Video and more: Meet LaChanze of 'If/Then'

Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.

Tony Award-winning actor LaChanze will help make theatre history next week when If/Then becomes what is believed to be the first Broadway musical of the modern era to send out a national touring production with its principal cast intact.

We spoke to LaChanze about the derivation of her name, winning the Tony Award for The Color Purple, and coming to Denver to launch the If/Then tour alongside original cast members Idina Menzel, Anthony Rapp and James Snyder.

And here are more excerpts from LaChanze’s interview with DCPA Arts Journalist John Moore that are not included in the video above:

John Moore: Tell us about the derivation of your name.

LaChanze: Name: It’s a family name that has been passed down for four generations. I am not Creole. My family is not Creole. But my grandmother was raised there in Louisiana. There are four LaChanzes in my family. My daughter’s middle name is LaChanze. The meaning is “one who is charmed.”

John Moore: What was it like performing the national anthem in front of 78,000 people before the Denver Broncos’ season-opening win over the Baltimore Raves?

LaChanze: Typically when I sing the national anthem, it is a very reverent, serious, solemn moment. I think it deserves that kind of respect. But after people started jumping out of planes and landing on the field, and Thunder the Horse did his tour around the stadium, and the fire is shooting up – and all of this happened just before I sang – well, that was a tough act for the national anthem to follow. But it was so much fun.

John Moore: What is it like for you to be making history by becoming the first Broadway company of the modern era to reunite the entire principal cast for the first national touring production?

LaChanze: When they announced that they were doing the tour, we all starting checking in with each other. One would say, ‘Would you do it?’ And another would say, ‘I’ll do it of you do it.’ Our producer didn’t know we were having those conversations, but we were. Quite a few of them, actually. But if we were going to do it, we needed to be together. We originated these characters, and this story, together. And we have bonded. We wanted to continue the true telling of this story, with our imprint on it, for the national tour. And it’s great when you get to be onstage with people you already have been onstage with for a year. You already know what to expect. It’s comfortable.

LaChanze

John Moore: You won the Tony Award for playing a terribly abused young girl in The Color Purple. How much fun is it to be playing a more grounded, modern character?

LaChanze: I have played a lot of dramatic characters, and I am known for playing all these roles that resonate with pain and suffering and overcoming. I am rarely cast as an optimistic, outgoing, vibrant woman, which I am, and so here was an opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up. I love the story. And I love that it’s not a journey where I have to cry every single night. People get to see a different dimension in me as an actor and a singer. It is a real personal joy for me to be able to walk out and light up the stage.

John Moore: What do you love about the If/Then story?

LaChanze: This story is all of our life story. We always question the choices we make, and sometimes we wonder if we had made a different choice, what the outcome would have been. I think about that all the time.

John Moore: Tell us about your upcoming record and concert tour.

LaChanze: I have a show that I will be taking on in the road in 2016 and ’17 called Feeling Good, and it is just that: Music that makes you feel good. Between songs, I cut in a few anecdotes about my life – both optimistic moments that I have had, and some other moments that haven’t been so optimistic. But I talk how I overcame them. So it is slightly autobiographical, but it really is meant to be an inspiring, uplifting evening. I’m hoping we can bring the show here to Denver.

WATCH LaCHANZE SING THE ANTHEM FOR THE DENVER BRONCOS:

If/Then: Ticket information
Oct. 13-25
At the Buell Theatre
Call 303-893-4100, buy in person at the Denver Center Ticket Office located at the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby, or BUY ONLINE
ASL interpreted, Audio described & Open captioned performance: 2 p.m. Oct 25,
Groups: Call 303-446-4829

(Please be advised that the DCPA’s web site at denvercenter.org is the ONLY authorized online ticket provider for ‘If/Then’ performances in Denver)


Our previous NewsCenter coverage of If/Then and Idina Menzel:

Look for additional coverage of If/Then, including our expanded interviews with Idina Menzel, David Stone, Brian Yorkey, Tom Kitt and other members of the cast and crew, at denvercenter.org/news-center

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