Angela Birchett is a dynamic vocalist & actor. Since deciding to follow her dreams of musical theatre to New York City in 2005, Angela has captivated audiences in several regional and U.S. touring productions. She made her Broadway debut last year in the Tony Award winning revival of The Color Purple. A native of Detroit, Michigan, Angela sat down and shared with us little more about her journey
and where she is now. Currently taking on the role of Effie Melody White at the Village Theatre in Everett Washington, Birchett rubs a little of her Dreamgirls magic off on us and it definitely will make you as happy as it made us. Caution: inspiration below.
Growing up in Detroit, what influenced you to pursue musical theatre?
Honestly, I didn’t grow up listening to musicals. I was a church girl. I grew up singing in and directing choirs at a very young age. One summer my Mom found a summer arts program with music and theatre and dance. You know moms want you busy, you’re not going to sit around the house. Well, that whole experience changed my whole view of theatre. We ended the program with the musical Purlie and I was cast as “Missy.” The youngest cast member cast as one of the oldest roles. Thanks to Clyde Harper who cast me & Rick Sperling founder/artistic director of the Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit who directed me in the role. I have a long history with Mosaic but that is how I got my start.
What has been the biggest thing you’ve had to overcome?
The biggest thing has been honoring, taking ownership, and being proud of who I am as a person, not a singer or a performer. I stop and think, who am I? You can’t be defined by what you do. What you do is not who you are. It’s a daily thing though. It helps me not to worry about not being enough this or that or too much this or that. I fully embrace myself.
What was the magnitude of you booking your first Broadway show with The Color Purple Tony Award winning Revival?
It’s still hard for me to put into words. I think the intensity of it and the audition process was very fast. It didn’t really hit me until maybe about a week later. Two of the company members presented me a production jacket with my name on it. I could just bust out and cry because it’s hard sometimes. I know I’ve walked out of an audition feeling misunderstood but to know that you made the connection and your dream is happening is quite surreal. To this day, I still say “Wow! That really happened.” It was numbing. It truly meant so much.
What did you learn and take away from your time during The Color Purple?
Coming into a show that was already successful is a little intimidating. There were moments where I questioned could I do this but the biggest thing I learned was “You belong here so act like it. Don’t get in here and now get shook.” Being a swing in your first Broadway show is a hard thing to walk into. It taught me going forward that I am here because I belong here and I will act accordingly.
What made you want to take on such a big role like Effie White in Dreamgirls?
Well, Dreamgirls is always one of those shows that kind of eluded me. I always knew I could do it, I sing it, I could play her but things never really worked out. I would get so close with different productions or not considered at all. So, when the opportunity came I jumped at it. This is a challenge and something that I wanted to do. This was my chance to really see what I have and to push myself. I gladly took on the challenge and I’m happy I did.
It’s making me better as a person as a performer. The discipline you need to be able to do this show night after night is life changing.
What’s the favorite part of the show for you?
The hardest part. It’s really where we start to see Effie crack. Once Heavy starts to the end of Act I is the most fun because it gives me a chance to find layers and make the stakes higher so when she finally does crack you crack with her. When you put it all together you get a little bit of annoyance but you feel for her.
What is the best advice you can give to inspire your younger self?
Don’t feel like you have to apologize for everything. Give yourself permission to make mistakes and allow it in other people, too. Be human. Be you and enjoy the person God made you.
Dreamgirls runs thru July 30th at The Village Theatre in Everette, Washington. Find out more information and purchase tickets HERE
Effie White (Angela Birchett) and Deena Jones (Lauren Du Pree) fight for a spot on the charts with their versions of “One Night Only.” For more information about Dreamgirls at Village Theatre visit http://www.villagetheatre.org/dreamgirls.php