Actor Keke Palmer made history when she made her Main Stem debut as Broadway’s first actor of color to play the titular princess in the 2012 production of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella. While Brandy had immortalized the role on screen (alongside Whitney Houston as her Fairy Godmother), Palmer brought her own sensibilities to the stage. She followed that with her take on Marty in Fox’s first live musical event, Grease: Live, wowing with her rendition of “Freddy My Love.” Now, she brings her musical theatre side to her pop career with the release of her new music video “Wind Up.” (Watch the video here.) Playbill asked Palmer about her theatrical influences and if she would make the journey back to Broadway.
Has musical theatre influenced your sound and aesthetic as a pop artist?
Musical theatre helped me embrace theatrics and storytelling more in my artistry. Doing musical theatre gave me added confidence and helped me see the beauty and purpose in combining the two worlds of sound and theatricality.
Was there a specific lesson from one of your theatrical collaborators that stuck with you?
I came to understand that there is a special camaraderie and acceptance for one another in musical theatre. I always felt a bit of it when acting for film and television, but I have never experienced it at such a highly inspirational level as I did with theatre.
Did any one of those people influence the creation of this video?
More so, the show itself inspired me in the creation of this video. The staging, the use of props, and the gags that are often used throughout musical theatre all played a part in my "wind up" visual.
Who are the theatre performers you watched growing up and most influenced you?
The performers I was most inspired by when I was growing up were local to where I was living in Chicago. They weren’t “name” actors and actresses, but I remember how moved I was by some great performances. I saw a Jackie Wilson musical show when I was about five in Chicago at the Black Ensemble Theater that truly blew me away. I will never forget the performer who played Jackie.
As you continue to put music out as a solo artist, where does theatre fit in to your career?
Putting music out fits into my career everywhere, because I believe it’s part of my world. My mom used to always say I reminded her of Judy Garland, and Judy always sang, danced, and acted, and I could do all three. I used to feel like I had to choose in order to be truly great at one of those art forms. As I got older, I realized that the fact that I love acting, singing, and dancing is what makes me me! They all feed and enhance the others, and it helps me be a better entertainer to nurture all three passions. Since then, my visions have been limitless.
Would you like to come back to Broadway?
Yes! I have an idea, but I can’t tell you! What I can say is that I would like it to be an original musical, and I cannot wait until I get the chance to come back.