The actors who captivate us are those who can carry the weight of a heavy role while communicating hints of what makes life so ambiguous and, at best, hopeful. Ansa Akyea brings a combination of dramatic heft and humane lightness to every role he touches. While he isn't particularly tall, he has such a physical presence that he could pass for a six-plus-footer. And he's blessed with a big, expressive, handsome mug that enables him to run the gamut from heartthrob to nurturing protector. In Children's Theatre Company's premiere adaptation of The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963, Akyea aced the role of Daniel, the family man dealing with civil-rights era racism. Then he shifted to co-worker Seneca in Mixed Blood's Vestibular Sense, lending an easy-going benevolence to a tricky story about a young autistic man. Most recently, Akyea swung from light-hearted to profound in CTC's Huck Finn. The actor careened through a variety roles in the show, but most crucially he portrayed Mark Twain's escaped slave Jim with passion, vulnerability, and a disarming simplicity. Even if there's no raft trip, spotting Akyea's name on a playbill always means that we're going on a ride.