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Brenda Braxton Stars in After Midnight on the High Seas

Broadway Black

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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.

AfterMidnight from Norwegian Creative Studios on Vimeo.

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Award Nominations

Cynthia Erivo Nominated for BAFTA’s Rising Star Award

Drew Shade

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Cynthia Erivo at Opening Night of the Color Purple. Photo by Drew Shade

Tony, Emmy, and Grammy Award-winning actress, Cynthia Erivo, known for her transformative performance as Celie in the 2015 Broadway revival of The Color Purple is now one of five actors nominated for the British Academy of Film’s 2019 Rising Star Awards.

Most recently seen alongside Viola Davis in Steve McQueen’s Widows, Erivo says:

“I’m ever grateful to BAFTA and the jury panel for nominating me for the 2019 EE Rising Star Award. It means the world to me to be acknowledged by the community that, for most of my life, I’ve known as home. Thank you for this incredible honour.” – Cynthia Erivo

The BAFTA Awards will take place on February 10th.

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Get Your War Clothes On: Billy Porter Energizes in GLAAD Acceptance Speech

Jerrica White

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billy porter

So, I have a question.

In the same line of thought as “innocent until proven guilty,” do we grant the assumption of positive intent in our expectations of our brothers and sister in regards to woke-ness, à la woke until proven problematic?

Now don’t get me wrong, there was no doubt in my heart that Tony and Grammy Award-winner, Billy Porter, was woke. Nope, none. What I wasn’t ready for, was the way he fixed his fingers to pen one of the greatest acceptance speeches of my lifetime, and how he turned the Gospel classic “I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired” into a battle song.

The 28th Annual GLAAD Media Awards honored Billy Porter with the Vito Russo Award, presented to an openly LGBTQ media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality and acceptance.

He started by affirming the room full of members of marginalized communities, with my personal daily mantra: “You are enough. we are enough.”

Since the beginning of time artists are the folks who engage critically and encourage those who think they are powerless to question the status quo.

Brothers and sisters across the room leaned in.

The days of shut up and sing are over.

Alliteration informed and illustrated as Porter preached on remaining “vigilantly visual” as we tell our stories. Acknowledging the reality of our times, he spoke on Number 45:

Where they slipped up this time is in that declaration of war. It’s not only against Black and Brown people and Queer people anymore, it’s against ALL of us. And as a result, the good news is: white folk, and straight folk, and all those fierce women folk, are mad now. And NOW maybe something might get done!

Get. Your. War. Clothes. On.

From slavery to emancipation, to the 13th Amendment, to Jim Crow, to the Civil Rights Movement. From Stonewall to AIDS, to marriage equality— we gotta remember the shoulders who we stand on—the ones who fought and died for those freedoms that we hold so dear. Let’s use these historical strides we’ve made as a nation to empower us as warriors on this battlefield of equality.

Amen.

Until we can figure out how to love one another unconditionally, no one wins. Freedom. Equality. Justice. Have always come at a cost and evidently the always will.

If that’s not the truth.

Stay strong. Stay vigilante. Stay visible. Stay hopeful. Stay focused. Be brave. Be fierce.

Resist.

RESIST.

RESIST.

RESIST.

For a full list of this year’s winners, honorees, and guests, visit GLAAD.

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