Living La Vida LaChanze: Tony and Emmy Winner Talks Broadway Return in If/Then

By Karu F. Daniels
21 Apr 2014

LaChanze in If/Then.
Photo by Joan Marcus

"I know it's been almost 10 years," she said. "I left because my girls were so young and they were getting to that place where they needed their mom around more. They weren't babies any more, I couldn't just like hire a nanny and have her help me out.

"I had just got out of a relationship with someone that didn't end well," LaChanze, whose first husband perished in the Sept. 11 2001 terror attacks, said. "So there was a lot of stress in my personal life that I was managing as well as trying to raise my daughters."

The project also had to be worthwhile, she noted. "I mean coming back to the stage is a full-on commitment, so if you're going to do it, it has to be the right project. I did a couple of small things here and there that didn't keep me away from it for so long... I did some small theatre things, but nothing too distracting. I couldn't do a Broadway commitment until I found the right project."

In the spring of 2013, choreographer and performer Ken Roberson directed her in string of sold-out shows at 54 Below entitled Love Hangover: LaChanze Sings Diana Ross. In 2010, she co-authored the children's book "Little Diva" about a precocious child with big dreams of becoming a Broadway star like her mother. In September 2008, her performance, alongside J. Robert Spencer and Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops, of Handel's Messiah Rocks at Emerson College's Cutler Majestic Theatre in Massachusetts, was filmed and later broadcast on PBS.

When If/Then first came around, LaChanze had just completed a workshop Hal Prince's Prince of Broadway that she said she "really wanted to do and was already committed to start in 2012." But then that got pushed back until 2015, and within a month of learning of that show's postponement she met with If/Then's director Michael Greif. And the rest was history.

"Truthfully I wanted to do something different from the kind of work people know me as doing, which has primarily been period pieces or parts that are dealing with high-level drama and I wanted to do something that wasn't and this was the direct opposite of that for me," she said. "I wanted people to see that: Yes, LaChanze is also funny... So here, there is a larger audience, a larger platform and I thought it was a great opportunity to show people that I do have a comedic sense and that I can be seen as a modern woman still able to deliver in terms of vocally and dramatically because there are some moments where I have to show some depth of the character but more importantly I can be funny. And I saw this as a great opportunity to play that."


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