Tag Archives: theater

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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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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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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The “Color Purple” returns to Broadway with an awesome cast

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Photo used with permission from The Color Purple on Broadway

If you are looking for a roaring good time, look no further than Broadway this season. There are always exciting musicals to choose from, but one of the best shows on Broadway currently is the revival of the smash hit “The Color Purple.”

The Color Purple began preview performances on Tuesday, November 10 and will officially open on Thursday, December 10, 2015. This installment of the Color Purple features Grammy, Academy Award, and Golden Globe award winner Jennifer Husdon who has been cast in the sultry role as Shug Avery. Playing opposite of Jennifer, is British actress Cynthia Erivo. Cynthia is the breakout star of John Doyle’s acclaimed Menier Chocolate Factory production. Rounding out the female cast is Danielle Brooks. Brooks might be mostly known for her role as “Taystee” in the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black”, and she will be playing the role that Oprah Winfrey made famous, Sophia.

This is a historic and major moment for the show since all three outstanding actresses will be making their Broadway debuts. Newcomer Joaquina Kalukango will appear on the play as Nettie. Kalukango credits include: Encores! Wild Party and Holler If Ya Hear Me. Singer/Actress Jennifer Hudson, who plays Shug Avery stated “I want the audience to be inspired and come away learning something good from the role.” Actress Cynthia Erivo who plays the main role Celie explained that she hopes the viewers can take a journey that can change their life.” Actress Danielle Brooks who was cast as Sophia, expressed as she gushed with excitement, “I am elated to play such an iconic role.” With comments such as these, this musical/play is definitely set to leave fans transformed and leaving the theater

Even the male cast members spoke about their excitement to be a part of such a great play. The male cast includes. actor Isaiah Johnson and Kyle Scaliffe. Johnson will play the role of Mister and some of his credits include: The Merchant of Venice and Peter and the Starcatcher, while Scatliffe was cast as Harpo, and has past roles in Les Misérables.

As fans and audience members know, The Color Purple is an unforgettable story of enduring sisterly love and triumph over adversity. This play presents its music with a fresh, joyous score of jazz, ragtime, gospel and blues, as we the inspirational and heartbreaking journey of Celie, as she develops from childhood through joy and despair, anguish and hope to discover the power of love and life.

Interested in checking out the show? Tickets are currently available for purchase at colorpurple.com and Telecharge.com. In addition, the box office is located at (242 West 45th street) will be open Tuesday-Saturday 10am-8pm, and on Sundays from 12pm-6pm.

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Celebrate “Holidays at the Apollo”With Programs for Audiences of All Ages

Holiday Highlights

Coca-Cola Winter WonderlandApollo2011– Free Event
Saturday, December 15th – 2pm -6pm

Apollo Amateur Night Holiday Special featuring Apollo Stars of Tomorrow with Guest Artist The OMG Girlz
Saturday, December 15th -7:30pm

Sweet Honey In The Rock: Celebrating The Holydays
Thursday, December 20th – 8pm

Kwanzaa Celebration: Regeneration Night
Friday, December 28th at 7:30pm

(Harlem, NY)— This December, the Apollo Theater will present a series of holiday programs designed to celebrate family, culture, music, comedy and community. Throughout its legendary history, the Apollo has consistently been a model of innovation and excellence, and a creative catalyst for Harlem, the city of New York, and the nation. This year’s holiday programming represents the range and vibrancy of the Theater’s artistic offerings.

Saturday, December 15th – 2pm -6pm
Coca-Cola Winter Wonderland
Before the show, the Apollo and Coca-Cola are partnering to bring the magic of the Holiday season to Harlem. Under the Apollo’s iconic marquee, Coca-Cola will offer a variety of holiday-themed activities and performances free and open to the public. The festivities include picture taking with Santa Claus, giveaways and performances by two of New York City’s best choirs, ARC Gospel Choir and Refining Faith. Additionally, in the spirit of giving, the Apollo will be a designated location for a toy drive benefiting HELPUSA, a non-profit dedicated to providing housing and the supportive services necessary for the homeless. Hosted by Billy Mitchell, Apollo Theater historian and tour director. This event is free and open to the public

Saturday, December 15th -7:30pm
Apollo Amateur Night Holiday Special featuring Apollo Stars of Tomorrow With Guest Artists the OMG Girlz
The legendary Apollo Theater lights up this holiday season with the Apollo Amateur Night Holiday Special, the 3rd Annual event under its signature program Amateur Night, showcasing recent winners of the show’s “Apollo Stars of Tomorrow” category. Featuring an incredibly talented array of instrumentalists, singers and dancers from ages 8-18, this program captures the spirit of young performers all hoping to follow in the footsteps of Apollo Legends like Michael Jackson and Ella Fitzgerald, whose careers were launched on the stage of the Apollo. Sponsored by Coca-Cola Apollo Amateur Night Holiday Special will be hosted by Capone.

Stars of Tomorrow Performers include: Solomon Hicks, Arianna Dempsey, Tiffany Obi, Austin Paul, Jr., Lianah St. Ana, Andrew Malabunga, Matthew Whitaker, Hannah Richardson, The Midas Touch, Mirei Tohyama and Michael Woodard.

Special Guest Artist: The OMG Girlz is a teenage girl singing group whose current members include Bahja “Beauty” Rodriguez, Breaunna “Baby Doll” W. and Zonnique “Star” Pullins. The group was formed by Grammy Award winning Singer/Songwriter, Tameka “Tiny” Harris, formerly of the multi-platinum girl group, Xscape. The OMG Girlz have quickly risen in popularity with their hit “Gucci This (Gucci That)” and have been featured on BET’s 106 & Park and as part of the Scream Tour with Diggy Simmons in 2011.

Tickets are $19, $25 and $29. Groups & families (4 or more): $9.50, $12.50, and $14.50. Tickets are available at The Apollo Theater Box Office: (212) 531-5305, 253
West 125th Street and Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000, http://www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets on Sale Now!

Thursday, December 20th – 8pm
Sweet Honey In The Rock: Celebrating The Holydays
This internationally renowned all-female a capella ensemble, will star in a one-of-a-kind holiday season concert on the legendary Apollo stage! Sweet Honey In The Rock will celebrate music from many faiths and religions around the globe through stunning vocals rooted in the rich textures of African-American legacy and traditions. With American spirituals, Latin, Chinese, African and Hebrew influences, this program honors the holiday spirit from Christmas to Kwanzaa. This concert marks the first time this Grammy Award winning troupe, will headline at the Apollo. In 2009, Sweet Honey In The Rock performed as part of an African American cultural legacy festival.

Ysaye Maria Barnwell, Nitanju Bolade Casel, Aisha Kahlil, Carol Maillard, Louise Robinson, and Shirley Childress Saxton (American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter ) comprise the current ensemble. The group has incorporated ASL into their live performances since the early ’80s.

Tickets are $25, $45, $65 and $75 Tickets are available at The Apollo Theater Box Office: (212) 531-5305, 253 West 125th Street and Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000,
http://www.ticketmaster.com.

Friday, December 28th at 7:30pm
Kwanzaa Celebration: Regeneration Night
The Apollo Theater celebrates Kwanzaa with its popular annual show, featuring the
renowned New York-based dance company Abdel Salaam’s Forces of Nature Dance
Theatre, guest performances by the Songhai Djeli and Flute Visions and Queen
GodIs and members of the Harlem Children’s Zone/Forces of Nature’s Youth Academy. Since 2006, the Apollo has established an annual show to celebrate this holiday tradition on one day of the Kwanzaa holiday. The Apollo’s celebration is a joyful evening of dance and music honoring the principles of Kwanzaa—family, community, and culture. Sponsored by the Coca-Cola Company, Regeneration Night Kwanzaa Celebration has become a fun and affordable Apollo tradition for the entire family. Hosted by radio personality Imhotep Gary Byrd.

Tickets are $16; Groups (5 or more): $13. Tickets are available at The Apollo Theater Box Office: (212) 531-5305, 253 West 125th Street and Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000,
http://www.ticketmaster.com.

Apollo Theater Information
Box Office Hours:
Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri – 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Wednesday – 10:00 am – 8:30 pm
Saturday – 12:00 pm – 6:00pm

About the Apollo Theater

The Apollo is a national treasure that has had significant impact on the development of American culture and its popularity around the world.  Since introducing the first Amateur Night contests in 1934, the Apollo Theater has played a major role in cultivating artists and in the emergence of innovative musical genres including jazz, swing, bebop, R&B, gospel, blues, soul, and hip-hop.  Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis, Jr., James Brown, Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby, Gladys Knight, Luther Vandross, D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill, and countless others began their road to stardom on the Apollo’s stage. The Apollo Theater’s new artistic vision builds on its legacy.  New Apollo programming has music as its core, driving large scale and more intimate music, dance and theater presentations.  The Apollo will continue to present historically relevant presentations, as well as more forward-looking, contemporary work. Based on its cultural significance and architecture, the Apollo Theater received state and city landmark designation in 1983 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For more information, visit www.apollotheater.org.

Holidays at the Apollo is sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company.  Additional support for the Kwanzaa Celebration: Regeneration Night provided by Macys.

 

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