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The Color Purple and Shuffle Along are exuberant examples of Black excellence. Even more so, these shows are the gifts that just keep giving. Shuffle Along’s beloved Joshua Henry is not only preparing for his role as Aaron Burr in Hamilton Chicago, he’s also teaming up with The Color Purple’s Cynthia Erivo for a one-night only performance of The Last Five Years.

The September 12th benefit concert at Town Hall will send all proceeds to the Brady Center. The Brady Center is an organization committed to cutting gun-related homicide in half by 2025. This is a cause the show’s composer and director, Jason Robert Brown, is passionate about. Brown believes the upcoming performance is a product of serendipity. He released a statement saying, “From the moment I heard Cynthia sing ‘I Can Do Better Than That’ at the Royal Festival Hall in London last year, I have been determined to see her interpretation of Cathy, one of the most nuanced and difficult roles I’ve ever written.”

Neither Erivo or Henry are strangers to the composer’s work. This time last year, Erivo graced the stage of London’s St. James Theatre to perform Brown’s Songs of a New World. As if an act of grand foreshadowing, she later performed “I Can Do Better Than That” from The Last Five Years at Marie’s Crisis. On September 12th, Cynthia Erivo will bring new life to Cathy for all of Town Hall to praise.

Joshua Henry will play Jaimie, opposite Erivo. Henry has a rich history with Broadway, we’ve seen him originate rockstar roles in American Idiot and revive the soul of The Great White Way in Porgy & Bess. Joshua Henry consistently proves to be an ingenious performer, continuously raising the bar of performance. I’m not the only one that thinks so, Brown spoke of Henry saying, “…who could possibly be a better partner than Joshua, a singular extraordinary performer.” Brown’s relationship with Chicago’s next Aaron Burr goes back to a riveting performance of Parade at Geffen Hall, another stage where we saw Henry’s commitment and skill.

In his statement, Brown celebrated artists and spoke of improving his community the best way he knew how. Of the many passionate statements made, Brown beamed, “To have such amazing artists bring my work to life is thrilling enough, but to be using this performance to benefit the invaluable and desperately important work of the Brady Center is a particular honor.”

Tickets went on sale August 15th at 10AM and sold out within a few hours. To those blessed beings that got one, enjoy a beautiful night of performance and thank you for helping bring peace and change to a hurting world. We all can play a part in bringing peace to our communities. This concert is proof that personal determination can bring reality to your dreams and safety to your community. Click here, to learn more about the Brady Center and its determination to do better.

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