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Destiny’s Child singer: Beyonce didn’t hog Super Bowl spotlight

Michelle Williams stars as Sandrnational touring producti'FELA!'

Michelle Williams stars as Sandra in the national touring production of "FELA!"

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‘FELA!’

♦ Feb. 19-23

♦ Arie Crown Theatre, 2301 S. Lake Shore Drive

♦ Tickets, $20-$70

♦ (800) 745-3000;
www.broadwayinchicago.com

Updated: March 16, 2013 6:19AM



It’s like they never said goodbye.

Watching Beyonce, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams perform during the Super Bowl halftime show brought back serious Destiny’s Child memories for fans of the former pop music threesome. Hot on the heels of their new single “Nuclear,” Williams is continuing in the national touring production of “FELA!,” based on the life of the iconic musician Fela Kuti, father of the Afrobeat music movement. Williams stars as Sandra Isadore, the fiercely independent activist and Kuti’s love interest.

A native of Rockford, Ill., Williams talked to the Sun-Times about music, her love of the theater, and chocolate chip pancakes.

Question:What was it like to reunite with Kelly and Beyonce for the Super Bowl halftime show?

Michelle Williams: It was just absolutely so much fun. In rehearsals we were just out of control having fun. It was just us being the giddy young women that we were when we first met each other. When you get back with your girlfriends it’s this special freedom you have to just be goofy around each other. We just picked up where we left off. It was the same feeling when we were in the studio recording “Nuclear.” We still sounded amazing together. It’s this divine connection we have.

Q.Some critics blogged that Beyonce seemed to hog the spotlight. There was even some criticism about the way you and Kelly were propelled onto the stage.

MW: It was her halftime show. We did what we did for the Destiny’s Child medley. That’s why we were there. I don’t see it at all as her hogging anything. People have been accusing her of that for years and it’s simply not true. It’s stupid. In Destiny’s Child, we would all do interviews together. I was on the same private jets she was on. I got the same big hotel suites she got. We had the same hair and makeup artists. The dynamics of Destiny’s Child work; sometimes you just know your role. I came to the group when it was already established and working perfectly. So I wasn’t about to come in and start moving things around, you know? It’s like me coming to your house and saying why don’t you hang that picture over on that wall? As for our entrance, we did those “toasters” [pop-ups] because we did it on the last Destiny’s Child tour and she knows it was one of our favorite things to do.

Q.Any talk of you and Kelly joining Beyonce on her tour?

MW: She has not asked us. But she knows that whenever she asks, we said we would work on each others’ projects and albums.

Q.Do the three of you really keep in touch?

MW: We absolutely keep in touch. All of us do. If I’m in New York, and if Beyonce is there, we’re going out to dinner. If I’m in Miami or L.A., I’m over at Kelly’s house.

Q. There are so many boy bands floating around these days — not so much to speak of when it comes to girl groups, such as those prevalent in the ’50s and ’60s. What’s the secret to being a successful girl group?

MW: You have to be respectful of one another and have each others’ backs at all time. We’re women, we can be catty; but we never argued in Destiny’s Child. Seriously. We had disagreements, mostly over the small stuff like who wants this color costume or that color costume, but we knew each other’s colors and we went with it at the end of the day. You just come to know and respect each other for who they are. They know I’m not a morning person. I know Kelly is up at the crack of dawn and will bring you breakfast in bed with a big smile on her face. Beyonce is fiercely focused when she’s in business mode; when she’s in that mode she’s totally inside her head and that’s her space. So you learn those kinds of things about each other and that’s what helps you be successful, in addition to all the music.

Q.You’ve done some pretty heady musical theater, including the role of Shug Avery in “The Color Purple” on Broadway and Roxie in “Chicago” in London’s West End. Now you’re starring as another equally strong woman, Sandra Isadore in “FELA!” How did the road lead to this production?

MW: I met director Bill T. Jones at an audition for another show he’s directing and afterward they asked me to join “FELA!” and I immediately said yes because I really wanted to do this role. I talked to the real Sandra, who lives in L.A. now, on the phone and via email and she was exactly who I knew she would be — serious and strong. She’d have to be for Fela to pay her any attention! I love that about her. A friend of mine who was a true “FELA!” enthusiast got me interested in the show and I was like, why didn’t I know abou this music when I was five years old!

Q.What’s the one thing you must do while you’re back in Chicago?

MW: I just want to eat the food! I love the Original Pancake House. I LOVE their chocolate chip pancakes because the batter is chocolate!

Q.What are your guilty pleasures when it comes to television?

MW: I am a HUGE “Scandal” fan. And a love “Nashville.” I don’t care if I’m in the studio. I’m like I gotta go, “Scandal” is on.

Q.What are you listening to these days?

MW: I listen to everything. I love James Taylor. And I’m so glad Justin Timberlake is recording again. I love him. I also really like Sting.



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