Allison SemmesDiana Ross, Motown the Musical
We’re talking—or rather singing!—all things musical theatre this issue. With our summer swim tribute to Bob Fosse, we chatted with actress Allison Semmes who knows a thing or two about setting your inner diva free. Afterall, Allison is playing the role of Diana Ross in the national tour of Motown the Musical. Born in Hyde Park, the Chicago native began singing at 6-years-old as part of the Chicago Children’s Choir. Fast forward a few years, and she began taking on roles in The Book of Mormon and The Color Purple. Now, how’s that for a hometown hero?
Allison dishes on how her role as the the lead Supreme has inspired her everyday life, from beauty to fashion. This self-proclaimed bohemian beatnik is full of energy on and off stage. Read on to learn her pre-show routine, the one role she’s dying to play and how she creates Diana Ross’s big bedroom eyes.
BEAUTY MUST-HAVES>> scent: AROMA WORKSHOP // concealer: BENEFIT BO-ING // face: NARS PURE RADIANT TINTED MOISTURIZER in CUBA // mascara: BENEFIT BAD GAL LASH // lips: BUXOM FULL-BODIED LIPS in BOO-YA // nails: OPI’S KISS ME I’M BRAZILIAN
The music of MOTOWN: THE MUSICAL is obviously so iconic—as a youngster, do you have any special memories of songs from the show?
I grew up listening to Motown and the Supremes long before I even knew who they were, so I was familiar with their tunes at a young age. When I was very young, I thought the words to “Stop in the Name of Love” were “Stop in the Neighborhood!” I’m glad I finally got the words right!
Forget the music—the costume design for this show is fantastic. If you could take one piece with you after you finish the tour, what piece would it be?
My ultimate favorite gown is the Gold “Good Morning Heartache.” I feel like 20 million bucks in it. If I could take home a more functional everyday piece, it would definitely be the signature big Diana hair lace wig!
Diana Ross is a beauty muse for many—how do you capture her look?
Diana Ross is known for her big bedroom eyes. I have almond shaped eyes, so to give my eyes an extra pop for the stage, I line my lower waterline with white or nude eyeliner and black liner outside of it. Then I glue a thick lash on top and voila! I’m truly a makeup minimalist, but I admit I’m falling in love with the lashes and the eye makeup from the show. I’ve started to line and double lash my bottom lashes in everyday life but balancing it out with a nude shiny lip and little bronzer.
What is your pre-show routine?
Pre-show, I like to flow through a few vinyasa poses on my yoga mat in my dressing room then dance to Motown music on Spotify to refresh my ear for the style. Also, putting on makeup is very calming and therapeutic. It feels as if time slows down.
You’ve been in Chicago since the beginning of May—what are your favorite places that you’ve discovered?
Last week, I fell in love with JellyFish. And haven’t found a park yet that I didn’t love.
Once this tour ends, if you could kick back and take a 2-week vacation—where would you go?
I would travel to France! From the countryside to the French Riviera to Paris.
We’re dying to know: Musical role you’d love to play?
I have always loved Sweet Charity! I love Bob Fosse’s style. The music is too much fun, and the character Charity is just a ball of joy, tragedy and hope. She seems like she would fun to play.
CATCH ALLISON IN MOTOWN THE MUSICAL, THROUGH AUGUST 9TH AT THE ORIENTAL THEATRE, CHICAGO. MORE DETAILS AND TICKETS HERE.
WANT MORE MUSICAL FUN? CHECK OUT #GFMUSICAL SUMMER SWIM SHOOT.