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

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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.

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

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