The ’90s classic movie Love Jones‘ has been adapted for the stage starring some of the hottest music artists today. Grammy Award-winning, singer-songwriter Chrisette Michele stars in the play as Nina Mosley — a gifted photographer who recently ended a bad relationship only to find herself falling for another man.
Rolling out spoke to Michele to get her take on her role, touring, the musical, and her music.
How did you get on board with the project?
Love Jones was presented to the director of the last musical I was in called Married but Single. The director of Married but Single got in touch with Melvin [Childs] who was looking for someone to play Nina in Love Jones [The Musical]. They both got together with me. Melvin came out to one of my shows in New York and then asked me to play the role of Nina. I took a look at it and I liked it so I took it.
What are rehearsals like for the musical?
It varies from musical to musical. Usually, you have six or seven weeks just to workshop a musical to figure out the kinks and feel it out. We had about 10 days to get the entire musical up and running. It was three days of setting our intentions and deciding what we thought our character would bring to the script; you know, character development. A lot of that we had to do at home before we came. Long story short, because that’s a three-hour conversation that I’d love to have with you, but long story short, when I was out on tour the Milestone Tour I was having for my album, I was memorizing the lines and you had to come knowing the whole book. There are 21 scenes in this musical and I’m in 19 of them, so that was probably one of the larger challenges coming knowing my script. Once you get there, you run it a few times with each other, you go on a fake stage, put a piece of paper where the chair is, put another piece of paper where the refrigerator might be, and you block it out. Blocking I think is probably one of every director’s favorite parts for stage shows and once it’s blocked, we go right into tech. Tech rehearsal is where they decide where all the lights are going to hit. That took about 50 hours literally standing in different spots on the stage while the director created over 400 lighting cues. Once that is done, you walk the stage and hope its the same in every one and see what’s different. It’s a lot of work.
What have you learned about yourself during this project?
That I hate consistency. I hate doing the same thing over and over. That’s kind of what I’ve been meditating on. What am I so afraid of when it comes to being consistent? What fears do I have about doing the same thing over and over again? Do I feel less creative when I create something and then have to show it more than once? So I’ve learned that about myself and then I learned that there [are] so many different types of theater. Growing up in New York City and your first Broadway show being Cats, you have a particular type of style. Then you go to school to study theater and you see things like Bye Bye Birdie and August Wilson and you see different types of theater when you get out into the real world. This is something that I never saw myself doing, but I’m learning a lot about myself experiencing it.
Will you still be on tour when your birthday comes up?
Well, I’m taking a quick trip for my birthday; I usually do that. Then the Milestone Tour doesn’t end until March so we’re going to be going back out in between shows with Love Jones then after Love Jones. We have a trick up our sleeves with the Love Jones The Musical so stay tuned. I’m overwhelmed with people’s response to my music and touring. If you don’t know, I’ve been on tour for 10 years and it’s been a nonstop really, really rewarding roller coaster.
What do you like most about your character?
What I love about the character on the page is that she gets to tell a story of a woman who was broken and then became empowered, and then became so empowered that she was able to speak up for what she believed she deserved. I think that’s the underlying idea that we watch a woman’s story and watch her growth. So my favorite thing is telling a man no in the show and telling another man yes. The ability for a woman to make her own decisions is what I like to tell in this play.
Is there anything else you want your fans to know?
To anyone that may be interested, there’s something I’m doing called Rich Hipster University and enrollment starts Nov. 15. It’s an artist development course through my record label that I’ll be doing online and interactive for all the up-and-coming artists who wish that artist development still exists in record labels. We created a push just for those people. Richhipsteruniversity.com and that site goes live in about two weeks.