PLAYBILL BRIEF ENCOUNTER With Fantasia Barrino, Stepping Into Her Favorite Era in Broadway's After Midnight

By Michael Gioia
21 Oct 2013

Can you tell me about the world that director-choreographer Warren Carlyle is creating? We're getting taken back to this sexy and sultry era.

Fantasia Barrino
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

FB: Oh gosh, I think that he is truly gifted. When I first met him, I looked at him like, "You're doing the play?" [Laughs.] He's like, "Yeah!" I had questions for him. I wanted to know, "What makes you want to do something like this?" and "Did you grow up in music all around you?" He said, "It's just a different language. It's good music, and I think people need to see and hear what I grew up on and what I loved." He's putting his all into this. When you see the dancing, you're going to be blown away [with] the way they put everything together. It's amazing. I actually start sitting down and working with him tomorrow, and I'm kind of nervous because I want to make him happy and make him proud because it's his vision. It's his baby. Tomorrow I'm probably going to go in with the mind[set] of, "I want to embody this character and really make him proud."

You just told me that before your performance of "Stormy Weather," you were a bit nervous. There's a sense of ownership to these songs. Icons have sang them. Is there pressure to breathe new life into this music?
FB: A lot of pressure, I would say, because you want to make the Ella Fitzgeralds and the Billie Holidays proud. These songs meant a lot to them… Even Lena Horne. You don't want to come behind it and half do it or not bring it to life. I want to make [Warren] happy and, for those women whom I've been studying, I want to be able to step into their shoes so the audience can feel who they were and what they brought to the music.

( staff writer Michael Gioia's work appears in the news, feature and video sections of as well as in the pages of Playbill magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @PlaybillMichael.)