Dancing diva herself, Ms. Brenda Braxton has joined some of the original cast of the Tony Award-winning musical After Midnight on Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest and biggest ship.
The premiere cruise line announced in January that they would be bringing the jazz-filled spectacle to their newest ship, the 4,200 passenger Norwegian Escape. Playing weekly in the vessels’ 800-seat Escape Theater, the Broadway experience is just one of many notable features of the ship.
Since Braxton’s Broadway debut, just a year out of high school, the Diva (as I like to call her) has appeared in Dreamgirls, Jelly’s Last Jam, and Cats. She’s become a frequent favorite of the long-running Fosse hit Chicago and in 1995 she earned a Tony Award nomination for her famous portrayal in Smokey Joe’s Cafe. In addition to her work on TV shows “Smash” and “Nurse Jackie,” the Golden Girl also recently launched “ACT 2…Now What?,” a “series of seminars and workshops for women over 50 looking to make the Act 2 of their lives spectacular on their own terms.”
After Midnight opened in the fall of 2013 and despite its short run, was a critical success from the start. Earning seven Tony Award nominations, the City Center transfer welcomed the stunning artistry of musical greats including Gladys Knight, Natalie Cole, Patti LaBelle, Toni Braxton, Babyface, Vanessa Williams, and Fantasia Barrino.
“Refracted through a contemporary lens, After Midnight celebrates Duke Ellington’s years at the Cotton Club using his original arrangements and performed by a world-class big band of 17 musicians hand-picked by living jazz legend, Wynton Marsalis. The timeless tunes set against a narrative of Langston Hughes poetry provide an authentic backdrop for an array of cutting-edge performances by 25 sensational vocalists and dancers, including special guest stars, whose interpretations shatter everything you think you know about music, nightlife and Broadway.”
Conceived by Producer Jack Viertel, the 90-minute musical will be re-created on board the Escape by its original director/choreographer, Tony Award winner Warren Carlyle, and will feature the look and feel of its original design team, including Isabel Toledo’s costumes and John Lee Beatty’s set. The Norwegian Escape will take its maiden voyage on Nov. 9.
Protected: Get Your War Clothes On: Billy Porter Energizes in GLAAD Acceptance Speech
Could The Color Purple Be On Its Way to an Emmy Award?
Just one month after scoring a Grammy Award for “Best Musical Theater Album,” The Color Purple, which starred Tony and Grammy Award winner Cynthia Erivo, may get an Emmy as well. Announced on March 22nd, one of their live television performances received a Daytime Emmy Award nomination for “Outstanding On-Camera Musical Performance in a Daytime Program.”
Last year, as part of the NBC Citi Concert Series on Today Show’s Best of Broadway Week, the cast of The Color Purple made a guest appearance to sing the title number of the musical, led by Erivo. In a performance that left us breathless and astonished, this would appropriately be the same morning the cast learned they received four Tony nominations, including “Best Revival of a Musical.”
Based on the novel by Alice Walker, The Color Purple first appeared on Broadway in 2005, earning 11 Tony nominations. The recent scaled down version, directed by John Doyle, opened in December of 2015, and ran for 450 performances before closing on January 8th, 2017.
A North American tour launches in the fall later this year. Check The Color Purple for more information.
Now we can’t help but wish for a musical film adaptation, with Erivo reprising Celie. We’ve no doubt she’d easily snatch up her EGOT-status. Regardless, congratulations are in order for the cast of The Color Purple!
Edit: While this is the first time a Broadway production has been nominated in these categories, Erivo and the cast will not actually be eligible to receive the award. Instead it will go to the program that hosted the performance.
Viola Davis To Star In Film Adaption of Small Great Things
Viola Davis has no intention of slowing down, ever. After picking up her Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Fences on Sunday, Deadline reported she is set to star in the film adaption, alongside Julia Roberts, of Jodi Picoult’s New York Times Bestseller, Small Great Things. The duo’s last project together was the 2010 film adaptation of Eat Pray Love.
Small Great Things centers on a labor/delivery nurse who takes care of newborns at a Connecticut hospital. She is ordered not to touch the baby of a white supremacist couple. When the baby dies in her care, she is then taken to court by the couple and charged with a serious crime.
What a timely moment for a movie like this to be in the works, especially given the current climate of the United States. This story touches on race, civil rights for all citizens, the justice system and privilege. The book does a good job of examining racism both subtly and overtly in a way that leaves readers with questions about themselves, privilege, and power sparking insightful discussions. If the book can do that, we can not wait to see how the film amplifies the message! The audiobook also features Queen Audra McDonald.
The selfish part of me is really here for Viola Davis going off on a racist white woman (and she doesn’t have to play a maid to do it) *insert upside down smiley face*.
Is that a new role, Aaron Burr, Sir? Brandon Victor Dixon Joins Power
The streets of 45th may no longer be paved in gold, but the we continue to see full-blown streaks of the silver lining in life post Shuffle Along. Tony nominated Brandon Victor Dixon, who is currently starring as Aaron Burr in the Broadway production of Hamilton, is taking his talents to the small screen. Dixon joins the fourth season of “Power” as Terry Silver, an attorney that raises a suspicious brow to Ghost’s (Omari Hardwick) criminal activity.
Produced by Curtis Jackson (50 Cent) and created by Courtney A. Kemp, “Power” has become the most popular show on the STARZ network and currently competes for the Sunday night entertainment slot in the house of many. The fourth season is slated to air Summer 2017 and picks up after the arrest of James St. Patrick/ Ghost by his ex-mistress, Assistant US Attorney Angela Valdez (Lela Loren). Yikes. #TeamTasha
It might just be me, but “Power” was starting to take a stroll down This Is Too Much Boulevard. I’m hoping the addition of new recurring characters will give the series a breath of fresh air. Speaking of fresh air, shout out to Broadway Black favorite and Tony winner, Anika Noni Rose, for staking her claim in this mega hit series with a stunning debut in season 3 as the crooked cop, Jukebox.
The world proves to be wide enough. Let’s continue to support black theatre and black television. Congrats, Brandon!
BVD received a 2016 Tony nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical for his role as Eubie Blake in Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. A member of the Original Broadway Cast of The Color Purple, he received a Tony nod for his portrayal of Harpo. Other notable work includes: Motown: The Musical and Scottsboro Boys.
Cicely Tyson To Be Honored At American Theatre Wing 2016 Gala
Photo by Charles Sykes
The American Theatre Wing will honor Tony winner Cicely Tyson at its annual Gala September 26 at The Plaza Hotel (Fifth Avenue at Central Park South).
Tyson, who was last on Broadway in a revival of The Gin Game, joins the ranks of her fellow co-star James Earl Jones and countless others including; Dame Angela Lansbury, Julie Taymor, and Stephen Sondheim to name a few.
“Cicely Tyson exemplifies what the American Theatre Wing is all about, from her career-defining performances to her passionate commitment to arts education via her namesake performing and fine arts school,” said Heather Hitchens, president, and CEO of the Wing, in a statement. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to honor her at this year’s Gala.”
The funds raised at the annual event will provide support for the Wing’s programs, such as SpringboardNYC, the Theatre Intern Network, the Andrew Lloyd Webber Initiative, which champion and celebrate American theatre and ensure that the next generation is “on the stage, behind the scenes, and in the audience.”
Honorary co-chairs for the event include Kathy Bates, LaTanya Richardson Jackson and Samuel L. Jackson, Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee, Pauletta and Denzel Washington, and Alfre Woodard and Roderick Spencer. Marva A. Smalls, CeCe Black, and Anki Leeds will serve as Gala Chairs.
The evening includes cocktails, dinner, and performances. For tickets and more information, contact Jeremiah Hernandez by calling (212) 765-0606 or emailing email@example.com.
Until then, lets look back at the Broadway Black interview on Opening Night of The Gin Game starring Tyson & Jones
Heather Headley (Finally!) Gets Her Caricature At Sardi’s
Tony Award-winning actress and certified wig snatcher, Heather Headley, currently having us all protect our edges in The Color Purple, celebrated her Sardi’s caricature unveiling with co-stars Cynthia Erivo, Danielle Brooks and many more August 9. All we can say here is ABOUT DAMN TIME.
How cool is that…and she looks like me, too…or maybe I look like HER😆. https://t.co/olAz3VuWKc
— Heather Headley (@heatherheadley) August 10, 2016
Why you ask? I mean check her credentials.
Heather earned a Tony Award in 2000 for her performance in Aida and before that she originated the role of Nala (key word ORIGINATED) in The Lion King in her Broadway debut. She then went on to pursue a music career, releasing her debut album This Is Who I Am in 2002 and later earning a Grammy for her 2009 album Audience of One.
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. After a 16-year absence from the Broadway stage, the queen blessed us with her talents once more joining the cast of The Color Purple in May, taking over for the revivals original Shug Avery, Jennifer Hudson. A move that was a blessing, because seeing her and Cynthia sing “What About Love?” is spiritual experience we didn’t know we needed.
And because we’re in the spirit of giving, go ahead and buy your tickets to The Color Purple here.
And because we’re feeling extra, extra nice get your life watching Heather singing “Memory” from Cats below. You are welcome.
Heather Headley singing ‘Memory’ from the musical Cats for ‘Andrew Lloyd Webber – 40 Musical Years’ TV Special
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