Events

Theatre News: Kimberly Akimbo, Hair, Lorraine Hansberry Initiative and A Strange Loop

Theatre News: Kimberly Akimbo, Hair, Lorraine Hansberry Initiative and A Strange Loop

The Off Broadway musical Kimberly Akimbo, which won the Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Musical, Best Director, Best Actress for Victoria Clark  and Best Book, will begin previews at Broadway’s Booth Theatre on October 12, with an official opening on November 10.

The production will feature the original Off Broadway cast: Victoria Clark in the title role, Justin Cooley, Steven Boyer, Alli Mauzey, Bonnie Milligan, Olivia Elease Hardy, Fernell Hogan, Michael Iskander and Nina White.

Kimberly Akimbo features a book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire, music by Jeanine Tesori, based on the play of the same name by David Lindsay-Abaire, with choreography by Danny Mefford. Jessica Stone directs.

The musical follows Kim, “a bright and funny New Jersey teen who happens to look like a 72-year-old lady. And yet her aging disease may be the least of her problems. Forced to maneuver family secrets, borderline personalities, and possible felony charges, Kim is determined to find happiness in a world where not even time is on her side.”

Creating In Color Music in partnership with the Black Theatre Coalition are proud to present a new concert series at the legendary Stonewall Inn. Following the sold-out presentation of Hello Dolly! In Concert, the series will continue with a concert production of the music of Hair! The evening will feature iconic numbers such as “Aquarius,” “Walking In Space,” “Let The Sunshine In,” “Good Morning Starshine,” and the title number, “Hair,” performed by an all-Black cast featuring brand new arrangements that take these familiar tunes to new and surprising places.

Hair In Concert will be presented on Monday, May 23rd at 7:00 PM upstairs at the Stonewall Inn (53 Christopher Street) with doors opening at 6:30. Tickets are $15 in advance and are available at https://hair.brownpapertickets.com. Seating will be strictly limited and any available tickets day-of will be $20 each. Two beverage minimum.

The cast of Hair in Concert includes Anna Anderson (Billie in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill & Armelia in Ain’t Misbehaving at the Depot Theatre), LaDonna Burns (Caroline in Caroline or Change at the Astoria Performing Arts Center, Miss Minnie U/S in Grace the Musical at Ford’s Theatre & the Season’s of Love Soloist in the National Tour of Rent), Taylor Fagins (Writer of LIVING: A Now Musical, Singer/Songwriter of “we need more,” & Contestant on American Idol 2022), Paula Galloway (Swing Off-Broadway’s Sistas: The Musical, Berthe in Pippin for Harlem Repertory Theatre & Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing for Hudson Shakespeare Company), Skylar Gamble (Dreamgirls at Mill Mountain Theatre, South Pacific at Arizona Broadway Theatre, & Hairspray at La Comedia Theatre), Hunter Hollingsworth-Harris (The Tinman in The Wizfor NY Black Arts Festival & Bill Muhammad in A Black Christmas Carol for Ujamaa Black American Theatre), Trisha Jeffrey (Broadway’s Little Shop of Horrors (OBC), All Shook Up (OBC), Motown & Rent), Taylor Pattie (Godspell with Backstage Theatre Company), Kwame Michael Remy(Lola in Kinky Boots for Diamond Head Theatre, Derrick in Members of the Choir Off-Broadway & Contestant on America’s Got Talent with JWIS), Jasmine Michelle Smith (National Tour of Dog Man: The Musical & Heather Duke in Heathers: the Musical at OSU Theatre), Jeffery C. White (Tom Collins in Rent and Judas in Godspell for BPAC and television’s Shades of Blue and Jessica Jones).

Hair in Concert will be directed  by Amy Marie Haven (former Associate Artistic Director of San Francisco’s African-American Shakespeare Company and current Producing Fellow at The Music Man on Broadway) and musically directed by John Bronston (former musical director of the North American tour of Hair and current Music Direction Fellow at Tina on Broadway). The Creating in Color Concert Series exists to produce concerts performed and helmed by Black artists using music from the American musical theatre canon regardless of whether it was written to be performed by Black artists. We hope to explore what the sound of Blackness can be on Broadway and beyond.

Black Theatre Coalition recently completed its inaugural Apprentice Program with the opening of the critically acclaimed Broadway revival, Company. BTC also has an ongoing Broadway Fellowship Program which has currently funded 20 fellows, 8 apprentices, and 6 regional Fellowships in cooperation with the John Gore Organization and Broadway Across America.

Other Industry Partners helping fund these fellowships include Madison Wells Media, Disney Theatrical Group, Jujamcyn Theatres, Bespoke Theatricals, Foresight Theatricals, 101 Productions, RCI Theatricals, Showtown Theatricals, Thompson Turner Productions, Sony Music Group, Adventureland, Mara Isaacs, Tom Kirdahy Productions, Hal Luftig Company, Doug Denoff, Hunter Arnold, Daryl Roth Productions, Stage Entertainment, Moulin Rouge, Come From Away, Hamilton, Tara Rubin Casting, Telsey + Co, Spotco, DKC/O&M, Broadway Women’s Alliance, Bond Theatrical, American Express and The Theatre Leadership Project (TTLP).

Applications for the 2022-2023 fellowship are now open. The deadline to apply for Fellowships is June 30th and placements will begin in late-August/early-September. Interviews will happen between now and then on a rolling basis. To apply, please visit btc.smapply.io.

The Lillys announced the launch of the Lorraine Hansberry Initiative, which aims to honor the great American playwright and civil rights leader’s legacy while investing in those following in her footsteps.

The Initiative includes a statue of Lorraine Hansberry that will tour the nation in 2022-2023 to raise public awareness of the full breadth of her work and teachings, which are of the utmost importance at this crucial time in history. The statue, created by the renowned sculptor Alison Saar, is entitled To Sit Awhile, and features the figure of Hansberry surrounded by five bronze chairs, each representing a different aspect of her life and work. The life-size chairs are an invitation to the public to do just that: sit with her and think.

In addition, the Lorraine Hansberry Initiative has created a unique scholarship to make sure that the next generation is able to follow in Hansberry’s footsteps, regardless of race, gender, or economic situation. Unlike existing university scholarships, this singular grant will be primarily intended to cover the living expenses of three female and/or non-binary dramatic writers of color entering graduate school, with two additional recipients added each year. Each recipient will receive $25,000 for each year of their education, ensuring that they have protected time to write, work with collaborators, and benefit from the guidance of professional mentors in their respective fields. They will go on to create for the stage, television, and film, and their work will reach millions.

“One can draw a straight line from the issue of real estate and racial discrimination that Hansberry pointed to so clearly in A Raisin in the Sun, to the generational wealth gap that is preventing women of color, specifically Black women, from following in her footsteps today,” said The Lillys Executive Director Julia Jordan.

“We know that graduate school is the primary gateway to a career as a dramatic writer,” said Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage. “In my twenty years of teaching at the graduate level, I have had only four Black female students.  If we want theater to tell the full story of humanity, we need to nurture the full breadth of talent.”

The statue’s tour will include three installations in New York City, followed by a national tour of major cities and Historically Black Colleges and Universities. In each city, the Initiative will work with local theaters and social justice organizations to showcase the work of contemporary writers of color concurrent with the sculpture’s placement.

The full NYC tour stops are as follows:

  • Times Square: June 9th – 12th
  • The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture: June 13th – 18th
  • Brooklyn Bridge Park: June 23rd – 29th

Additional supporting NYC events include:

  • The Museum of the City of New York will present a panel, titled The Playwright as Activist, on June 13th as part of their Freedom Week programming, which will feature a conversation between playwrights Lynn Nottage, Lisa Kron, and Erika Dickerson-Despenza.
  • The Drama Book Shop will be dedicating their display space for the month of June to works by and about Hansberry and contemporary writers of color.
  • The New Victory Theater will host Speak Up, Act Out: Celebrating Student Voices (Inspired by The Lorraine Hansberry Initiative Dramatic Writing Showcase) on June 9th.

Following the NYC installations, the tour will have stops in major cities across the country, including Philadelphia, Detroit, Minneapolis, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago. As the birthplace of Hansberry and the setting of A Raisin in the Sun, Chicago will enjoy an enhanced and permanent installation in 2023.

The statue will be unveiled in a ceremony in Times Square on June 9th, which will feature performances as well as remarks from playwright Lynn Nottage and Lorraine’s older sister, Mamie Hansberry.  The women and writers of color who have had their work grace Broadway this historic season will be invited to join Mamie Hansberry on stage. This will be followed by a showcase of student works from Speak Up, Act Out: Celebrating Student Voices at the New Victory Theater. The project, a collaboration between New Victory Theater, the Lillys, and 24 Hour Plays, will showcase monologues and short works inspired by Hansberry from NYC middle school students and performed and directed by professional artists, including Quincy Tyler Bernstein, Kate Whoriskey, Russell Jones, Jessica Hecht, April Mathis, Shariffa Ali and Seret Scott.

Ghostlight Records and Yellow Sound Label have announced the release of the new single and music video. The album, which will be released in digital and streaming formats on Friday, June 10, is currently available for pre-order with six tracks (“A Strange Loop,” “Periodically,” “Intermission Song,” “We Wanna Know,” “Inner White Girl,” and “Today”) available to stream or download. The Broadway premiere of the show – directed by Tony Award nominee Stephen Brackett, choreographed by Raja Feather Kelly, and produced by Barbara Whitman along with Page 73 Productions, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and Playwrights Horizons – is currently running at the Lyceum Theatre (149 West 45th Street). A Strange Loop is currently nominated for 11 Tony Awards®, including “Best Musical,” making it the most-nominated show of the Broadway season. The cast album is available to pre-save now at ghostlightrecords.lnk.to/AStrangeLoopPR

The album was produced by Michael Croiter and Michael R. Jackson, with Kurt Deutsch and Barbara Whitman as executive producers. It was co-produced by Charlie Rosen, who provides orchestrations; and Rona Siddiqui, who serves as music director and music supervisor.

The Broadway cast of A Strange Loop features Tony Award nominee Jaquel Spivey (Usher), Antwayn Hopper (Thought 6), Tony Award nominee L Morgan Lee (Thought 1), John-Michael Lyles (Thought 3), James Jackson, Jr. (Thought 2), Tony Award nominee John-Andrew Morrison (Thought 4), and Jason Veasey (Thought 5).

Events

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

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