Adrienne Warren: ‘I Needed a Break’

The last time Adrienne Warren slipped on the towering blonde wig she wears in “Tina — The Tina Turner Musical” was seven months ago. But when she received the second Tony Award nomination of her career on Thursday, for best actress in a musical, she was recording voice-overs and didn’t have the chance to look at her phone until nearly 5:30 p.m.

In an interview soon after that, the 33-year-old actress discussed how she handled one of Broadway’s most physically demanding roles and what she meant when she said in June that she wasn’t sure she wanted to continue her acting career. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

Has Tina Turner congratulated you?

[Laughs.] Actually, I have no idea. I’ve been in the sound studio doing voice-over work all day, so I just looked at my phone, which has absolutely blown up.

Have you been enjoying the break from such a physical role?

I had a lot of injuries around the time we ended the run, so I was in desperate need of time to heal my body. I sang over 25 songs a night. You have to be as present as possible because of all the fight choreography and the dancing and making sure you’re as safe as possible not only for yourself but for those around you.

How tall were the heels you wore?
[Laughs.] It depends on the day. My main ones were three-and-a-half inches, and we had some that were a little bit taller. When I had injuries, we actually had a lower set of heels to give my knees and back a little bit of a break. I think I ran up and down those stairs eight times a night.

You recently sang a killer rendition of “Before the Parade Passes By” from “Hello, Dolly” in “Miscast.” What is your dream role in a Broadway musical, regardless of age or gender?

It’s crazy because I feel like I’m already in it. I’m a rock 'n' roll girl, so the opportunity to tell Tina’s story and to have her mentorship and guidance is amazing. As for what the next dream role will be, I don’t know. I want to make sure that I’m telling stories that represent me as a Black woman and also push the needle forward in ways that resonate with people, both in this nation and abroad.

You said in June that you weren’t sure you wanted to continue performing given all the racial injustice. How are you feeling about your career as an actor right now?

I know this is what I’m supposed to do, but the question is whether I want to do it at the address I’ve been doing it. Because institutionally, Broadway has some work to do. And I believe that work will be done. But it makes me question myself, especially as a Black artist, when the phrase Black Lives Matter is more political to my community than it is humanizing to my community. That hurts deeply.

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