Category Archives: Broadway

Sheryl Lee Ralph Presents Divas Simply Singing! Philadelphia On August 20, 2016

SherylLeeRalphSheryl Lee Ralph and The Divinely Inspired Victoriously Aware, D.I.V.A Foundation will celebrate its 2nd annual staging of DIVAS Simply Singing! in Philadelphia after 26 consecutive years in Los Angeles. This highly anticipated and much respected community health service charity concert began in the fight against HIV/AIDS. It now adds mental wellness, heart disease, diabetes and HepC and other life threatening diseases. The Foundation with the support of  Commissioner Sue Slawson and The Dell Theatre, will bring together some of the industry’s most talented artists and Divas to address the need for Health and Wellness awareness. A strong community is a healthy community.

The details are as follows:  DIVAS SIMPLY SINGING! Philadelphia, Saturday, August 20, 2016.
Dell Music Center, 2400 Strawberry Mansion Drive,  Philadelphia,  PA  19132  Doors open at 6pm; show to  7pm. Here is a sample video of the performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VwSSb_wTF4&feature=youtu.be  http://www.ticketmaster.com/Divas-Simply-Singing-tickets/artist/839859.  The MUSIC DIRECTOR: Henri Mc Millian Jr. and the MUSIC By: The Urban Guerilla Orchestra.

About The D.I.V.A. Foundation

The D.I.V.A. Foundation is a national not-for-profit 501 (c)(3) charitable organization founded in 1990 by honored AIDS activist and award winning actress, Sheryl Lee Ralph because of her deep concern for the lack of attention given to HIV/AIDS and it potential to become a health risk not only for men but women and children. DIVAS Simply Singing! was created as a loving memorial to the many friends she lost to AIDS as an original company member of DreamGirls on Broadway. The event utilizes the arts as a vehicle to raise awareness, funds  and erase stigma. After 25 years, DIVAS Simply Singing! continues to be the longest consecutive running musical AIDS benefit in the country and “One of the most highly anticipated HIV/AIDS benefits in Los Angeles.” DIVAS Simply Singing! serves as a loving beacon of hope, a constant voice in the dark for those infected and affected by HIV/ AIDS. Sheryl Lee Ralph has simply dared to care when others remained silent.

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Chester Gregory Plays Berry Gordy in Motown Musical

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The Legendary Berry Gordy and Broadway Actor Chester Gregory

Actor Chester Gregory has done some amazing roles in his life while working on Broadway stepping into the role of the legendary Berry Gordy for the Motown Musical.  After being in Los Angeles for the past few years, he is back in the Big Apple for the revival of the Motown musical on Broadway.  The show is scheduled to start on July 12, 2016 and run for only 18 weeks.

Gregory was born in Gary, Indiana to a steel mill worker and a school teacher, Chester “CHΞSS” Gregory drew inspiration from hometown hero Michael Jackson to pursue his dream of becoming an artist. He began his journey performing in local talent shows and participating in workshops for young performers.

Writer, Judith Davis and Broadway Actor Chester Gregory

Writer, Judith Davis and Broadway Actor Chester Gregory

After a few years, Gregory was ready to take the next step and auditioned for the Emerson School for Visual and Performing Arts. Although his first two attempts were unsuccessful, Gregory didn’t give up, and his third try provided him the opportunity to attend by the time he reached high school. A testament to his gift, he was voted ‘Most Talented’ his senior year of high school.

In January 2016, Gregory joined the touring cast of the Broadway production Motown: The Musical. In the show, Gregory plays the lead character, Motown founder Berry Gordy. He’s expected to remain in the show through its return to Broadway in the summer of 2016.

To date, Gregory continues to perform his one man show The Eve of Jackie to sold out audiences across the country. His successful Broadway career has allowed Gregory to transition to TV and film work. Chester is excited to get started in this amazing role as Berry Gordy and so is the audience.

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Sushi Seki serving great dishes for New York City

Chef SekiOn June 30, 2016, there was a unique opportunity to sample some amazing dishes from Sushi Seki on 46th Street.  The talented Chef Seki provided a taste of some of his best seafood creations.  Founded in 2002, our Upper East location has been notoriously known as a late night den for New York’s elite, top chefs, and a sushi haven for those that call the Upper East home.

Sushi Seki is the creation of Chef Seki Shi. Chef Seki began his culinary journey at a young age, working with his Mom to perfect the art of crispy rice. After graduating from high school, Chef Seki continued his study in Tokyo, where he discovered his true passion for cooking.  Authentic Japanese cuisine intrigued him and drew him to the culinary details and fundamental techniques that are the foundation of his innovative cuisine today.

“Never stop learning” is the philosophy of Chef Seki. Chef Seki developed his knowledge of fish at the famed Tsukiji Market; one of the largest fish markets in the world. Chef Seki began working as a dishwasher and eventually advanced to become head kitchen chef and within a few years, a sushi chef.

IMG_1832In 1991, Chef Seki moved to New York City. Chef Seki explored his talent by working at various restaurants to enhance his experience including Sushi of Gari. Chef Seki has since become one of the masters in the art of fine sushi.

In 2002, Chef Seki opened Sushi Seki on the Upper East Side. His commitment to selecting only the best fish in the most trusted Japanese markets, has allowed Chef Seki to build his reputation.

In 2014, Chef Seki opened his second location in Chelsea. Chef Seki along with his family of NYC’s finest sommeliers and sushi chefs are committed to the “never stop learning” attitude by creating and balancing the flavor of the fish with simple ingredients, a classic style and expansive sake and wines, paired perfectly to each meal.

Chef Seki is known for his signature sushi classics using the finest seafood available in the world, and taking his lucky clients on a culinary journey.  His classic style shines through as he caters to guests’ individual tastes.  At Sushi Seki: Bar & Oysters his newest outpost in Hell’s Kitchen, Chef Seki continues to surprise his guests with a Chef’s tasting menu at the exclusive 6-seat Kappo counter.  Here, he continues to treat his discerning clientele to the finest dishes prepared according to the season and the guest’s taste.

Sushi SekiThe newest Sushi Seki Bar & Oysters , which is considered the flagship location located in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen on historic Restaurant Row. Our latest endeavor features two distinct ambiances within the stunning, bi-level space.

The main floor, with large bar, perfect for pre and post theater dining, provides a casual and contemporary experience, featuring an open kitchen, a communal table, a 76-seat dining room, and a special $100 Kappo tasting menu.  Japanese artisanal cocktails, as well as a full selection of premium wines, sakes and beverages complete the experience.

Opened in 2014, our Chelsea location features two semi-private tatami rooms, a 16 seat sushi bar, a six seat bar, and a 48 seat dining room.

IMG_1842Upstairs features an artisanal whisky and sake bar followed by three Tatami rooms for private dining, while an exclusive 13-seat sushi bar offers lively, theatrical entertainment for the entire 72-seat dining room. We recommend the “Omakase” tasting, a daily selection of fish prepared “from the heart”, available on request.

 

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Amateur Night at Apollo: Nothin’ But Soul with special guest star Deborah Cox

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Singer Deborah Cox sings during Amateur Night at the Apollo.

On Wednesday, June 15th, in celebration of Black Music Month, the world famous Apollo Theater presented an especially “soulful” edition of its signature show with Amateur Night: Nothin’ But Soul. During this themed Amateur Night contestants payed homage to Soul and R&B legends who have graced the Apollo stage by giving performances that are based on the root of soul music. As a treat, GRAMMY-nominated R&B singer/songwriter Deborah Cox performed during this soulful night for the fans.

Deborah Cox is an award-winning singer/songwriter, Broadway star and philanthropist best known for her 1998 breakout smash hit “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here,” which set a record as the longest-running No. 1 R&B single in the United States, reigning the charts for 14 consecutive weeks. Deborah continued as a fixture on the top of the charts, with six Billboard Top 20 R&B singles in addition to an impressive 12 Billboard #1 U.S. Dance hits. Since then, the Grammy-nominated Canadian superstar has been pushing past boundaries, from her versatility as a vocalist to her activism work supporting charities for women in need and LGBTQ rights to starring in Broadway musicals Aida and Jekyll & Hyde. Her repertoire expands with her latest roles as two of her childhood heroes: the legendary Josephine Baker in the riveting Broadway-bound production Josephine and the Rachel Marron role in the upcoming live theatrical adaptation of The Bodyguard.

“Every year, during Black Music Month, we celebrate Amateur Night’s musical roots with our contestants all performing classic soul and R&B songs as a way of rekindling and preserving the rich musical history of soul music and its pioneers. We’re talking classics like James Brown, Chaka Khan, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding and more,” said Amateur Night producer Marion J. Caffey. “And we are excited to welcome our special guest artist, Deborah Cox back to the Apollo stage. She’s a multi-talented artist and an incredible performer. It’s sure to be a soulful night!”
Comedian Capone hosts Amateur Night at the Apollo.

Comedian Capone hosts Amateur Night at the Apollo.

Since its inception in 1934, Amateur Night has been one of New York City’s most popular live entertainment experiences, launching the careers of thousands of performers and attracting audiences from all over the world. The Apollo Theater’s Amateur Night has long been revered by artists as a transformative experience where up-and-coming talent feels the power of the legendary performers who have come before them, and where audience response can help make or break a career.

The show was hosted by comedian Capone. In addition, Amateur Night also featured staples like CP Lacey in the role of the “Executioner” (the character who sweeps “booed” contestants off the stage), Joe Gray the “Set It Off Man,” and the Apollo’s Amateur Night house band led by music director, Michael Mitchell.

While Amateur Night draws a large crowd each week, there are some night the Apollo grants guests an extra special night which is really mostly what the world famous Apollo Theater has always been know to do.

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Hi-Arts & National Black Theatre announce the production of ‘Blood at the Root’

4a45bac342f139f3ea87e3969892b99bGood theater in New York is something many people expect, but theater in Harlem goes as deep as the roots from when Harlem became such an influential neighborhood in New York City. On Tuesday, April 5, 2016, The National Black Theatre presented the cast of a much talked about upcoming show entitled “Blood at the Root.” The evening moderator for the event was Keith Josef Adkins, the artistic director of The New Black Fest and he discussed the play with the actors.

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Tony and Grammy Award winner Heather Headley joins the cast of The Color Purple

4e586697289503979d49eb67cdb8c1c9There is a good news, but also a little bit of sad news so perhaps it is bittersweet news for theater goers. Beginning on Tuesday, May 10, 2016, Tony and Grammy Award winner Heather Headley will assume the role of Shug Avery in John Doyle’s critically acclaimed production of the Broadway musical, The Color Purple.

This is Ms. Headley’s first appearance on Broadway since winning the 2000 Tony Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical for her performance in Aida. Grammy and Academy Award winnerJennifer Hudson, who made her critically-acclaimed Broadway debut in the role of Shug Avery, will complete her six month run on Sunday, May 8 and will give her final performance that afternoon.

“These last six months have been nothing short of a dream come true. I have found an extended family in the cast of The Color Purple that will go far beyond my commitment on-stage,” said Jennifer Hudson. “I owe so much to the Broadway community and our audiences. My heart is full as I say to Broadway,‘until we meet again.”

“I was privileged to see John Doyle’s production of The Color Purple and was completely moved and bowled over by his beautiful work and this brilliant company,” said Ms. Headley. “I am humbled to be joining this immensely talented group of actors. I can’t think of a better way to return to the Broadway stage than in this extraordinary show, helping to tell Alice Walker’s story.”

Heather Headley made her Broadway debut in the role of Nala in the original Broadway cast of Elton John and Tim Rice’s Tony-winning musical, The Lion King. While still in The Lion King, Heather was asked to audition for the title role in the writing duo’s next Broadway venture together, Aida. Her portrayal of the Nubian princess Aida won her the 2000 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical as well as the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical. Heather continued her musical success on the pop charts with her 2002 debut album. The opening title single became Heather’s first #1 hit, topping the dance and R&B charts and earning her a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. In addition to her independent release of Only One In The World, in 2009 Heather released Audience of One, for which she won a Grammy Award for the Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album. In 2012, she made her London stage debut in the West End production of The Bodyguard, for which she was nominated for an Olivier Award.

The show has received rave reviews with Hudson in the role and Shug Avery and will continue as Headley assumes the role in May 2016. For more information, photos, and videos of the production please visit the Color Purple website.

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S.W.A.N. Day Screening and Reception on March 26, 2016 at SVA Theater

3140aacb7147a2c932e0297eb2de1324On Saturday, March 26, 2016, NYWIFT, SAG-AFTRA, School of Visual Arts Film department, African-American Women in Cinema, Women in the Arts & Media Coalition, Women Make Movies, andHerFlix sponsored a screening at the SVA Theatre of the documentary BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez in recognition of S.W.A.N. SWAN stands for Support Women Artists Now and is an annual event on the last Saturday of March that celebrates women artists. This screening was held as the closing event of the 18th African-American Women in Cinema (AAWIC) Festival.

The BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez documentary is produced and Directed by Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater and Sabrina Schmidt Gordon. Sabrina Schmidt Gordon was on hand after the screening to discuss the film and answer any questions from the audience.

BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez offers unprecedented access to the life, work and mesmerizing performances of renowned poet and activist Sonia Sanchez who describes herself as “a woman with razor blades between my teeth.” A leading figure in the Black Arts Movement and inspiration to today’s hip hop spoken word artists, Sanchez for over 60 years has helped to redefine American culture and politics as an activist in the Black, women’s and peace movements.

The late great Maya Angelou called Sanchez “a lion in literature’s forest” while spoken word artist Bryonn Bain credits her with paving the way for his generation, “She not only opened the door, she blew off the roof.” Sanchez revolutionized poetry by incorporating street language, a unique performance style and collaborations with jazz musicians. Sanchez’s contemporaries Ruby Dee, Amiri Baraka, John Bracey, Jr., Haki Madhubuti and Nikki Giovanni joined by such newer voices as Talib Kweli, Ayana Mathis, Jessica Care Moore, Bryonn Bain and Questlove present impassioned readings of and insightful commentary on her fearless verse, including her raw love poems.

BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez is the second documentary produced by Attie, Goldwater and Gordon. Their previous collaboration, Mrs. Goundo’s Daughter (2009), recounts a Malian mother’s fight for asylum in the U.S. to protect her two-year old daughter from female genital cutting/mutilation. Supported by ITVS and the Sundance Documentary Fund, Mrs. Goundo’s Daughter was broadcastnationally on public television’s Afropop: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange series in 2011. It has been shown at film festivals throughout the world, including the Human Rights Watch Festival and Silverdocs, and was named Best Social Documentary at the Addis International Film Festival in Ethiopia.

The BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez documentary aired on PBS on March 8, 2016. For more information visit: Attie & Goldwater Productions.

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The Metropolitan Playhouse presents “Walk Hard” by playright Abram Hill

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Photo used with permission from The Metropolitan Playhouse

Great theater can always be found on and off Broadway in New York City. Another great play currently on stage is Walk Hard. WALK HARD is an adaptation of Len Zinberg’s novel “Walk Hard-Talk Loud,” and premiered in 1944 at the American Negro Theater. After its successful run, the play was produced by Gustav Blum at the Chanin Auditorium on 42nd Street in 1946.

The work follows the story of a young man working as a shoeshine boy in 1939, The young man is nineteen-year-old Andy Whitman whose ambition is limited only by the color of his skin. He is bright, industrious, but black, and his daily struggle makes make him quick with his temper and his fists. When he catches the eye of a boxing manager in a street fight, Andy is soon a rising star in a fast-paced game. But it is a game of devil’s bargains, played with dubious partners, and some rules never change when a black man looks for respect in a white world.

 Born in Atlanta in 1910, ABRAM HILL moved to New York as a teenager and studied at City College, earned his BA at Lincoln University, and did graduate work at Columbia. He began his career as an assistant in Lincoln’s drama department in 1938, and in that same year became a consultant to the Federal Theater Project. He continued working in theater until his death in1986.

The production is directed by IMANI, Artistic Director of RACCA (Richard Allen Center for Culture and Art), recipient of an AUDELCO Award in 2010 for direction and a Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation George C. Wolfe Fellow in 2014-14. Recent work includes “Mirrors/Mississippi Goddamn,” “Snow,” and “Eartha and Me.” She is also an instructor in Black American Drama and Documentary Theater at SUNY Purchase.

The production introduces New York actor JOSHUA DAVID SCARLETT as Andy, and stars GABRIELLE ARCHER, BEETHOVAN ODEN, CRAIG ANTHONY BANNISTER, MICHAEL BASILE, CHRIS KRAUSE, KIM YANCEY MOORE (“A Raisin in the Sun,” with Danny Glover at Roundabout), JOY SUDDUTH, VANESSA SHAW (“Eartha and Me,” “Welcome Home, Marian Anderson”). SEAN MICHAEL BUCKLEY, FRANK ANDERSON (NYIT Award winner for “The Return of Peter Grimm”), PETER TEDESCHI (“Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” “The House of Mirth”). Set design is by ALEX ROE. Lighting by MELODY BEAL.

Costumes by NYIT Award winner SIDNEY FORTNER. Sound by BILL TOLES. Stage Manager is WILLIAM VANN CARLTON. Assistant Director is LAVONDA ELAM.

METROPOLITAN PLAYHOUSE, now its 24th season, devoted to Hope, explores America’s theatrical heritage through forgotten plays of the past and new plays of American historical and cultural moment. The show runs from February 19 – March 20. General admission tickets are for $25. For more information, visit the Metropolitan Playhouse website or call: 1-800-838-3006.

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Actor Forest Whitaker shines on Broadway in Hughie

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Photo used with permission from Hughie on Broadway

With this being Whitaker’s first Broadway run, audiences were especially interested in seeing how well he would translate from film to the stage. The New York Times calls Forest Whitaker, “one of the pre-eminent actors of his generation. Whitaker is a magnetic actor” and the Chicago Tribune says “Forest Whitaker is one of the best actors of our generation.” CBS says “Whitaker doesn’t so much play roles as inhabit them” and Variety calls Whitaker “an acting force.” This is very apparent in his portrayal of this down and out gambler.

As theater buffs may know, the play is set in the summer 1928 in New York City. Beyond the bright lights of the Great White Way, a small-time gambler and big-time drinker returns to the faded hotel he has made his home. He encounters a new night clerk at the front desk and as the early hours of the morning give way to another dawn, he continues to chase the American Dream in order to survive. HUGHIE is a rarely seen theatrical masterpiece that beautifully explores redemption and offers a unique insight into the human condition.

Hughie first premiered on Broadway in 1964 with Jason Robards in the role of “Erie” Smith. The role of “Erie” has been played by illustrious actors such as Burgess Meredith, Ben Gazzara and Al Pacino. Now Forest Whitaker can be added to the list of those playing this interesting an complex role. Forest Whitaker quickly makes the role his own and keeps the audience’s attention as he unveils his character.

Tickets for Hughie range from $25 – $149, and are available at: HughieBroadway, Telecharge (212.239.6200), or directly at the Booth Theatre box office. Please note, the show only has a strictly limited engagement so if one waits to long, they may miss the show.

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“Smart People” on Broadway at The 2econd Stage Theater in NYC

9b89c18c832d77c5b1dfaa0172622516Thought provoking plays on Broadway are always a treasure. The stories often leave the audience with so much to think and talk about even if the subject is one that is quite uncomfortable. This seems to be the case for “Smart People”, new play by Lydia R. Diamond (Stick Fly), helmed by Kenny Leon (The Wiz), the Tony Award®-winning director of the 2014 revival of A Raisin in the Sun.

Within the context of the story, there is the quest for love, achievement and identity. This is universal subject, but the underlying question is what role does race play in the story of our lives?

 The journey is set on the eve of Obama’s first election, and deals with four Harvard intellectuals that find themselves entangled in a complex web of social and sexual politics. The interactions are provocative and funny but will leave many to question if things have gotten for the better to worse in America. The cast includes:

Mahershala Ali who is best known for his role on the award-winning Netflix series “House of Cards,” as lobbyist and press secretary Remy Danton. On stage, he plays Jackson, a smart and charismatic doctor working hard to help others, set goals and prove his place in this competitive medical world. He is sometimes frustrated by his superiors.

Joshua Jackson who is well-known for many movie and television roles, but probably most notably for when he came on the scene in the hit TV show “Dawson’s Creek.” He takes on the character of Brian. As a part of his research study, he takes on the stereotypes of race in society. During his research, he soon discovers that many of his findings are some of the things he actually feels himself.

Anne Son has acted and can be seen on various television shows such as “My Generation and “Fargo”, She plays the role of Ginny. She is the very intelligent. sexy, shopaholic doctor who wants to help others and also fight the stereotypes she sees that are imposed on her by others. She is a bit abrasive, but her heart is in the right place.

Tessa Thompson plays Valerie and is best known for her lead role as Dear White People” and “Creed.” She is a beautiful and artsy grad student/actress who is still figuring her way out. Her parents want her to strive for more, but acting is her passion. She has to deal with her studies, her parents and finding herself in the world.

They are lead separate lives for a while, then circumstance happen and they come together as two, then finally as four at a dinner setting. This meeting of the four causes secret thoughts and prejudices to erupt. The play is perfect for this particular time and racism seems to be out front and center even in this Presidential Race. Audiences will leave with many thoughts and may even have to look within themselves to see what they indeed feel about others.

For more information on the play, visit the 2econdStageTheater website.

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