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Glee’s Amber Riley On Starring in Cotton Club Parade and How Broadway Is ‘Like Pizza’

Glee’s Amber Riley On Starring in Cotton Club Parade and How Broadway Is ‘Like Pizza’
Amber Riley
Amber Riley discusses her New York stage debut.

Glee standout Amber Riley is no stranger to musical theater. The young actress who made a splash as the big-voiced diva Mercedes on the FOX hit also appeared in musicals at the Los Angeles Opera, including Into the Woods and Alice in Wonderland. Now Riley is prepping to make her New York stage debut in Cotton Club Parade. caught up with the star to get the scoop on the musical revue and moving to New York.

“It’s an ode to Duke Ellington and that era of music,” she said. “I always say I was born in the wrong era. I should have been right along with Lena Horne and Ethel Waters and all those singers, 'cause I love that type of music. So this is definitely a different venture, a different area of entertainment for I’m really excited."

As for moving from L.A. to New York City, Riley is confident and excited to switch coasts. “I'm like an honorary New Yorker," she exclaimed. "Like, I’ve been to New York so much and there’s places that I like to go to. I love Broadway and I love theater in New York. It’s like pizza in New York. It just goes hand in hand."

Cotton Club Parade is a Broadway-style revue celebrating Duke Ellington’s years at the famed Harlem nightclub in the '20s and ‘30s. The show features singers, dancers and variety acts performing songs by composers including Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields (“I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” and “Digga Digga Doo”), a young Harold Arlen (“Stormy Weather,” “I’ve Got the World on a String,” “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea”) and Ellington himself (“Rockin’ in Rhythm,” “Cotton Club Stomp,” “Creole Love Call”).

In addition to Riley, the show will star Brandon Victor Dixon, Jared Grimes, Christopher Jackson and Adriane Lenox and feature direction and choreography by Warren Carlyle. Cotton Club Parade will play New York City Center for seven performances, November 14-18.

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