For years Glee's Amber Riley belted out show tunes on TV from Dreamgirls, Chicago and more, and now the actress is finally prepping to take the New York stage in the Encores! musical revue Cotton Club Parade.
“It’s really amazing," Riley told of Broadway.com of joining the New York theater community. "Even though I got in during the hurricane, nothing dimmed that glow for me. I’m still really excited.”
In Cotton Club Parade, Riley shares the stage with Tony winner Adriane Lenox, Tony nominee Joshua Henry and dancer extraordinaire Jared Grimes. The musical offers audiences a look inside the famed Harlem nightclub by recreating one of Duke Ellington’s legendary floor shows. For Riley, watching her castmates rehearse their big numbers has proven an unexpected joy.
“To be here and see everyone and sneak in on people’s rehearsals, it’s like you’re getting the show while you’re rehearsing,” Riley said.
The experience of being impressed by co-stars is nothing new for Riley. “Because of Glee, I’m used to being in a big ensemble cast," she said, but noted TV is quite different from live theater. "[TV] is definitely not as instant, because you do get a do-over. You can say 'Cut' and do [a scene] again. This is a little harder because once you go out there, there’s no turning back.”
Cotton Club Parade runs for just one weekend, so can audiences expect to see Riley on Broadway anytime soon? “Well, let’s see how this goes,” she said with a laugh. “I definitely do have Broadway dreams. I’ve loved musicals since I was a kid. When we would take turns renting movies from Blockbuster, I’d come home with Gypsy. Whatever role comes my way, if I feel I’m great for it, I’m going to go for it.”
Click below to watch Riley performing “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” during a recent rehearsal for Cotton Club Parade, and check her out live beginning November 14.