Theater News

Andrea Burns: Living A Dolls Life

The Broadway veteran discusses playing Miss Adelaide in the John W. Engeman Theatre’s production of Guys and Dolls.

Thomas M. Hammond and Andrea Burnsin Guys and Dolls
(© AnnMarie Snyder)
Thomas M. Hammond and Andrea Burns
in Guys and Dolls
(© AnnMarie Snyder)

Andrea Burns‘ dynamic vocals and spot-on timing have made her a theatrical force to be reckoned with over the past 20 years in such roles as Maria in West Side Story, Vicki Nichols in The Full Monty, and, most recently, Daniela in the hit Broadway musical, In the Heights. Now she’s taking on one of musical theater’s most beloved roles, Miss Adelaide, in the John W. Engeman Theater’s production of Guys and Dolls. TheaterMania recently spoke with the actress about the classic musical.

THEATERMANIA: What have you been up to since your final performance in In the Heights?
ANDREA BURNS: I’ve been working on a couple of original new projects. I did a workshop of a show called Buddy’s Tavern, which is based on this fantastic movie called Two Family House. I have been doing some concerts and things like that. But the best part about it has been having some family time. We all went to Disney World, which was the thrill of a lifetime for my seven-year-old son. He loved all of it.

TM: How does it feel to jump into a regional production after working on Broadway for so long?
AB: It’s been pretty interesting to put up a full production in a little over ten days. I had to adopt a whole new skill set for that. Luckily, we have a lot of wonderful Broadway anchors here. Plus, the show is being directed by my husband, Peter Flynn, and it’s choreographed by Marcos Santana, who is an extraordinarily gifted dancer.

TM: What was your first experience with Guys and Dolls?
AB: I saw the incredible 1992 Broadway production with Faith Prince and Nathan Lane — it was so extraordinary and colorful, and just comedically so zany and brilliant. So I had an amazing impression of the show, but it’s something that I had never really thought about doing. When this opportunity came my way, I was tickled at the thought of getting to play such a wonderful character in the canon of musical theater. It’s been a delightful surprise all the way, I’m really enjoying it.

TM: Miss Adelaide is such an iconic role. How does that add an additional challenge to playing her?
AB: In accepting the role, that was my concern. I thought, ‘What am I going to bring to it?’ Then a wonderful thing happened. My son’s elementary school did a production of Guys and Dolls. We’re talking about the all fifth grade version which I went to see, and this is not a performing arts school. It’s just regular kids doing the show with so much passion and commitment. So, there was this little 10-year old brunette as Adelaide, who was fabulous in her own right. And I thought, ‘Well, if she’s killing it and making it her own, then maybe I can too!’ That helped a lot. No one can touch Vivian Blaine or Faith Prince; those are iconic performances. Luckily, when a role is written as beautifully as Adelaide is, you find that there is a lot of room in there for any kind of personality to step in there and make it their own.

TM: What is your dream theatrical role?

AB: It would be really cool to do Diana in Next to Normal. That would definitely take a lot of emotional stamina, but I just think it’s such a great show, and the writers put together such a fantastic role. It would just be wonderful to get a shot at it. Hopefully there’s time for that — I’m sure it’s going to be done all over the country for years to come.

TM: Do you have any advice for theatergoers going through In the Heights withdrawal?

AB. I think some of us In the Heights people are going through our own withdrawal. We’re all missing seeing each other every day. Play those YouTube clips and listen to the recording, and remember the good old days!