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Rihanna, SNL: Singer Gets Theatrical, Plays Black Widow and Cleopatra in Broadway-Style Productions — Video

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Heading into this week’s “Saturday Night Live,” Rihanna drew criticism for looking bored in her promos with host Eli Manning. Now that the episode has aired, we have one possible explanation for her listless readings: The R&B superstar was busy thinking through the logistics of her two performances — “Talk That Talk” and “Where Have You Been” — both of which were Broadway-grade production numbers.

On “Talk That Talk” — prefaced by a tiny slice of “Birthday Cake” — RiRi and her crew completely transformed the SNL stage, turning the familiar Grand Central Station set into a glitzy black widow’s nest. As strobes flashed and her live band brought the electro-rock menace, the Bajan singer danced in front of a giant spiderweb, looking mean in an all-black — thigh-high boots, hot pants, mesh shirt and baseball cap — ensemble.

“Where Have You Been” had an ancient Middle Eastern, Egyptian-style vibe, and appropriately, Rihanna played the queen. She started the song on a leopard-skin-covered couch, where slaves fanned her with feathers, and then moved to the foreground for a dance routine arguably more impressive than her vocal performance.

SNL hadn’t seen so many pairs of genie pants since Hammer hosted back in ’91. No wonder Rihanna looked so preoccupied earlier this week.

Watch Rihanna Perform “Talk That Talk” on SNL

Watch Rihanna Perform “Where Have You Been” on SNL

See Rihanna in Our “Coachella 2012′s Sexiest Moments” Gallery%VIRTUAL-MultiGallery-153258|152014|151558|151454|150841|150569%

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