone through his music.