Versatile Loretta is quite the divine talent 

“I’ve been so blessed!” says the aptly named Loretta Devine when you mention her extensive list of credits.

From popcorn flicks like the “Urban Legends” franchise to animation voice-overs (“The PJs”) and Oscar-winning ensemble dramas like “Crash,” Devine — who sings at San Francisco’s Rrazz Room this weekend — is a consistently welcome and winning presence in entertainment.

A hallmark of her craft is the no-nonsense, sometimes-piercing honesty and clarity that emanates from the characters she plays, like Adele Webber on “Grey’s Anatomy.”

“I always try to work in the moment, and I’ve had scripts from really great writers like David Kelley, Greg Berlanti and Shonda Rhimes,” Devine says, citing the creative forces behind her series “Boston Public,” “Eli Stone” and “Grey’s.”

Early in her career, Devine struck out twice in New York, first with a legendary one-night flop (“A Broadway Musical”) and then the short-lived “Comin’ Uptown,” an all-black update of “A Christmas Carol” that starred Gregory Hines.

She was third-time lucky, landing the role of Lorrell Robinson in Michael Bennett’s “Dreamgirls” in 1981.

“Michael always babied me,” Devine says. “I always thought I was his favorite, whether it was true or not!”

Devine was the only one of the show’s principals to make an appearance in the film version made 25 years later. “In my head I thought that the original [‘Dreamgirls’] — Jennifer [Holliday], Sheryl [Lee Ralph] and I — would play the girls’ mothers in some way. Obviously that didn’t happen!”

She’ll likely reference the musical from the Rrazz Room stage, though now Devine says, jokingly, “After the movie, come on! I don’t think anyone sees me when they think about ‘Dreamgirls’! It’s a whole new day.”

The Houston native and NAACP-lauded actress moves easily and regularly between the small and big screens. She drew rave reviews for her work in “Waiting to Exhale,” playing an overweight single mother who finds unexpected romance with a character played by Hines.

“I’m prayin’ somebody wants to do that, because all of us girls are available,” Devine says of the rumored idea of a film sequel from author and screenwriter Terry McMillan, which would revisit the four central characters 15 years later.

A powerful singer who generously donates her time to AIDS organizations and charitable events, Devine is humble and hopeful about her newest role as nightclub chanteuse.

“I was in San Francisco and the owners of the Rrazz Room approached me and I decided to try it,” she says. “I get so nervous about singing because there are all these young girls who are so fabulous. I want to be somewhat contemporary, but I also want to hold onto my Broadway music, so I’ve been working on this show for about nine months. I just hope people like it.”


IF YOU GO
Loretta Devine

Where: Rrazz Room, Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. today-Saturday; 7 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $40
Contact: (866) 468-3399, www.therrazzroom.com

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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