Apr. 10 2020
Broadway musicals can’t raise their curtains until summer—so performers are raising funds for good causes instead. Chief among them is Adrienne Warren, the 32-year-old star of Tina, who sang on FaceTime with Rosie O’Donnell for an Actors Fund benefit… from her bathtub. (She nailed it—here’s proof.) Adrienne’s also involved in Broadway Feeds Bellevue, a grassroots effort to provide free meals to essential workers on the frontlines. And soon enough, she’ll be back to wowing crowds and breaking box office records as Tina Turner onstage. Here’s how she prepares for the starring role—which we look forward to seeing when she steps back into the spotlight later this year. Hang in there, Broadway babies!
5:45 P.M. This is when I get started every night at the theater. But when did I get started feeling in charge of my own voice? When I learned to sing for the first time. My dad is a singer; he was practicing a song one night for church. I was supposed to be asleep, but I started singing, too. It was the first time I started doing something that I felt like was my own. My dad heard me, and I thought I’d be reprimanded for not being in bed, but instead, he told me to come upstairs and sing with him. That’s when he started teaching me how to harmonize and how to learn music. I was three.
6 P.M. This is when I would do my breathing exercises to start calming down—breathing exercises are actually great to do in general if you’re stressed or scared… [and] in the beginning, I was very scared by this role. I mean, it’s Tina Turner. Who dares be Tina Turner onstage but her?… I didn’t believe in myself as much as I should have, initially… but now I embrace that I was chosen for this role, and I do this thing called “skipping,” which is kind of a little internal celebration… I take a second to acknowledge the hard work it took to get where I am. And then I do a little happy dance because I’m here!
6:10 P.M. This is when we’d have a “fight call,” where Tina and Ike [the actor Daniel J. Watts] practice our fights ahead of time. You do it before every show to make sure everybody’s safe and they know their stunts.
6:30 P.M. I’ll go back to my dressing room and put on my favorite music. I’ve been going through a Celine Dion playlist, and of course I sing along. It’s “My Heart Will Go On” karaoke before the show. This is also when I’d snack a little on Cheez-Its, a KIND bar, and tea or espresso. I can’t eat a full meal before shows, because I’m shaking my butt for two hours out there! But I snack.
6:45 P.M. Time for makeup. We’ll put on this makeup that makes me look a little like Rafiki from The Lion King in the beginning, before we blend it all in. And in that moment, we’ll always sing “Circle of Life!” I have to find the energy to do a really long, really hard show emotionally. So this is kind of the last time I have to be Adrienne, to find all the happiness I can that’s going to sustain me through a very hard time.
6:55 P.M. We put on the first wig of the show, and that’s when I really feel myself stepping into Tina’s body. There’s always 3-4 people with me backstage at all times because we have such tight costume changes—they’re incredible, and what they can do in 60 seconds is crazy!
7 P.M. Just before the show begins, the cast and crew will do a prayer circle and someone recites an inspirational word of the day. My favorite word so far has been “Progress.” No matter where you are in your day, in your career, in your emotional state, you can think about the word “progress” as an inspiration to be a little bit better, but also as a marker of how far you’ve already come. Progress is an accomplishment in itself, and you’re making it every day. Be proud of that.