Cliff Samuels

Clifton “Cliff” Samuels of Swansea is playing the role of Kevin, “the sexy waiter,” in the revival of the 1971 Stephen Sondheim-James Goldman musical “Follies.”

Watching his son rehearse in New York for a Broadway play, Sammy Fogle of Swansea wasn't expecting what happened next.

"There are some big-name celebrities in this," said Fogle, a maintenance technician at Zeus Industrial Products in Orangeburg. "After rehearsal, someone asked my name. I told them who I was, and their eyes lit up. They complemented me on the way we raised Cliff."

When he talks about his son, Clifton "Cliff" Samuels, it is Fogle's eyes that light up. Samuels is playing the role of Kevin, "the sexy waiter," in the revival of the 1971 Stephen Sondheim-James Goldman musical "Follies" at the Marriott Marquis Theater in Times Square.

Cast alongside such stars as Bernadette Peters, Jan Maxwell, Elaine Page, Danny Burstein and Ron Raines, Fogle said performing has been his son's life-long dream.

"He was almost 3 years old when he first showed interest," he said. "We were always going to a rehearsal or a recital or performance somewhere.

"I remember one, in particular, when Cliff was 8. All the performers had a big group number at the end of the program. Cliff loved it. He asked the choreographer what kind of dance it was. ‘That one was from Broadway,' the choreographer said. Cliff told him, ‘Well, that's what I want to do when I grow up.'"

Fogle and Samuels' mother, Frances, have been married for 32 years.

After graduating from Swansea High School, Samuels majored in musical theater at the University of South Carolina and studied with the Broadway Theatre Project in Tampa, Fla. He has performed in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, among others.

When Samuels learned certain arts schools could give him a leg up getting to Broadway, he auditioned for inclusion in Oklahoma City University's dance program. Fogle said his son was asked to come back and sing.

"He sang two songs all the way through," Fogle said. "The dance department director asked if he knew the meaning of ‘Fogle' in German. When he said he didn't, she said it meant ‘bird,' which was appropriate because he sang like a bird."

Samuels said he wants to move on to television, film and commercials.

"I am now concentrating on that," he said. "It feels as though I am starting over in my career because I'm with a new echelon of people. I have to be pickier with my auditions.

"I love what I do, but you can never take South Carolina out of the boy and I come back whenever I can. You just can't replace family."

Contact the writer: psarata@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5540.

 

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