5 Questions from Over the Pond: Adrienne Warren & Ariana DeBose
It’s no secret that there are two theatre capitals of the world and these two great cities have a long history with one another. London and New York have shared the crème de la crème of their respective theatrical gems for decades with various West End and Broadway transfers. The “special relationship” is particularly evident when you consider the amount of smash hit London plays that get to cross the pond and, in return, the dominance of Broadway musicals that infiltrate the West End. Epitomised by last season’s seven-time Olivier Award-winning “Best Musical” Hamilton in London and the six-time Tony Award-winning “Best Play” Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in New York, this exchange is a trend that seems to be growing and growing.
The most successful titles have West End and Broadway productions running simultaneously and the immense pool of talent is utilised on both sides of the Atlantic with American actors frequently making West End debuts and vice versa. There simply just aren’t two cities that work as closely together, despite the vast ocean between them.
Since we at LondonTheatre.co.uk also work hand-in-hand with our sister site NewYorkTheatreGuide.com and since we share an unmatched passion for the talent both in the Big Smoke and the Big Apple, we’ve decided to launch a new feature by the name of “5 Questions from Over the Pond” which gives the talent based in New York and London the opportunity to ask each other five questions of their own choosing to quench their Transatlantic curiosity.
Sometimes these gifted actors may be playing the same role in their respective productions, but for our first edition we’ve decided to connect two Tony Award nominees who are both portraying titans of the music industry. Ladies and gentleman, we give you Adrienne Warren and Ariana DeBose!
Wowing audiences at London’s Aldwych Theatre in the titular role of Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, Adrienne Warren is currently experiencing a career-defining run as the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll. With a gruelling track of vocals - not to mention the emotional stakes of Tina’s journey itself - to get through at every performance, it is nothing short of a miracle of stamina and professionalism that she is able to not only endure, but also to excel in her performances. Her development of the signature voice, mannerisms and stage presence is a joy to watch as her character of Anna Mae Bullock gradually finds her own feet and creates the icon that is Tina Turner.
Over the pond, Ariana DeBose has the honour of bringing the Queen of Disco to the Broadway stage each night in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical. Alongside LaChanze (as ‘Diva Donna’) and Storm Lever (as ‘Duckling Donna’), Ms. DeBose gets to tell this iconic singer’s story, filled with adversity and obstacles to overcome, and undoubtedly steals the show as ‘Disco Donna,’ in this humble editor’s opinion. Donna Summer sadly passed away in 2012, but thanks to Ms. DeBose and the rest of her fine Broadway cast, those dancefloor gems such as “Hot Stuff,” “Bad Girls,” “MacArthur Park,” and “Last Dance” live on at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in New York City.
So, what does the Queen of Disco on Broadway want to know from the West End’s Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll? Well, without further ado, here are Ariana De Bose’s 5 Questions from Over the Pond for Adrienne Warren…
- ARIANA: Part 1 - What is your favourite Tina Turner song to sing that is special or specific to you?
ADRIENNE: It is hard to pick just one song but “We Don’t Need Another Hero” is a favourite because who doesn’t love an epic 80’s ballad?! I love everything about it, and it has one of my favourite bridges of all time! It is a very special moment in the show, which I look forward to every night.
ARIANA: Part 2 - What is your all-time favourite Tina tune?
ADRIENNE: “Nutbush City Limits” is my favourite Tina tune because she wrote it. It’s raw and funky. I love a song that makes you move while also telling a story.
- ARIANA: What do you do with your days off to recharge for another week of shows?
ADRIENNE: For this show, I have two days off to recover from the week and a two show Saturday which is nearly 50 songs by the end of the day! My first day is usually spent on vocal rest and in a horizontal position for as long as possible. Rest is crucial, along with many Epsom salt baths, and one ice bath a week. If my body recovers well on the first day of rest, the second day is usually devoted to being as human as possible. Lunch with a friend, grocery shopping, cleaning, going to a movie... things that have absolutely nothing to do with work. This job is so intense that having the balance between work and personal life is very important to me.
- ARIANA: What’s your favourite thing about portraying Tina? And what is the greatest gift “she” has given you?
ADRIENNE: I connect with Tina in many ways. We are both from the South, similar backgrounds, interests, and work ethics. My favourite thing about portraying Tina has been the unexpected personal journey I am experiencing throughout this process. I have learned so much about strength, faith, resilience, and perseverance.
I have had the honour and privilege of having Tina be a part of the process, which is a gift in itself. She has given me many gifts, some that are very personal to my heart. However, one of the first quotes she ever shared with me was: “There are no short cuts to hard work.”
- ARIANA: How are British audiences different from Broadway audiences?
ADRIENNE: Initially, I heard there are very specific differences between the two. However, due to the nature of this show, I have not had that experience. Our audiences are very enthusiastic and attentive.
Audiences for Bio-Musicals are a lot of fun because they are so excited to be there as they are either fans of the Artist or theatre goers. I personally love having both of those energies as an actor because there is never a dull moment!
- ARIANA: What Tina Turner/Donna Summer mash-up extravaganza should we do when you come home to New York?
ADRIENNE: What a dream that would be! There are a few I could think of but I’m gonna go with “Private Dancer/Love to Love You Baby”.
To read Ariana’s answers to Adrienne’s "5 Questions from Over the Pond," visit our New York Theatre Guide HERE.
Tina: The Tina Turner Musical Tickets are available now.