Interview: Tina Burner, Alexis Michelle & Scarlet Envy on Taking WITCH PERFECT Worldwide With Blake Allen

The trio kicked off their international tour last night at Troupe429 in Norwalk, CT.

By: Sep. 29, 2023
Interview: Tina Burner, Alexis Michelle & Scarlet Envy on Taking WITCH PERFECT Worldwide With Blake Allen

Tina Burner, Alexis Michelle, and Scarlet Envy kicked off their 2023 Witch Perfect tour at Troupe429 in Norwalk, CT on Thursday, September 28.

Burner stars as Winifred, with Envy as Sarah and Michelle as Mary, the witchy Sanderson Sisters who come back from the dead for one last chance at eternal youth.

An all-new take on the fan favorite Disney film includes hits originally sung by Kylie Minogue and Madonna; along with songs from The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Gypsy, Cats, and Wicked—and, of course, "I Put a Spell on You" is included, too.

The musical performance features music direction, arrangements, and orchestrations by Broadway's Blake Allen, joining the trio as they will embark on an international tour this Halloween season, making stops in New York City, New Orleans, Scotland, Ireland, and more.

After two sold-out shows, BroadwayWorld headed upstairs above Troupe429 to sit down with the witches in John Gram Photo Studio, a full-service professional photography studio owned and operated by John Gram, who has photographed over 35 RuPaul’s Drag Race queens, including Mrs. Kasha Davis, Darienne Lake, and Alexis Michelle from the recent All Stars 8 season.

Read about how Burner and Allen have updated the show for 2023, how they hope their tour inspires others Drag Race alums, their Broadway dream roles, and much more below!

So how does it feel? This is the first night, how are you guys feeling at the start of this new tour?

Alexis Michelle: It's really wild. It feels like we've been doing it for a whole year because we did it last spooky season.

Blake Allen: But we have so many amazing changes.

Alexis: It feels really refreshed and alive.

Tina Burner: It does feel like a different show, but it's just updated, you know?

There are so many great moments specific to 2023, like "Padam, Padam." What was it like updating the show this year?

Blake: We thought that, with this gorgeous new costume design, how can we make this better? Let's add "Thriller," we'll make it disco. Scarlet does pop songs. Let's add the hit of the summer, "Padam, Padam." We've been doing this for several years, so every year we try to add the new pop standard of that year.

Tina: The big thing was this year was like, we wanted to give the audience more. A lot of places we go, they're always like, "Oh, we want more." So we're like, "Alright, we'll give them an intermission, we'll give them brand-new costumes." It was our big thing to just add things that were pop culture fun. My biggest thing when I thought about this –

Scarlet Envy: Was her hair.

Tina: Was my hair, obviously. Second biggest thing is I've always wanted to do a remix of "Thriller" and make it with the witches. And Blake was like, "Why don't we do it disco?" It was this cool disco vibe that we decided to add to the show.

Blake: Then we hired my Broadway friends and so we added violin and cello and guitar and just made it all disco-y.

Alexis: I gotta say, Blake's orchestrations sound richer than ever.

Tina: I'm not throwing tea or any shade to any shows that you go to see, but the differences with our show, not only are we giving you a full-on, new production, we're giving you full orchestrations, costume changes.

Blake: Live musicians.

Tina: That's the thing, we support live musicians. With everything that's going on, we make sure that we do that. We give back to the community through that, as well. We're not just ripping anything off the internet. Every number that we do on stage, although it's a retelling of what it is, it's done with live orchestrations and musicians.

Scarlet: We love GarageBand, too, but... [laughs]

Interview: Tina Burner, Alexis Michelle & Scarlet Envy on Taking WITCH PERFECT Worldwide With Blake Allen
Alexis Michelle, Tina Burner, Scarlet Envy, and Blake Allen

Alexis, it was 11 o'clock number after 11 o'clock number from you tonight.

Alexis: Okay, full tea. Last year, I kept saying, "Tina, can I see the script? What songs am I doing?" She would not let us see until our first read-through. And we did it, and I was like, "Tina, what are you trying to do to me with all these numbers?" She was like, "No mother, I gave them to you because you can do it."

Blake: But also, first rehearsal, Alexis cried after every number.

Alexis: No, I did not!

Blake: You were like, "I always wanted to be Elphaba and I can never be Elphaba. Here's my chance to actually be Elphaba."

How does that feel for you, Alexis? It's such an incredible moment to be on stage singing those songs from Wicked and Into the Woods.

Alexis: The truth is, the numbers are great, but what really makes this experience great is working with these three people and the show that Tina and Blake wrote. It's a joy to perform. I mean, the audience laughs and eats it up everywhere we go and it's a testament to the way this thing has been crafted.

Interview: Tina Burner, Alexis Michelle & Scarlet Envy on Taking WITCH PERFECT Worldwide With Blake Allen
Scarlet Envy, Tina Burner, and Alexis Michelle

What about you three do you think works so well? How do you work together?

Scarlet: Well, I've known these girls for a long, long time long before any of us did Drag Race. We go way back before any of us did Drag Race. We were New York City queens.

Tina: We never actually all worked together. That's the funny thing about it. A lot of us had different gigs. I had been in Hell's Kitchen, Scarlet had done Brooklyn and like Alexis had done other gigs as well in the city. The thing is, none of us had ever had a project that we worked on together. Although we were all from New York, at the time we never had a vehicle that showed off everything we did so it was kind of weird. Last year, when we threw it all together I said, "Blake, you know what the craziest thing is about this story? It's that none of us have actually really worked together."

People will have these conceptions about who we are as people. But the thing is, with these two, I've never been more comfortable working with two other people. Blake and I have worked on so many projects together and we're so comfortable with each other as writers and producers and stuff like that. But we all fell into this weird group, even at the first rehearsal, we just fell into this lovely handle between all of us.

Blake: We also wrote it for the three of you.

Scarlet: I think I would say the answer is the casting. That's the key here. The casting is key because we fall into our characters which are kind of ourselves, kind of not. We turned up volumes of ourselves, I guess but the casting is really important.

Alexis: I remember when Tina called me and asked me to do it, I didn't ask where we were going, I didn't ask about money. I said, "I'm in." I said, "Who is gonna play Sarah?" and she said Scarlet and I said "That's perfect." While we hadn't worked together, I did hit on Tina Berner on Fire Island one time. I wanted those cookies.

Scarlet: We're all learning something here tonight on BroadwayWorld.

Interview: Tina Burner, Alexis Michelle & Scarlet Envy on Taking WITCH PERFECT Worldwide With Blake Allen
Alexis Michelle, Tina Burner, and Scarlet Envy

And now you guys are going international. What are you most looking forward to going to?

Tina: Well, not before we leave the States. We still have a few amazing cities here in the States. We have New York. We're doing Sony Hall on October 4.

Blake: Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Tina: I don't know what it is about Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We put the tickets on sale and it sold out in a day. The second show, sold out in a day. I think the biggest thing for us from last year was that we had conquered everything in the US. We did all that. We talked about if we're gonna do it again, what can we do? I was just like, "Bitch, we gotta go international." We had talked about it and we put that first date up and like we've added so many since then. We're doing Amsterdam, we're doing Ireland, and we're doing Canada.

Alexis: And we can't wait to do New Orleans before we go. Such a rich, cultural city. They're gonna love it.

Tina: We're doing all these places that we haven't done it. Next year, I would love to do Australia, I would love to do Asia, I would love to do all these other places and I think there's time year after year to rebuild the show and focus on taking it into different markets. That's what we hope to do.

Scarlet: I don't know if I should say this to BroadwayWorld, but I'm going to anyway. It's really hard to produce a tour. There's a lot of people who are feeding off of the magic that is people who come out of Drag Race and it's really hard to take the reins and produce something that you know is deserving of it and I think that's something that Tina has done specifically as a producer is taking the reins. It's very difficult to do that and she's been very successful at that. I hope that it's inspiring to other people from the franchise to take fate into your own hands and not wait.

Alexis: [Tina] is one of the hardest working workhorses in the business, between the writing that Blake and Tina did and the producing that they've done. Scarlet and I both said it last year that we will do this every year. It's that good and it's fun.

Tina: You have to realize, a lot of the girls get off Drag Race and you're saying like, "The world is open, we can do this." What people don't realize is how hard it is. Blake and I had to cultivate this whole tour and do it to make it happen. If you wait for people to make it happen, it's not going to happen. Between being writing partners, Blake and myself, we're able to make this happen. So we're happy to bring these two along because this has been a joy. I know we can all agree, every show was just so much fun.

Scarlet: Artists have to make art. Creators have to create. That's what we do or you cease to exist.

Alexis: And as much fun as we're having on stage, we're having that much fun backstage.

Interview: Tina Burner, Alexis Michelle & Scarlet Envy on Taking WITCH PERFECT Worldwide With Blake Allen
Scarlet Envy

You had your opening night here in Norwalk, CT. It's amazing to see you guys here. What do you enjoy the most about kicking off the tour at Troupe429?

Alexis: We opened the tour last year here at Troupe429, as well. Coming to Troupe is like coming home. It's like coming to family. We're not from Connecticut, but the sense of community and the sense of like a safe queer space that the family here at Troupe has built is very special. This was the first place that all of us played post-pandemic, during the pandemic. This was the first live performance in front of people and when I tell you the life, the restorative quality that that gave all of us as entertainers is something I will never forget for the rest of my life.

Scarlet: Casey Fitzpatrick and Nicholas Ruiz have put together a beautiful community here.

Tina: And the thing is, we all know how hard it is to keep a space alive, to keep gay bars and everything alive because of everything that's going on in our world. Nicholas and Casey have created that and every time they've asked me, I will make this our first stop in any tour we do because they lead with love, they lead with kindness, and they set a path for people to realize what gay culture is and what it should be. We play thousand, two thousand seat theaters. I much prefer to sit here amongst a community because it leads with love and it's what we should start our tour off with.

Blake: Also, as a writer, it's great to come here because we feel safe to go, "This worked, this didn't." It's the intimate setting. All these comedians always go to like the home place.

Tina: That's what you do. You try your shit out and stuff like that and that's why we will always be here at Troupe429.

Before we finish, I want to go around and ask everyone what their Broadway dream role is.

Tina: Mama Rose. Mama Rose down because I am Mama Rose. Following in the Bette Midler but the Patti LuPone of it all. Or Company. I'm definitely an Elaine Stritch, but it's Mama Rose.

Scarlet: I have to say, probably Elphaba because she's the villain. She's the iconic villain. A misunderstood woman but the villain. There's a power in the villain. I think we need to harness the power in the villain. So I would say Elphaba.

Alexis: It's a very tough call between Mrs. Lovett and Miss Hannigan. There's a reason that she is childless and partnerless and I think, dramaturgically, it could work.

Tina: I think a quick second alternate would probably be like any of the ladies in Six. We love a musical without an intermission. 69 minutes. We all have dinner and reservations to get to!

Watch a preview of Witch Perfect here:

About Troupe429:

Troupe429 is an award-winning, gay-owned bar & performance space located in a historic building at 3 Wall Street, Norwalk, Connecticut. Open 5 days a week serving up tasty cocktails, craft beers, and frozen slushies with fabulous decor, darts, video games, and a Wizard of Oz pinball.

Don’t miss happy hour, karaoke Wednesdays, trivia Sundays, drag show Fridays, DJ dance floors - we’ve got your weekly fun! Founded in 2017, Troupe429 is home to the most RuPaul's Drag Race queens in CT! For updates, follow on social media @Troupe429.

Photos: John Gram Photos, @johngramphotos

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