I just knew when I saw the tweet. Jimmy Fallon couldn’t have the remarkable Audra McDonald as a guest and not do a Yahoo! Answers. As usual, I was right. On Monday night’s “Tonight Show,” Jimmy had the six-time Tony Award-winner sing replies to real Yahoo! Answers to questions like, “Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?” and “Whatever happened to Ja Rule?” Quite honestly, it’s one of the most brilliant things the show has given us, as searching through Yahoo! Answers is one of my favorite pastimes, having Audra and Jimmy make a cabaret act out of them is even better.
Later, McDonald sat down to talk about the highly-anticipated new musical Shuffle Along, and explained the historical significance of the show (it broke many barriers including being first to feature jazz in musicals, feature black actors, and even have black audience members in the orchestra seats). She also talked about what it’s like learning choreography from tap phenomenon Savion Glover (she swears she’ll have it together by the first preview).
As a bonus, The Tonight Show blessed us with another clip where McDonald recalls some of her tales from backstage while doing Porgy and Bess and 110 In The Shade, which includes dog poop and ladybug tattoos.
Check out the videos below and if you haven’t already, get your Shuffle Along tickets here. Previews start at The Music Box on March 15th, and officially opens April 28th. Trust us, it’s a show you definitely don’t want to miss.
Renee Elise Goldsberry Cast In HBOs “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”
Tony Award winner Renee Elise Goldsberry, who recently announced her departure from Hamilton this fall to film and star in new Netflix series Altered Carbon, is staying #booked. The actress was just cast in the title role to star opposite Oprah Winfrey in HBO Films The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
Goldsberry will play Henrietta Lacks, an African-American woman whose cells were used to create the first immortal human cell line. Told through the eyes of her daughter, Deborah Lacks (played by Winfrey), the film chronicles her search to learn about the mother she never knew and to understand how the unauthorized harvesting of Lacks’ cancerous cells in 1951 led to unprecedented medical breakthroughs, changing countless lives and the face of medicine forever.
Based on Rebecca Skloot’s 2011 best-seller, veteran and favorite Broadway Black director-producer George C. Wolfe (Shuffle Along, Angels In America) wrote the adaptation and will direct.
Oprah Winfrey and Carla Gardini executive produce through Harpo Films and Skloot is co-executive producer.
Henrietta Lacks’ sons David Lacks, Jr. and Zakariyya Rahman; her granddaughter Jeri Lacks; and her grandchildren Alfred Carter Jr. and LaTonya Carter are consultants on the project as well.
I remember reading this book the summer between my freshman and sophomore year and being brought to tears because this woman’s life changed medicine forever and at the same time her family was struggling to afford health insurance. Grappling with the idea of what happens to your body, what people can do when you die was haunting me for years. It’s about time this story gets the screen adaption it deserves and we couldn’t be happier that Renee, Oprah, and George get to tell the story.
No premiere date has been announced yet, but keep following Broadway Black for the latest updates.
Savion Glover & Shuffle Along Cast Show Out On Maya & Marty!
Tony Award-winning choreographer Savion Glover and the Broadway cast of Shuffle Along made an appearance on the premiere of NBC’s brand new variety show “Maya & Marty” starring “Saturday Night Live’s” Maya Rudolph and Tony winner Martin Short, in their first live televised performance.
With suitcases in hand and accompanied by no music, the ensemble cast of thirteen closed the premiere with the “Pennsylvania Graveyard Shuffle,” midway through joined by Glover, the musical’s choreographer.
The six-episode series, taped from Studio 6A in NBC’s headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in front of a studio audience, features a set of comedy sketches, celebrity guests, musical numbers, and a spectacular onstage band led by Charlie Rosen.
Among the other guests of the May 31st premiere were “SNL’s” Kenan Thompson, Tom Hanks, Larry David, with a performance by Miley Cyrus.
Based on the original 1921 musical revue, this new ten-time Tony-nominated production, billed as Shuffle Along, or, the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed, is directed by George C. Wolfe.
This adaptation stars Tony winners Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and Billy Porter, and focuses on the original composers’, Eubie Blake (played by Brandon Victor Dixon) and Noble Sissle (Joshua Henry), challenges in creating the production as well as their trials and tribulations in later years.
This year, Shuffle Along received the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical.
McDonald will take a maternity leave of absence at the end of July, and Rhiannon Giddens, in her first appearance on Broadway, will be her replacement in the role of Lottie Gee. Glover will also join the cast during Giddens’ run.
Glover recently appeared on NBC’s “Late Night: Seth Meyers.”
“Maya & Marty” is a spin-off of Rudolph’s original variety show pilot, “The Maya Rudolph Show” which aired in 2014, but wasn’t picked up for a series.
“Maya & Marty” airs Tuesdays at 10 PM ET on NBC.
For tickets to Shuffle Along.
Live Tweet With Us for Lady Day Starring Audra McDonald
HBO is getting ready to remind us why Audra McDonald is a six-time Tony Award-winning, history-making actress. If you weren’t able to make it to NYC (or can’t make it to London this summer) for her captivating performance as Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, HBO is doing the whole world a favor by premiering it Saturday night. Filmed before a live audience at Cafe Brasil in New Orleans, the special features McDonald in her legendary, tour de force performance as the jazz icon.
Broadway Black will of course be on hand live tweeting that night, using the hashtag #LadyDayBB throughout the entire night. We ask you to join us for a can’t miss performance.
Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill premieres on HBO at 9 PM Saturday March 12, 2016.
HBO also released a full trailer and interview featurette for Lady Day with Audra McDonald talking about transforming into the legendary Billie Holiday. Check out the videos below and be sure to live tweet with us!
Renee Elise Goldsberry talks Hamilton on Late Night With Seth Meyers
Last Monday night talk shows were filled with #Blackgirlmagic and #BroadwayBlack magic. Not only were we treated to Audra McDonald talking Shuffle Along on Fallon, right after on NBC the dynamic Renee Elise Goldsberry made an appearance on Late Night With Seth Meyers.
Goldsberry, who plays Angelica Schuyler in the Broadway smash hit Hamilton visited Late Night with Seth Meyers to talk about the show and its recent performance on the Grammy Awards, among other things. In the clip below, Goldsberry hilariously explains how she didn’t even know that she also won a Grammy until a few days after the telecast.
In this last clip she tells how it feels to be accepted by the hip-hop community as a rapper (a woman acutally stopped her on the train to ask her if she was a rapper!), especially after the cast participated in the BET Hip Hop Awards Cypher last year:
“Grease: Live” An Upgraded Musical TV Event?
“FOX Network is revving up promotions as it prepares for the premiere of this season’s musical event, “Grease: Live!”
Taking a page from NBC after three years of record-breaking musical broadcasts, FOX is hoping to become the second network to reach ratings gold with the live presentation. The three-hour telecast will feature songs from the 1972 stage production as well as the 1978 film.
FOX has made a few minor changes that may give NBC a run for its money. Firstly, the event premieres on a Sunday, which may make the broadcast more accessible to families, theater lovers, and most importantly, theater performers. Over the years, NBC has scheduled their events on Thursday night, which made it difficult for theater performers (a highly supportive and pivotal demographic) to enjoy the event live, since they too are performing at that time. In addition, FOX announced they would be performing the show in front of a live audience, a missing element critics noted affected the energy in live filmed adaptations of staged shows.
FOX announced in May that Cinderella star KeKe Palmer would be joining the cast as “Marty Maraschino”, one of the infamous Pink Ladies. Along with Palmer is Disney heartthrob Jordan Fisher as “Doody” and Broadway Black spotted Bring It On alum “Gregory Haney” and a couple of other chocolate drops on Instagram rounding off the ensemble. Most importantly, for the Motown Philly lover in all of us, Boyz II Men has signed on to play the crooner role of “Teen Angel” collectively, a role made famous by Frankie Avalon.
“Grease: Live” is being staged by brilliant Hamilton director, Thomas Kail. The full cast includes Julianne Hough as “Sandy”, Aaron Tveit as “Danny Zuko”, Andrew Call as “Sonny”, David Del Rio as “Putzie”, Kether Donohue as “Jan”, Jordan Fisher as “Doody”, Ana Gasteyer as “Principal”, Vanessa Hudgens as “Rizzo”, Carly Rae Jepsen as “Frenchie”, Mario Lopez as “Vince Fontaine”, Carlos PenaVega as “Kenickie”, and Eve Plumb as “Mrs. Murdock.”
“Grease: Live” will cruise onto FOX Sunday, Jan. 31 at 8 p.m. Will you be watching???
Life Essentials with Ruby Dee Documentary To Air On Centric
Life’s Essentials with Ruby Dee finally has a release date, this Sunday, January 17, at 3:00 p.m. EST on Centric. And what a fitting time for it be released, as this past year has been a constant battle with racial injustices in our country currently.
This documentary reminds us of a time when artists used their platforms for more than endorsements, but spoke up about real issues that plagued their communities. When caring about your community was more important than appealing to the white gaze or worrying about how to be politically correct to maintain their “popularity” , Ruby Dee (A Raisin In The Sun) and Ossie Davis weren’t afraid to speak up and out.
Two years before Ruby passed in 2014, her grandson, Muta’ Ali Muhammad announced a kickstarter campaign to help produce and release a documentary about his grandparents’ lives, activism, and love.
The press release describes the film;
For more than a half century, audiences have been mesmerized by the love story between Hollywood legends Ossie Davis & Ruby Dee. Now, their grandson Muta’Ali unearths the foundation of this unbreakable bond in the documentary “Life’s Essentials with Ruby Dee,” which premieres on Centric TV Sunday, January 17, 2016 at 3 pm. Through intimate conversations with the award-winning actress, playwright and activist, Muta’Ali not only discovers intimate details about his grandparents’ relationship, but also questions his ability to carry on the very dynasty that gave him life. In the film, the director breaks the wall between himself and his subject to ask heartfelt questions of his grandmother. “How do you stay faithful? And if I can’t see myself doing that, how can I honestly get married knowing that I could eventually break the heart of the woman I love?”
“I can’t say I didn’t do anything to make Ossie unhappy…” Ms. Dee states as she carefully reveals the core commitment made between her and Mr. Davis. Her answer only sparked more questions for Muta’Ali, provoking him to dig deeper into the family archives and the history that chronicles their remarkable journey as trailblazers in the arts community and activists in the Civil Rights Movement. Muta’Ali also shares exclusive video footage, family photos and memorabilia. In addition, a host of celebrity friends like Alan Alda, Angela Bassett, Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, Hill Harper, Samuel Jackson, Spike Lee, S. Epatha Merkerson, Phylicia Rashad, Glynn Turman, Dr. Cornel West, Sonia Sanchez and Malik Yoba share eyewitness accounts of this American legacy.
Check out the trailer for the feature-length documentary below and be sure to check your local listings to catch Life’s Essentials with Ruby Dee this Sunday, January 17, at 3:00 p.m. EST on Centric!