Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice may have written about it, but Adrienne Warren's got it; star quality, that is. The beautiful actress is one of 30 young artists currently making a Broadway debut in the upbeat, family-friendly Bring It On: The Musical, the new, high-energy musical at the St. James Theatre that is inspired by the popular film franchise about rival cheerleading teams. Warren, who was also seen in the City Center Encores! production of The Wiz and as Lorrell in the recent national tour of Dreamgirls, portrays the no-nonsense Danielle in Bring It On, a role that earned her an Atlanta Theater Fan Award nomination. As Danielle, Warren gets the chance to showcase her rich, resonant and rangy voice as well as her acting, comedic and cheerleading chops. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with the actress, who also possesses an infectious, good-natured laugh. Warren spoke about her Broadway bow, her experiences in two different productions of Dreamgirls and more; that interview follows.
Question: Tell me, how did Bring It On come about for you?
Adrienne Warren: Well, I was on tour with Dreamgirls—the one that started at the Apollo a couple of years ago—and Andy Blankenbuehler gave me a phone call. I had worked with him at Encores! during The Wiz a couple summers before, and he called and said, "I can't find a girl to play this role. I know you're on tour, but are you interested in coming on a day off and auditioning?" And, I said, "Sure." So I came, I sang for the producers, and I got the job. [Laughs.]
|photo by Joan Marcus|
Question: Were you ever a cheerleader? Did you have any cheerleading experience?
Warren: Absolutely not! [Laughs.] I actually was an athlete in middle school and then up until high school, but then I went to a performing arts high school, so I had to stop a lot of my sports. I grew up in a sports family. My dad plays football—football coach—and my mom was basketball and track coach for a long time, and they never let me try out to be a cheerleader! That was just not an option in my house! [Laughs.] But I had a lot of friends who were cheerleaders. I used to pick on them in high school, and they used to put their skirts on me, and I used to laugh because I just did not look right in a cheer uniform—like ever! They thought it was the funniest thing to put their uniforms on me, and now it's kind of payback, and they're like, "It's so ironic that your Broadway debut would be playing a cheerleader!" I'm like, "I know. Crazy!" [Laughs.]
Question: How difficult were those stunts to learn?
Warren: You know, the stunts weren't really that difficult to learn, but there is a whole fear-factor in it, and once you get past the fear-factor of it, then you're okay. When we were doing the workshop, Andy Blankenbuehler told me to go up in a stunt, and I was nervous because I had just met these guys, and here I am putting my life in their hands. And, my mother—I was just moving to a new apartment—was painting my apartment, and I have really high ceilings, and when I came home, I told her the story of how I went up in the stunt, and tears welled up in my eyes because I had never really done that before… She made me get on top of the ladder in my apartment and sit there until my fear was gone. Ever since that, I was like, "Okay. I can do this." And, now those guys…We trust each other so much—the whole cast. They have you no matter what. Now it feels like any other dance move.
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