By Deardra Shuler
Tony Award winner Adriane Lenox was enjoying herself as she chatted with me on my radio show “Topically Yours,” on the BlakeRadio Network. Ms. Lenox most recently appeared on Broadway in “Doubt” at the Walter Kerr Theatre in New York. “Doubt” ran a year and a half before closing on July 2nd. Lenox recently appeared in her own club act at The Triad on Father’s Day, June 18th, featuring guest artists Dennis Collins, Kecia Lewis of The Drowsy Chaperone and Tony nominated performer Michael McElroy (Big River). Her show opened with Lenox’s daughter, Crystal Joy, who sang several songs, including one she wrote entitled “With Or Without You.” Lenox’s show proved to be a family affair when Adriane’s husband, Zane Mark, musical dance arranger for Broadway’s “All Shook Up,” served as her musical director.
“It was amazing to win the Tony Award for my performance as Mrs. Muller in “Doubt.” Especially, since I was only in a 12 minute scene. It was my year for awards because I also won the Drama Desk Award and the Lucille Lortel Award for my portrayal in “Doubt.” John Patrick Shanley wrote the play. I guess you know about all the controversial publicity concerning Catholic priests accused of molesting children. “Doubt” is about a priest who spends a lot of time with a young black boy, who is the first African American attending the school. I played the role of the boy’s mother. It was a good part and fantastic show,” stated Adriane who is originally from Tennessee and known mostly for her work in musical theatre. “Doubt” was the first dramatic role wherein I didn’t sing. I actually got my start straight out of college. In fact, it was the play “Ain’t Misbehavin’ that brought me to NY where I now reside. After graduating from college with a degree in Drama, I went straight into “Ain’t Misbehavin.’ I later performed in Dream Girls” stated Lenox.
Adriane could always sing. “In my hometown in Tennessee, I used to do Easter plays, Christmas pageants and sing in the choir. I went to Lambuth College in Jackson, Tennessee and got a degree in Drama.”
Adriane has also appeared on Broadway in “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying”; “Kiss Me Kate” (a depiction of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew”); and is best known for her performance in off-Broadway’s “Dinah Was” a play about famed singer Dinah Washington. “People still approach me from my role in “Dinah Was.” I played a multiple character part in that show. I played Dinah’s mother, her Girl Friday, and a young girl who worked in the kitchen of the Sahara Hotel where Dinah was headlining. The play portrays how Dinah, although headlining at the time, was barred from being a guest in the hotel, instead they put her out in a trailer. In the play, Dinah sits in the lobby of the hotel and protests her treatment,” shared Lenox about the play. “I was also in The Buddy Holly Story. I have generally come into plays as a replacement. There is only three shows where I began in the original cast.” explained the talented singer/actress.
Ms. Lenox appeared in the New York premiere of Miss Evers Boys, although it was also featured as an HBO movie. “That play was about the experiments done on Black men in Alabama. Though the men thought they were being cured of syphilis, the medical establishment was actually withholding the penicillin that could cure them. They were using them as guinea pigs to see how the disease affected black people versus other people. My character, Miss Evers, was a young woman who was duped by the doctors into keeping the men in the program which unfortunately eventually kill them. It was the lovely, yet sad story, about this woman who actually thought she was helping the men.” explained Adriane. Ms. Lenox appeared in “Cave dweller, Spunk, and Susan Lori Park’s play “The Venus Hottentot.” “The Venus Hottentot was based on a tribe in Africa, the Hottentots, whose people had very large backsides. One of the Hottentot women was brought to England where the doctors became fascinated by the size of her butt. She was put in a circus where people came to view her as a freak just because she had a big butt. The play is based on a true event. I don’t know how true this is, but I heard that the women in Europe were so fascinated by the big butt, that the bustle fashion was created as a result.”
Lenox’s TV appearances include Law & Order and SVU. “Most of the Law & Orders episodes are shot in NY and are often taken right out of newspaper headlines. I have played different people at different times on the show. One time, I played an episode that was based on the club shooting headlines that involved P Diddy and Jennifer Lopez. Usually, I play the role of a distraught black women,” laughed Adriane
On July 6th, Adriane Lenox begins work on Most Wanted, the story of Andrew Cunanan, killer of fashion designer Versace. She may tour with “Doubt” in September and her movie “Black Snake Moan” with Samuel L. Jackson, is due out September 15th.