Broadway My Way
Singer and actress Heather Headley coming to Boston with her one-woman concert
An homage to what she calls “the Broadway part of my journey,” Grammy- and Tony-Award winning singer and actress Heather Headley’s one-woman concert “Broadway My Way” comes to Boston’s Emerson Colonial Theatre this Saturday, Nov. 3 at 8 p.m.
A project that’s been almost 10 years in the making, the show features a collection of songs Headley has performed and heard over the course of her illustrious career. “It’s songs that I hear my way,” the actress says, speaking with the Banner by phone recently.
For Headley, who grew up in the church and “loves gospel music and lives by gospel music,” the path to Broadway and performing has been a miraculous one, she says, and her success and the various roles she has played astonish her to this day.
The actress made her Broadway debut as Nala in the original Broadway cast of Disney’s “The Lion King” in 1997. Three years later, she originated the title role of Aida in the Elton John and Tim Rice musical and went on to win a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.
Being on Broadway wasn’t something that she ever dreamed of as a child. Her first introduction to the idea of being a performer was around the age of 6 or 7, she says, when a woman from her church asked her parents if she could take her to the movies to see “The Sound of Music.” Headley remembers putting on her favorite Sunday dress for the special occasion. It was a heady first experience for the young girl, who upon seeing the Julie Andrews-led film, “thought all movies should have music, and you just broke out spontaneously in song.”
Her second introduction came at 15, when her teachers encouraged her to try out for musicals. The Trinidad native found that she loved the whole experience, from reading a script to being on stage. Headley reveals that the first Broadway show she ever saw was when she herself performed on Broadway. “That’s why I say my journey there is so miraculous. I’m grateful for it and I’m grateful that Broadway has opened its arms to me and I can open my arms and hug it back,” she explains.
Headley earned an Olivier Award nomination for her West End stage debut in “The Bodyguard,” in which she portrayed Rachel Marron, the character made famous by Whitney Houston in the film version. In 2016, she returned to Broadway as Shug Avery in the Tony-winning revival of “The Color Purple.”
In addition to her roles on Broadway, she currently stars as Gwen Garrett in the NBC medical drama “Chicago Med,” where her character goes toe-to-toe with Sharon Goodwin, portrayed by S. Epatha Merkerson (“Law & Order”). The series marks Headley’s second foray into television, after playing Dr. Jamison on the Netflix series “She’s Gotta Have It” in 2017.
Working in television has been a good learning experience, says the stage actress, who describes it as “a different kind of discipline.” She says she feels blessed to be working with the “Chicago Med” cast and especially with Merkerson, with whom she loves sitting down to hear stories about her work, her acting roles and her time on Broadway.
Of “Broadway My Way,” Headley states that it’s not just a Broadway concert. “It’s for anybody who loves great music and who wants to be there. This is the place for you.”
If You Go
This Saturday, Nov. 3, Heather Headley in “Broadway My Way” at the Emerson Colonial Theatre located at 106 Boylston Street in downtown Boston.