Steven “HeaveN” Cantor is making his Broadway debut in the musical In Transit, playing at the Circle in the Square Theatre in New York City. It's Broadway's first a cappella musical, which takes place in the subways of New York City. With interconnecting stories, pitch-perfect vocals and some serious hip-hop from the beat-boxing skills of HeaveN, In Transit is a first of its kind on Broadway.
The Atlanta native hit the Broadway lottery when the show needed a beat-boxing performer to narrate the lives of its characters struggling with relationships, family, faith, work and the grind of New York City. Now, he is living the Broadway grind, and HeaveN's star is clearly in transit to success. In his first interview with BET.com, we talked with the beat boxer, who is passionate about storytelling, music and people living their authentic lives.
How did you get involved in the Broadway show 'In Transit'?
I was actually touring with Arrested Development, the group, not the TV show. I’ve been touring with them for the last year and a half all over: Japan, the U.K., Canada, and here in the U.S. My manager got a call from casting and they said they had a Broadway show that required my particular skills. The next day I was in New York, a couple auditions later, I got a call and they were like, ‘How would you like to come perform on Broadway?’ It was so unexpected. It was a unique opportunity that came along where I was able to bring a lot of experience from my own life to the role. My life experience prepared me for the role. I’ve had quite a journey.
Tell us about your character.
His name is “Boxman.” He is very content with who he is and he attracts that desire in all of the characters. All of the characters are rushing around, searching for that contentment within themselves and Boxman has that thing they’re all looking for. He is the groove that narrates all of their stories together.
The majority of the story takes place in the subways of New York City. What did you think when you heard this was the setting?
I thought it was brilliant. New York is a very unique city where you have so much culture, so much history, so many different people from all over, and all walks of life in one place. I feel like the subway really encompasses that. When I first saw the script and I saw that it was taking place in a subway, I was very excited!
In many ways, the show is about fighting for love and acceptance. What ways have you had to fight for love and acceptance?
I think love and acceptance first starts with the individual. Like the characters in the show, they’re all looking for that contentment, it all begins with the individuals. Changing or facing something that comes from within. For me, a big part of that was just being OK accepting the fact that I wasn't going to make a living working a 9 to 5. I needed the courage to go after something that I know I love to do. Beat boxing is very specific. There are not a lot of outlets for it, so that’s been a constant battle for me. Looking at the story, the constant theme is finding the love within yourself in order to find the love in other people.
The cast is incredibly diverse. What has the show taught you about diversity?
I think the show itself is a love letter to New York. There’s no place in the world like this city. In the place and time of today, the show reflects that diversity and how so many different cultures and so many people from different places interact.
There is one scene where two men kiss. An older man who was sitting in front of me groaned during the scene. What’s your response to people who may be uncomfortable by some of the themes in the show?
My response to the people that may be uncomfortable is, watch the show again, because if you’re uncomfortable, you’re missing the theme, which is to be open and aware. It’s about being receptive. To tune in to the world around you, to tune in to not just your perspective of life but other people’s perspectives of life and other people’s situations and know that we all share the same space, like the subway. If anything in the show is offending you, then you’re missing the point of the show.
What’s next for you?
I see a lot. I see Broadway in my future again, but I also see myself working in television, films and even cartoons. I also love to do music. That’s the other half of me. I come from the music world so I’m working on an album right now. Also, I see myself just continuing to push the art of beat box. If you want to check out more beat boxing, visit www.heavenbeatbox.com.
For more info on In Transit, go here.
See another Broadway star tell his story with Black History Month, above.
(Photo: Walter McBride/WireImage)