*The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Trenyce Cobbins, the singer who battled against the likes of Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken and Kimberley Locke on season 2 of “American Idol” more than eight years ago – when she was known simply as “Trenyce.”
Today, she follows in the footsteps of fellow “Idol” standouts Fantasia, Diana DeGarmo, Ace Young, Justin Guarini, Jordin Sparks and Constantine Maroulis who have starred in theatrical musicals. While they have all appeared on Broadway, Trenyce is about to light up London’s West End as the female lead in Thriller Live, a musical that pays tribute to the late Michael Jackson.
Below is an excerpt from her interview with The Hollywood Reporter:
THR: You’re one of the lead singers performing Michael’s songs in the show. But you’re the only woman. How does the audience react to a female singer singing MJ’s songs?
Trenyce: Most people immediately hold their breath, and I don’t blame them! It’s MJ! But knowing that, it gives me that extra push to be as great as I know I can be and win them over. And when I get a roaring applause at the end of the night, I know that they have approved! The good part about performing his songs for me is that I get to be the part of Michael that was bold, sexy, and in your face, as well as sensitive. I feel very powerful knowing I have the opportunity to stand there with three guys and hold my own.
THR: You’re the only American lead in the show. Lots of Idols have starred on Broadway or have done national tours in the U.S. How did you find yourself in London?
Trenyce: The opportunity first came up a while ago when I was doing Ain’t Misbehavin’ with Ruben Studdard and Frenchie Davis, but at the time I was committed to that show. A year later I was asked again to do Thriller Live but my manager wasn’t happy about sending me away when we were focused on me getting work in the States, so I passed. In June 2010 I was asked again and this time the casting director convinced me it was a good idea and would give me the chance to see the world and establish myself as an artist in another country, so I took the opportunity. I’m glad I did because I’ve seen and learned a lot!
THR: What is your life like here in London?
Trenyce: Quite enjoyable. It took me a while to settle in. Patina Miller, who is starring in Sister Act on Broadway, told me it would. But now I have my bearings and I’ve created a really nice life, one that will follow me for years because I have established friendships and professional relationships that will last a lifetime. I work every day except Monday, our dark day, and do two shows on Saturday and Sunday. I go to see other shows, usually matinees, with our cast. We hang out together for drinks and meals at Balans in Soho, right around the corner from the Lyric Theatre. I explore different neighborhoods and culture in London and still have so much more to see and do. I’ve done the touristy thing like the London Eye, the Thames, the museums and the tube. But what I enjoy the most is — shopping! The fashion culture here is an art. I love it! My absolute turn-off about London is the weather.
THR: Do British audiences recognize you from “American Idol”? Do a lot of tourists from the U.S. come to see you?
Trenyce: Lots of people here have recognized me! I wasn’t aware of the impact of American Idol in the U.K. until I got here. Many people wait after the show to say “I recognize you,” “Glad you did this show,” “You’ve grown so much since Idol,” “You look better in person” – it’s quite funny sometimes, because I forget that Idol was ever shown anywhere outside the States, so when people recognize me I say, “Wow, what a great memory you have!” And of course it is always a pleasure to have people you know visit from the States! A little dose of home always makes a show that much better.
THR: What’s next for Trenyce?
Trenyce: I am always aiming for the next big thing, but God has a way of showing me a better picture than I could ever paint. I will never stop aspiring to make an album, but other than that, who knows? I wear so many business hats and they all fit quite nicely. My mom wants me to have a family next — we’ll see!
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