Actress Adrienne C. Moore may be known for playing the tough-talking (yet joyous) inmate Black Cindy on the hit Netflix prison drama “Orange Is the New Black.” But these days, for Moore, yellow is the new orange.
The Nashville native recently retired her “Orange” jumpsuit (the show’s seventh and final season began streaming this summer). Now she’s clad in a bright yellow dress, cast as Lady in Yellow, one of seven female characters in the Off-Broadway revival of Ntozake Shange’s “for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf,” directed by Leah C. Gardiner, choregraphed by Camille A. Brown, and playing at the Public Theater in a limited run (extended through Dec. 8).
Shange’s beloved “choreopoem” — a mix of dramatic storytelling, poetry, dance and song — premiered at the Public in 1976, earned widespread acclaim and moved to Broadway, where it ran for nearly two years. Shange died last year, but her tales of women’s sisterhood still feel current. (You get the sense Black Cindy would’ve loved this show.)
Moore, 38, recently spoke with Newsday contributor Joseph V. Amodio.
This production is moving, powerful, and we’ll get to that. But first — how hungry are you after the show?
Ravenous! (She laughs.) I can’t eat too close to the show, or I’ll be lethargic. So I eat around two or three o’clock. After the show a lot of us…pig out on pork chops, steak, burgers. Ohhhh, we can’t have enough.
I figured. The show opens with a rhythmic dance number, and builds from there. You’re getting plenty of cardio.
I always say I view the theater like it’s my gym. This literally has become that. It requires so much from us physically, emotionally. It’s the hardest show I’ve worked on in theater. And I’ve done Shakespeare in the Park, out there with the raccoons and the heat.
Each cast member wears a dress bearing the face of a significant woman in your life. Yours is…
My paternal grandmother, Mabel Moore, who was a Leo, just like me. Her birthday was in August. As a kid, I always thought she was just mean and strict. A disciplinarian. After she passed, and I grew older, I learned all these stories of her. She raised 11 children, plus a lot of kids in the neighborhood who’d just wander into the house. I remember my dad telling me this story how they used to live in a three-room house. Not a three-bedroom house. Three rooms. Things got pretty tight. My grandfather played for the Negro Baseball Leagues, so he was gone a lot, and my grandmother, in a time when women couldn’t sign for homes, found a realtor and a house and held the house till my grandfather got home to sign the deed. I think about the women (in this play) and the trials and tribulations they go through — I knew I wanted someone (on my dress) who represented strength, perseverance. For me, she represents that. She’s a true Leo, like me.
I had a grandmother named Mabel, too.
Get out! I love it!
It’s interesting how memories of certain relatives can inspire you.
I have to be honest — there are times where I’m just like, man, this show is taking a lot out of me. I don’t know if I have it in me tonight. But then something happens…at the top of the show. It takes me through, for sure.
There are similarities between this play and “Orange,” like the large number of women in the cast and crew. How do you think that TV series prepared you for this?
I love working in ensembles. There’s strength in numbers. Working in an ensemble of women on “Orange” definitely taught me that there’s beauty in every story, and there’s strength in a multitude of storylines, as opposed to telling just one. Look at the face of our world today. “Orange” caught on like wildfire because if one character’s story didn’t connect to you, somebody else’s story did. People saw themselves in those women. Similarly, with “for colored girls,” there’s at least one story that’ll resonate with you — or several.
Have you talked to “Orange” creator Jenji Kohan about Black Cindy getting her own spin-off series?
Ahaaa! (She laughs.)
I’m kind of hoping for that.
Uh, no, But I’d like us to come back a few years from now and do a “where are they now?” movie. Like with Taystee (played by Danielle Brooks) — will she finally get the retribution she’s owed? Will Cindy get the relationship with her daughter she desires? I love how the show ended with some bows tied up, but some weren’t. I think a movie would answer questions people have about where they are after prison.