Broadway's Donell James Foreman Pays Tribute To Whitney Houston, Prince

Curtis M. Wong
HuffPost

When Broadway performer Donell James Foreman began planning his New York solo concert debut, he wanted to honor two of his biggest artistic influences, Whitney Houston and Prince.  

Foreman, who currently stars in “The Book of Mormon,” and his musical director Eric Fotre Leach gave HuffPost a sneak peek at their show with a soulful mashup of Houston’s “Why Does It Hurt So Bad” and Prince’s “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore?” 

The concert, which Foreman has titled “The Dirty Thirty Tour, or Play-List: A Pop Music Memoir,” will use those songs as well as music made famous by Janet Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Madonna to trace the actor-singer’s offstage personal journey. Foreman began working on the show earlier this year after returning to his native New York from Melbourne, Australia, where he was performing in the Aussie production of “The Book of Mormon,” to care for his ailing father.

“During that time, there was this passion that ignited in me to do all of the things that you really, really want to do,” Foreman, whose credits include “Hairspray” and “Mamma Mia,” said. “When you’re looking at mortality in the face, you realize you don’t have all the time [in the world].”

On a brighter note, “The Dirty Thirty Tour” is a personal milestone for Foreman as a black gay man, too, given its diva-centric set list. 

Broadway's Donell James Foreman will perform “The Dirty Thirty Tour, or Play-List: A Pop Music Memoir” on March 19 at Feinstein's/54 Below in New York. (Donell James Foreman)
Broadway's Donell James Foreman will perform “The Dirty Thirty Tour, or Play-List: A Pop Music Memoir” on March 19 at Feinstein's/54 Below in New York. (Donell James Foreman)

“I’m drawn to these strong, fierce women because they showed their vulnerable sides and cried over boys,” he said. “Men don’t necessarily display that kind of sensitivity and vulnerability.” 

Meanwhile, the current political climate, he said, has made him “much more specific” about life. 

“I think it’s freeing. It’s liberating. It’s necessary.” 

Though Foreman would love to tackle Broadway’s “Hamilton” or “Once on this Island,” he believes his ultimate dream role hasn’t been written ― or, at least, produced commercially ― yet. Meanwhile, he’s “thrilled” to have joined the Broadway production of “The Book of Mormon” after returning from Australia. He’s also hopeful that he’ll get the chance to perform “The Dirty Thirty Tour, or Play-List” at other venues around New York once a month for a year after his Feinstein’s/54 Below bow.  

As for a message he’d like to impart on his “Dirty Thirty” audience, he said, “Don’t be afraid to really look inside and figure out who you are and what’s important to you. When all of those things are developed, the outside is easier.” 

Donell James Foreman performs “The Dirty Thirty Tour, or Play-List: A Pop Music Memoir” on March 19 at Feinstein’s/54 Below in New York. 

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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