The star really is a ‘Pearl’ to her mother


Debbie Allen will play the wicked, pop-star stepmother to her daughter, who has come home to star in “Pearl” at the Geffen Playhouse.

Vivian Nixon, 18, is taking a break from her freshman year at New York’s Fordham University to re-create the role she originated when the dance-driven, modernized version of “Snow White” premiered in Washington, D.C.

“When I went to the school a couple of times, I had to hide, because she does not want people to know,” Allen says. “She wants to be on her own. I watched a dance class and I had a hat on, and she walked right by me and said, ‘Thanks, Mom, just blow my cover,’ ” she adds with a burst of laughter. “I respect it.”


Nixon, who is studying with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, will appear in about half of the performances as Pearl, whose singing voice outshines that of Allen’s Queen. Natalia Johnson from the Dance Theatre of Harlem will take over the role when Nixon isn’t there.

-- Valerie J. Nelson