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Star of “The Color Purple” and MHS Alum Adrianna Hicks Meets with MHS Students

Shane Mauldin|
Thursday, February 15, 2018
Adrianna Hicks (Celie) and the North American tour cast of THE COLOR PURPLE. Photo by Matthew Murphy, 2017.

Adrianna Hicks (Celie) and the North American tour cast of THE COLOR PURPLE. Photo by Matthew Murphy, 2017.

McKinney, Texas – Adrianna Hicks offers inspiration for every hometown high school theatre student who dreams of making it to Broadway. Hicks—who recently landed the lead role in the current North American tour of the Broadway hit “The Color Purple”—is a 2007 graduate of McKinney High School, a University of Oklahoma alum and a vocal powerhouse.

And, while her star is definitely on the rise, she’s no newcomer to the stage. She’s done turns on Broadway in “The Color Purple” and “Aladdin,” performed on stages in Europe and backed up Michael Bublé on tour.

Hicks as Celie on her knees singing with great emotion while looking skyward

Adrianna Hicks (Celie) and the North American tour cast of THE COLOR Purple. Photo by Matthew Murphy, 2017.

On Friday, January 26, three dates into a two-week run at the Music Hall at Fair Park, she belted out the show’s powerful, goosebump-inducing finale and brought the packed house to its feet.

The most enthusiastic cheers may have come from a contingent of some 70 choir and theatre students from MHS who got the chance to talk shop with Hicks and other cast members during a “talkback” session at the front of the stage after the show.

Once the house had emptied, Hicks emerged from the backstage area with other members of the cast and sat down at the edge of the stage to field questions. She graciously agreed to an on camera interview with MHS students and offered words of encouragement to those who hope to one day continue the journey to the professional stage, “Just breathe,” she told them. “Just breathe. Life is a process, and it’s a beautiful one, and if you try to rush through it, you will miss the treasures along the way. You are enough. You are beautiful. Just breathe. Do it!”

The three actresses standing shoulder to shoulder singing with cast in background

Carla R. Stewart (Shug Avery), Adrianna Hicks (Celie) and Carrie Compere (Sofia) and the North American tour cast of the THE COLOR PURPLE. Photo by Matthew Murphy, 2017.

She pointed out that when she was in high school, she never dreamed that she would end up where she has. “It’s crazy because when I went to college, I said, ‘I don’t care if I get any shows. I think I’m not going to get any shows. I just know I love to sing. I know that I love to perform, so I’m just going to do it.’ And, lo and behold, it’s just been a blessing along the way.”

She was also quick to point out that there have been a lot of people along the way who have shaped her career. “I’m so grateful for all of my professors, all of my teachers, every single mentor, every single family member [and] friend who has helped me to just be me and to pursue this dream,” she said.

Denise Tooch was one of them. She taught theatre at MHS for 11 years, and Hicks was one of her students. And, when Hicks saw her among the crowd during the talkback, she paused and apologized to the audience, “I’m sorry, I just saw my high school theatre teacher.” And, she rushed to greet Tooch with a heartfelt hug.

“Adrianna was in my first class of kids that I went all four years with,” Tooch said later. “She’s an amazing human being, and she deserves this. We’ve stayed connected, and I’ve followed her all the way through, and we talk. So, this is amazing for her. It’s exactly what she deserves. She’s a fantastic person and human being—but also a stunning [performer].”

Among the current MHS choir and theatre students, Hicks is something of a rock star, and MHS choir teacher Cindy Johnston, organized the trip to the show. “Our students were so very impressed with her,” Johnston said. “Very proud of her accomplishments—and inspired. And, they loved the show.”

“The Color Purple” North American tour runs through August.

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