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What If… All Black Cast of Next To Normal?

Jerrica White

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11 Tony Nominations. 3 Wins. A Pulitzer Prize for Drama. 

Next to Normal is the rock musical that shook 2009, and the score isn’t the only thing that is electrifying. 

It’s hard-hitting. It’s gritty. It’s sad. But, above all, it’s true. And it meets us in the alley of our mind most of us have spent the majority of our lives shying away from.

It rips down the kitchen curtain of suburban America, allowing us to peer into the life of the stereotypical “perfect and loving” family. Pop the pills in their medicine cabinets. And sit at the dinner table with their depression.

Diana, the mother, is desperately searching her heart to provide love to her daughter and husband through the haziness of hallucinations and severe depression. It’s heartbreaking to see a mother trying her best to feel numb. We cry with her husband trying to hold on to thin air. We empathize with the frustration of the daughter as she attempts to churn chaos into brilliance, in order to seek approval and attention, and her place in the family.

Composer Tom Kitt and book writer/lyricist Brian Yorkey wrote a show that shattered the normality of a hard working family— a family that could just as easily be yours or mine.

It’s no secret that discussions of mental health are taboo in the Black community. No matter how much we as beautiful and strong African Americans persevere and provide, it’s okay to admit that depression, thoughts of suicide, drug abuse, and mental imbalance permeate our seemingly impenetrable skin and the lives of those we love.

Sometimes we need help and no, it’s not a sign of weakness.

Sometimes we need someone to talk to. And it’s okay if it’s a therapist.

Our family and faith hold us down. But we must understand that, sometimes, this is just not enough.

This work strikes so close to home because it reminds us that we’re all truly living on an avenue to the left of Normal, several blocks from Average, and across the tracks from Easy. It’s about time we bring this pressing topic to the stage with people who look like us and embody our truth.

In 2012, Director David Norwood and Musically Human Theatre mounted a production with Nicole Powell (Ragtime, Hairspray) as Diana. Producers were on the money with realizing the opportunity in casting a Black woman as Diana and how it could shed light on mental illness in the Black community. We could and should do more.

We need to see a strong Black man and father standing by his wife’s side, through thick and thin, and in sickness and in health. We need to see a Black daughter—beautiful, intelligent, and musically adept—crumbling under the pressure of a dysfunctional family, but fighting to hold them together. We need to see a Black family cope and search for hope, in the darkness of the loss that has waged a different toll on all of them. 

It’s time to stop sidestepping this pressing topic and bring it to the eyes of our people, through one of the most powerful pieces of this lifetime. If we build a masterpiece for us, our people will come. Hopefully, then we’ll be ready to dialogue and make changes to the ideology of our future, starting from within.

Next to Normal originally opened on Broadway in 2009 starring Alice Ripley, Aaron Tveit, Brian d’Arcy James, Jennifer Damiano, Adam Chanler-Berat, and Asa Somers.

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It’s A Snoopsical! Snoop Dogg Joined by Tamar Braxton for Redemption of A Dogg Musical Stageplay

Broadway Black

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Yes, You read that right. Snoop Dogg will make his theatrical debut in a new stage play titled Redemption of a Dogg also starring R&B superstar Tamar Braxton. Teaming up with the same producer who brought us Set It Off Live!Je’Caryous Johnson, the play will begin touring in October starting in Houston, TX.

Johnson also serves as writer and director for the production, described as the chronicles of  “a character built around the persona of Snoop Dogg – a multi-faceted character who is a gangsta rapper, family man and man of God.”

The stage play is said to ‘examine the internal battle one man has between preserving his life-long legacy and losing the love of his life when he is faced with choosing fame and fortune over faith and family.”

“Redemption of a Dogg is set against a backdrop of Snoop Dogg’s greatest hits, as well as, songs from his recently released chart-topping Gospel album, Bible Of Love.” according to the press release.

 “Please believe you’ve never seen urban theatre like this! With my flavor and his (Je’Caryous Johnson) expertise, we’re gonna bring the people an unmissable show. I can’t wait for everyone out there to see it!”  — Snoop Dogg

 

FALL 2018 REDEMPTION OF A DOGG TOUR DATES:

October 5-7                          Houston, TX                    Hobby Center

October 11                           Newark, NJ                     NJPAC

October 12-13                      Philadelphia, PA             Tower Theater

October 14                           Brooklyn, NY                  Kings Theatre

October 19                           St. Louis, MO                  Stifel Theatre

October 20-21                      Chicago, IL                     Arie Crown

October 25-27                      Detroit, MI                      Music Hall

October 28                           Cleveland, OH                 KeyBank State Theatre

November 2                         Atlanta, GA                      Fox Theatre

November 8                         Norfolk, VA                       Chrysler Hall

November 9-11                    Washington, DC               Warner Theatre

November 16                       Los Angeles, CA                Microsoft Theater

November 17                       Long Beach, CA                  Terrace Theater

November 18                       Oakland, CA                       Paramount Theatre

*Dates Subject to Change Without Notice and More Cities To Be Added

For more info go to www.jecaryous.com

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Award Season '18

Tony! Toni! Toné! Awards 2018 Presenters and Performances

Morgan Green

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It’s time Y’all, for the 2018 Tony Awards. This Sunday. Go to church. Grab a plate from your grandma or play-cousins house and get comfy!

Some of the performances we are looking ready for include the wig snatch that is Caissie Levy! Bruce Springsteen, who is also going to rock the stage! EVERYTHING that is Once On This Island! While we too are secretly hoping for that Yolanda Adams bop from Spongebob The Musical to be performed, we know whatever Tina Landau and her aquatic squad bring to the Radio City Stage is sure to help us get through the inevitable Tony recovery week that looms head on Monday.

 

New musicals nominated include: “The Bands Visit,” “Mean Girls,” “Frozen,” and “Spongebob Squarepants The Musical,” each nominated for Best New Musical. Adding to that list,  “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical” which brings along two performance nominations.

 

This season of musical revivals includes “Carousel”, “Once On This Island”, and “My Fair Lady”. 

Once on This Island
Photo: Joan Marcus

Plays nominated this season, new and revived, include: “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”, “The Children”, “Farinelli And The King”, “Junk”, “Latin History for Morons, Angels In America”, “Three Tall Women”, “The Iceman Cometh”, “Lobby Hero”, “Travesties”, and Saint Joan’s Condola Rashad.

 

Some of the presenters include Bernadette Peters, Brandon Victor DixonKerry Washington, Titus Burgess, and Viola Davis (not really. But if we say her name in the mirror three times, she’ll appear right?)

 Who else is set to appear? Glad you asked. You’ll see the familiar faces of Uzo Aduba, Leslie Odom Jr., James Monroe Iglehart, Christopher Jackson, and more!

So tune in to CBS June 10th, Sunday at 8 pm eastern time to catch all the fantastic performances and see who gets to turn from Tony Award Nominee to Tony Award winner!

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Top 15 #ShakespeareInTheTrump Julius Caesar Tweets

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[vc_row][vc_column css_animation=”bounceInDown”][vc_column_text css_animation=”rotateInDownLeft”]The Public Theater‘s Julius Caesar, directed by Oskar Eustis for #ShakespeareInThePark closes today after waves of controversy threatened the very stage upon which it was performed. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern…, I mean Delta Airlines and Bank of America withdrew their support from the production when it was clear that the actor playing Caesar, Gregg Henry, would resemble President Trump. Comparisons have been drawn to the 2012 staging of the same play by the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis where Caesar was played by Bjorn DuPaty, a Black man meant to portray President Obama.

Guthrie Theater’s Julius Caesar starring Bjorn Dupaty | Photo: Heidi Bohnenkamp

The historical account of Caesar’s downfall have permeated the arts many times and has often resembled current events. However, many of President Trump’s supporters have taken particular offense to this year’s offering and on June 16th, a blogger named Laura Loomer charged the stage immediately after the titular character’s death in Act 3; shouting that the play promoted normalization of violence against the right-wing. Loomer and another protester were removed from the theater and charged with trespassing.

Soon after, the hashtag #ShakespeareInTheTrump went viral on Twitter when blogger John Aravosis queried, “What if all of Shakespeare was really written about Donald Trump? What would the titles be?” The Shakespeare fans of the Internet swarmed with responses and we’ve compiled the best 15 just for you!

John Aravosis on Twitter

What if all of Shakespeare was really written about Donald Trump? What would the titles be? King Lear –> King Leer. #ShakespeareInTheTrump

King Leer was an instant internet favorite with a play on King Lear and the reports that Trump would often enter dressing rooms of beauty pageants unannounced.

rahaeli on Twitter

A little more than kin, and less than unqualified #ShakespeareInTheTrump

This line from Hamlet uttered by the title character displays his disregard for the familial ties to his murderous uncle. The tweet seems to point at Trump’s lack of public service experience before taking office.

sander gusinow on Twitter

It is my opinion that the entire Tempest was a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese. #ShakespeareInTheTrump

Ah, yes! Climate change is a hoax! Or so tweeted our illustrious leader in 2012. But Shakespeare’s The Tempest is certainly no hoax… or is it?!?!? [editor’s note: I just checked. both climate change and The Tempest are real. As you were.]

Momo Pnano on Twitter

ShakespeareInTheTrump I hope some street vendor is smart enough to be serving Orange Julius Caesars after the show.

Oy, now I’m craving Orange Julius! They should include a discount to anyone who whispers, “Et tu, Brute?” after their delicious citrus drink is stabbed by eight straws.

Shelby Lynn on Twitter

Now is the 4 years of our discontent… #ShakespeareInTheTrump

We hear you, Shelby. Roughly quoting the first line of The Tragedy of King Richard III shows how most of Trump’s policies have really put down minorities and other marginalized groups since he took office.

Kate on Twitter

Yon Comey has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much; such men are dangerous. #ShakespeareInTheTrump

Caesar’s line from Act I about Brutus shows that J.C. just can’t trust skinny people… or thinkers. This tweet points at Trump’s removal of former FBI Director James Comey in mid-April. And at 6’8″ tall, Comey certainly fits the lean description!

https://twitter.com/sean_p_thomas/status/876252812450988032

Preach, Sean! Mr. Patrick Thomas made his Broadway debut in 2014 featured in Broadway revival of A Raisin In The Sun starring Denzel Washington. Here he references Shakespeare’s play All’s Well That Ends Well. His acting chops seem to range from Saving The Last Dance to 14th-century literature so we hope to see him on a stage again soon!

https://twitter.com/ibthatdood/status/876165397363470336

As we mentioned above, Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis staged a production in 2012. That’s Julius there on the ground, covered in blood. Are we surprised that people are treating the deaths of a Black man and a white man differently? WE ARE NOT.

 

G.E. Filtefish on Twitter

If you prick us do we not have blood coming out of our wherever? #ShakespeareInTheTrump

Ok, so this one is farther down the list but IT IS GOLD! Remember early August 2015? The good old days? Trump was displeased with debate moderator Megyn Kelly’s job and said, “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” If I could meet The Merchant of Venice, from whence this quote comes, I’d buy a time machine just to go back to this time, when we had a different president. And a pound of meat. I hear he deals in meat. [editor furtively whispers in my ear] Oh, human hearts. Nevermind. I pass.

Mark Hamill on Twitter

The Merchant of Venom-King Leer-Much Ado About Twitter-All’s Well That Ends Well With Mueller-Covfefeolanus #ShakespeareinThetRump

Luke Skywalker couldn’t stick to just one pun! Five titles crammed into one tweet but the cherry on top is the riff on Coriolanus and Trump’s incomprehensible tweet from later last month, covfefe.

Cali Dreaming NaphiSoc on Twitter

shakespeareinthetrump Lord, what fools these mortals be

Fools indeed. I offer this submission to anyone who needs something to mutter under their breath when ridiculous things happen, as Puck does with this phrase from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Beau Willimon on Twitter

Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” #ShakespeareInTheTrump

And here we have another winner! This line from The Tempest sums up the current administration perfectly. And Mr. Willimon would know. He’s the creator of “House of Cards,” a man who has filled his share of fictional D.C. swamps.

Christian Christensen on Twitter

Henry Pleads the Vth #shakespeareinthetrump

Attorney General Jeff Sessions refused to say much of anything during congressional hearings last week about possible collusion with Russia during the Trump campaign. Is there possible collusion with The Life of Henry V? He’s not saying.

ShakespeareofThrones on Twitter

Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.” – Hamlet, III.i #ShakespeareInTheTrump

For some reason this picture reminds me of cold toothpaste and orange juice but I can’t figure why. It could be the madness that Hamlet is trying to warn us about.

https://twitter.com/JackPosobiec/status/875884114280423428

And finally we have the protesters who have clearly never heard the phrase, “The Show Must Go ON!” Of course, it’s not Shakespeare so maybe it was beyond them. Not only is this dudebro incapable of spelling Julius Caesar, he was also incapable of actually shutting anything down.

Your turn! What crazy Shakespeare title/quote might speak to you today, on this the day of my daughter’s wedding? [editor’s note: That’s from “The Godfather” and not Shakespeare.][/vc_column_text][vc_gallery interval=”5″ images=”18752,18751,18750,18749,18741,18740,18738″ img_size=”large” css_animation=”none” title=”The Public Theater’s Julius Caesar” css=”.vc_custom_1498096200124{background-color: #ffffff !important;background-position: 0 0 !important;background-repeat: no-repeat !important;}”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Our production of JULIUS CAESAR in no way advocates violence towards anyone. Shakespeare’s play, and our production, make the opposite point: those who attempt to defend democracy by undemocratic means pay a terrible price and destroy the very thing they are fighting to save. For over 400 years, Shakespeare’s play has told this story and we are proud to be telling it again in Central Park.

The Public Theater stands completely behind our production of JULIUS CAESAR.  We understand and respect the right of our sponsors and supporters to allocate their funding in line with their own values.  We recognize that our interpretation of the play has provoked heated discussion; audiences, sponsors and supporters have expressed varying viewpoints and opinions.

Such discussion is exactly the goal of our civically-engaged theater; this discourse is the basis of a healthy democracy.

 #WeAreOnePublic

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_video link=”https://youtu.be/1eZQr72JJto” title=”Julius Caesar #ShakespeareInThePark Opening Remarks by Director Oskar Eustis “][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Todrick Hall Joins the Cast of Kinky Boots November 1st

Tristan Halstead

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Everybody say “Yeah!” as YouTube and MTV star Todrick Hall laces up the sparkly red knee-high boots to join the cast of the Tony Award-winning musical Kinky Boots. The 31-year-old performer takes on the role of drag queen Lola, previously played by the likes of Billy Porter (which earned him a Tony) and Wayne Brady, starting November 1st.

Doing what he’s best at, Hall posted a short music video on YouTube to announce the casting.

Hall made his Broadway debut in the original production of The Color Purple. He initially rose to fame when he auditioned for the ninth season of “American Idol,” making it to the semi-finals.

Since then, he’s created countless YouTube parodies and music videos, earning over 2 million subscribers. This success lead to his own MTV show, “Todrick,” cancelled after one season.

In 2014, Hall played Rum Tum Tugger in the La Mirada/McCoy Rigby production of Cats. He appeared as a prominent guest judge on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

Focusing on his music career, Hall spent the summer on tour to promote his latest visual album, “Straight Outta Oz.” Inspired by Hamilton and Beyoncé‘s “Lemonade,” the hour-long video  presents a personal account of his life and his frustrations with the Hollywood industry.

With music and lyrics by recording artist Cyndi Lauper and a book by Harvey Fierstein, Kinky Boots tells the true story of a young man who, with the help of a drag queen, tries to save his father’s dilapidated shoe factory by developing a line of high-heeled boots.

Rivaling Matilda the Musical during the 2012-2013 season, the show earned six Tony Awards, including Best Musical, three Olivier Awards, and a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album. It has since opened subsequent international productions in South Korea, Australia, Toronto, Sweden, and Japan, with a US touring company.

With many of Todrick Hall’s videos parodying shows like Chicago and Beauty and the Beast, it’s no wonder his heart belongs to Broadway.

For tickets, visit Kinky Boots.

Visit Todrick Hall to see his YouTube videos.

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Is This Real Life or Is It Fantasy? ‘The Soul Of Richard Rodgers’

Jazmine Harper-Davis

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Minding my business, scrolling through Instagram and I stumble across a picture Princess Amber Iman put up of Billy Porter directing something. Cool, I think. As we know Billy is not only a talented actor/singer, but he’s also established himself to be quite the director. I keep scrolling, theres a picture of Leslie Odom Jr., Mykal Kilgore, Capathia Jenkins, and Jesse Nager. Again, I think REALLY COOL, a few of my favorites. THEN, I scroll and theres a picture of Nicolette Robinson, Rema Webb, Adrienne Warren and Amber Iman and I think, OKAY WHAT IS ACTUALLY GOING ON!

Our fearless leader, the Billy Porter! #TheSoulOfRogers

A photo posted by Amber Iman (@amberskyez) on

ALTO NATION! @leslieodomjr @mykalwitha_y @capathianyc @touringbwayboy #TheSoulOfRogers

A photo posted by Amber Iman (@amberskyez) on

SOPRANO GORGEOUSNESS! @remawebb @nicolettekloe @adriennelwarren #TheSoulOfRogers

A photo posted by Amber Iman (@amberskyez) on

Each posted needed with the the hashtag #thesoulofrogers , which reminded me of something back when I saw Leslie Odom Jr. at the McKittrick Hotel. When he casually called up Ledisi (when you wanna come back to Broadway, sis?) to the stage and she sang a Billy Porter arranged “Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered” from Richard Rodgers’ Pal Joey. Billy had arranged it as apart of a revue called The Soul of Richard Rodgers which was presented at Reprise Theater Company in LA in 2009.

So, is it possible that Billy Porter and Co. are bringing it back, this time to the east coast? One can only hope and pray that this turns out to be true and if indeed it is, I will be first in line to buy a ticket, CD, MP3 link, DVD, cassette tape, whatever is possible to hear that talented group of Broadway Black artists singing songs from one of the most brilliant composers.

Don’t worry, over here at Broadway Black we’re keeping our eyes peeled to keep YOU all in the loop. Stay Tuned.

 

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Get You a Fave That Can Do Both: Broadway Stars Get Political

Malia West

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                                                        Photo by Christopher Boudewyns for Broadway Black

 

These past weeks have been a phenomenal expression of talent and tenacity. From Audra McDonald and Cynthia Erivo snatching souls on Twitter, to Broadway for Black Lives Matter taking us to church, to the best DNC that has graced our country, we’ve been blessed.

Now, we all love a strong belt and a clean 8-count, but when an artist flexes their mental chops for the movement, that’s when they strike gold.

Ben Vereen and Broadway’s finest took the stage at the Democratic National Convention to pay homage to the lives taken in Orlando’s Pulse shooting. Their rendition of “What the World Needs Now is Love,” brought the crowd to their feet and put compassion at the forefront of politics if only for a moment. But ,Vereen was not there to simply lend his voice in song.

In partnership with ARTSPEAKS, Vereen advocated for arts education funding at both the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention. Vereen sat down with Huffington Post to expound on his stance, “I’m not saying everybody’s got to be a song and dance man or an artist, or whatever aspect that we separate ourselves from,” he said. “We need our creative thinking people in politics, in corporations to think on the up, rather than the down.”

Vereen’s outspokenness sparks a discussion on the ability of artists to be political thinkers as well. We know this to be true! We stanned as six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald took Bill O’Rielly on the dragging of his life and educated him on the historic tumultuousness of slavery. Tracie Thoms, of Rent and the upcoming Falsettos revival, is known for her outspokenness on issues regarding social justice. She is one of many that contributes to the education and expansion of the black community, simply by being aware and ensuring those around her are as well.

This past Monday, marked the first ever Broadway for Black Lives Matter. This event, for and by Broadway, invited the biggest names in the business to have an honest and productive conversation on bringing change to the social and political climate in America.

The Broadway for Black Lives Matter Collective conceived an event that changed the lives of everyone in attendance. With the help of Amber ImanAdrienne Warren, Britton Smith, and dozens of top Broadway talent, we found strength in numbers and power in politics. Norm Lewis, a panelist and longtime Broadway veteran, called for the investment of black money in black banks, the annual revaluation of police, and noted the loss of respect in the justice system. He spoke with the eloquence and passion of a young Cornel West. His tenacity does not stand alone.

The voices of Broadway are talented, to say the least; they have healed us, inspired us, and now they are encouraging us to be our best and brightest selves. The mind of artists is poignant, we are capable of rond de jambes and revolutions. Don’t count out the kid in the back with a paintbrush or song; the first thing to wow you may be their art, but it won’t be the last.

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