Like the music pioneer Stevie Wonder, Sean Holland II was born and raised in Michigan, where Sean has performed in some of the state’s most prestigious venues. Now, he brings the music of his fellow Michigander to life onstage in FST’s lively Cabaret, A Place in the Sun: A Tribute to Stevie Wonder.
We sat down with Sean to talk about the importance of versatility in the music business, which song from the show resonates with him the most, and how he’s enjoyed his time in Sarasota so far.
A Place in the Sun is a musical celebration of Stevie Wonder’s legendary impact and artistic contributions. What do you think makes Stevie Wonder stand out from other artists whose music also spans several genres and styles?
Stevie Wonder has a unique outlook on the world that most will never experience nor comprehend, given that he can’t see visual color. His intake of the world around him is filtered through the eye of his imagination. This imaginative spirit is evident in his music. He continually breaks boundaries and creates new paths for artists to follow.
What does Stevie Wonder’s music mean to you?
Stevie Wonder’s music has become such a foundation for me. Early on in my musical discovery, I remember being in awe of the many types of influences I heard in his music, including jazz, gospel, R&B, the classic Motown sound, and so much more. This variety inspired me to dive deeper into his music, not only for the melodic and lyrical content, but so I could be more informed on other cultures and musical practices from around the world.
What song in the show do you connect most with and why?
I connect with “I Never Dreamed” most out of all the songs in the show. Wonder wrote this song after his mother passed. He was trying to make sense of the promises of the past and the reality of the present. I believe this is a concept that we play out in everyday life. The questions we have to ask ourselves, in order to move forward in life, despite the sting of grief, help us to live our best lives.
You’ve performed in several musical theatre and opera productions. What skills have you developed from these experiences that you’ve brought with you to A Place in the Sun?
My collective experience performing in musicals and operas has given me an appreciation for the immense variety of musical expressions that exist. Stevie Wonder’s music is distinct because he explores many different genres and styles in his music, so being musically agile is vital to performing many of his most popular hits.
This is your first time performing in an FST Cabaret. What has your experience been like so far? What do you most enjoy about performing A Place in the Sun?
It’s been a complete joy. Working with my fellow cast members Josh, Ben, Marcus, and Madalyn, along with the entire production crew has made me feel like I have gained a new family. We all truly enjoy coming to the theatre six days a week and sharing the transformative story of Stevie Wonder.
Due to popular demand, A Place in the Sun has been extended and will play in FST's Goldstein Cabaret through April 16, 2023.