Tina Fabrique has appeared at Arena Stage in The Women of Brewster Place, Ella, and recently stood in for E. Faye Butler for two performances of Trouble in Mind. Ella (based on the life of Ella Fitzgerald) has been seen all over the country and sells out wherever it plays. Her Broadway credits include Bring in Da Noise Bring in the Funk and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. She was the original vocalist for the theme song of PBS’s Reading Rainbow series and can be heard singing the title song for the documentary Mad Hot Ballroom. I first saw Tina in Abyssinia at Goodspeed and then had a chance to work with her at Paper Mill Playhouse some years later. Her new CD entitled Tina Fabrique sings the Great Composers is now available. Tina is pure talent and pure class.
What was your first professional job?
I was doing night clubs like the Village Gate and the uptown Harlem clubs like Smalls Paradise but my first professional theater job was Bubbling Brown Sugar.
You did Bring In The Noise Bring In The Funk on Broadway. Was that show a different kind of singing for you than say Ella?
Yes I would say so because Noise was created with historic references told through Da Singer and Da Voice so the singing was more about those characters that Ann Duquensay and George Wolfe created. Ella Fitzgerald on the other hand was known for her perfect pitch, her annunciation and her clear sweet sound, even when she imitated the horns and scatted. Both were challenging in producing the desired effect but in different ways.
Of all the shows that you have originated a role in which is your favorite?
Without hesitation I must say playing Ella has been my all time favorite. It is the hardest thing to do, play a famous person without it seeming to be an imitation. Rob Ruggiero wanted to tell Ella’s story with truth, honesty and without being preachy. To bring her to life onstage. No easy task but I think we have achieved it with grace and respect for this amazing artist.
Which is more satisfying for you, doing a run of a show or concert work?
Concerts are special because of the material you get to sing, the theme and the arrangements and many times like with the concert I am doing Nov. 4, 2011, with the Hartford Symphony. Strings and Cole Porter music, you can’t beat that. But it is only one night, so I do believe all things considered I enjoy the run of a show where you get to try different things on different nights, even the smallest things can change an actors performance and is worth trying.
What is the one role you have not played yet that you really want to do?
I am very fond of the melodic speech of the classics and I would love to play one of the many wicked queens in the Shakespeare plays, like Queen Margaret in Richard lll. The language fascinates me, and of course it is a challenge to speak words which we no longer use and make your audience feel and understand the situations these characters are living through.
Tina Fabrique’s website.