Dorian Harewood Discusses His 'Color Conscious' Role in “The Notebook"

Dorian Harewood brings depth to Broadway's newest musical sensation.

by Nouman Rasool
Dorian Harewood Discusses His 'Color Conscious' Role in “The Notebook"
© Michel Boutefeu/Getty Images

Dorian Harewood's journey back to Broadway in "The Notebook: The Musical" is not just a return to the stage; it's a culmination of an illustrious career that spans decades across television, film, and theater. Harewood, known for his dynamic roles—from portraying Simon Haley in "Roots: The Next Generations" to his athletic portrayal in "The Jesse Owens Story"—brings a wealth of experience and a nuanced understanding of his craft to his latest role as "Older Noah." This performance at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, which marks his Broadway return after 46 years, underscores Harewood's enduring presence and versatility in the performing arts.

Reflecting on his career, Harewood shares insights into the roles that have defined his journey, including his Emmy-nominated narration in "Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream" and his NAACP Image Award-winning performance in "I'll Fly Away." His diverse body of work highlights his ability to transform through the art of storytelling, whether it's through his voice, his singing, or his acting.

Harewood's approach to his craft is akin to that of a musician, with words serving as his melody, a technique that has served him well from his early days in "Jesus Christ Superstar" to his current role in "The Notebook: The Musical."

Timeless Love Reimagined

The musical adaptation of Nicholas Sparks' beloved story, transformed into a poignant musical by Ingrid Michaelson and Bekah Brunstetter, offers a new lens through which audiences can experience the timeless tale of Noah and Allie.

Harewood praises Brunstetter's adaptation for its seamless narrative that weaves through time, capturing the enduring love of the couple amid the challenges of Allie's dementia. This role resonates deeply with Harewood, who draws parallels to his own longstanding marriage, emphasizing the transcendent nature of love that he and his wife share.

The casting of "The Notebook: The Musical" is celebrated for its color-conscious approach, a decision that Harewood believes speaks to the universality of love and the internal qualities that define us beyond our exterior.

This perspective is not new to Harewood, who has previously been part of groundbreaking casting decisions that challenged racial norms and opened dialogues about representation in the arts. From his early days on stage and screen, where he worked alongside legends like Bette Davis, to his significant contributions to the portrayal of African American stories in Hollywood, Harewood's career is a testament to the evolving landscape of the entertainment industry.

His reflections on the progression of Black actors in Hollywood, from stereotypical roles to more complex, humanized portrayals, underscore the significance of projects like "Roots" in broadening narratives and fostering a more inclusive industry.