It seems as though Broadway is taking a page out of televisions’s book and bringing more actors of color front and center–where they belong. The upcoming 2015-16 season has a plethora of roles for Black actors and actresses to get some shine on the Broadway stage. To help get you prepared for the season, Broadway Black has a line up of all the shows you will definitely need to see. Some original, some revivals, some plays, some musicals, some Broadway Black legends and some soon to be. Either way, these are shows you don’t want to miss.
- Theatre: Nederlander Theatre
- First Preview: June 25, 2015
- Opening: July 16, 2015
- Written by Arthur Giron (Book), Arthur Giron and Christopher Smith (Music & Lyrics)
- Director: Gabriel Barre
- Cast: Josh Young, Erin Mackey, Chuck Cooper, Harriet D. Foy, Laiona Michelle, Rachael Ferrera
- A new-original musical based on the awe-inspiring true story behind the world’s most beloved song. A tale of romance, rebellion and redemption that follows one man whose incredible journey ignited a historic wave of change.
- Website: http://amazinggracemusical.com/
- Theatre: Richard Rodgers Theatre
- First Preview: July 13, 2015
- Opening: August 6, 2015
- Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda (Book, Music & Lyrics)
- Director: Thomas Kail
- Cast: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Christopher Jackson, Leslie Odom Jr., Phillipa Soo
- Originally premiered Off-Broadway at The Public Theatre, Hamilton makes its move to the Great White Way. From bastard orphan to Washington’s right hand man, rebel to war hero, loving husband caught in the country’s first sex scandal to Treasury head who made an untrusting world believe in the American economy, Hamilton is an exploration of a political mastermind.
- Website: http://www.hamiltonbroadway.com/
- Theatre: Golden Theatre
- First Preview: Sept. 21, 2015
- Opening: Oct. 13, 2015
- Written by D.L. Coburn
- Director: Leonard Foglia
- Cast: James Earl Jones, Cicely Tyson
- An elderly couple at a nursing home play an increasingly tense series of gin rummy games as they expose truths about their failures, disappointments and insecurities.
- Theatre: Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre
- First Preview: November 9, 2015
- Opening: December 10, 2015
- Written by Marsha Norman (Book), Brenda Russell, Allee Willis & Stephen Bray (Music & Lyrics), Alice Walker (Novel)
- Director: John Doyle
- Cast: Cynthia Erivo, Jennifer Hudson, Danielle Brooks
- Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker, The Color Purple follows the inspirational Celie as she journeys from childhood through joy and despair, anguish and hope to discover the power of love and life. Tickets go on sale June 30.
- Website: http://colorpurple.com/
- Theatre: Music Box Theatre
- First Preview: March 14, 2016
- Opening: April 21, 2016
- Written by Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle (Music), George C. Wolfe (Book)
- Director: George C. Wolfe, Savion Glover (Choreography)
- Cast: Audra McDonald,
- A backstage musical about the events that led to the creation of the groundbreaking Eubie Blake-Noble Sissle 1921 musical Shuffle Along that starred Josephine Baker and Paul Robeson
Children of a Lesser God
- Theatre: TBA
- Target Opening: 2015-16 Season
- Written by Mark Medoff
- Director: Kenny Leon
- Cast: TBA
- The story of James Leeds, a new teacher at a school for the deaf, and Sarah Norman, the school’s one-time star student who has stayed behind as its cleaning woman rather than venturing out into the hearing world. James immediately takes a keen interest in Sarah, and tries to persuade her to communicate orally by lip reading. They soon embark on an emotional journey that will teach them both new ways of communicating and loving and, in the process, they build a romance beyond words.
With such an awesome and diverse lineup–both on stage and behind the scenes– our hope is that these shows can and will be seen by as many people as possible, to show the theatre world what else there is to offer. More diverse storytelling leads to a more diverse audience, which keeps the theatre alive. So do me and everyone else here at Broadway Black a huge favor; if you can get your hands on these tickets GO and while you’re at it, tell a friend or two.
The Public Theater Will Present Hercules Musical & Hercules Is Black!
We knew it was coming, we just didn’t know when. Back in 2017, we reported that a musical adaptation of the Disney movie Hercules would be headed to Broadway. Now we can confirm that is somewhat true.
Hercules will be the latest Disney musical to be made for the stage and will play Off-Broadway at the Public Theater’s Delacorte Theater in Central Park. As the final show of the Shakespeare in the Park season theater season performances will run August 31 through September 8 with a reading set to take place in April.
The role of Hercules will be played by a Black actor, according to the casting notice
The musical will include the Oscar-nominated “Go the Distance, along with other songs from the 1997 animated film by Alan Menken & David Zippel. Presented through an arrangement with Disney Theatrical Productions, the show will be directed by Lear deBessonet. The creative team also includes a book by Kristoffer Diaz, & choreography by Chase Brock.
Before Hercules, Kenny Leon will direct the Much Ado About Nothing May 21 through June 23 to begin the Shakespeare in the Park season.
Casting for all both productions will be announced at a later date
Lynn Nottage Today, Tomorrow and Beyond
Lynn Nottage’s 2017 Tony Award nominated play Sweat ended its Broadway run at Studio 54 on June 25. We weren’t ready to say goodbye to Sweat, and we’re definitely not ready to say goodbye to Lynn Nottage, leaving us to wonder what’s next for the two-time Pulitzer prize-winning playwright?
First, if you didn’t get a chance to see Sweat on Broadway or if you did but can’t get one of the poorest cities in America off your heart and mind, then you’ll want to visit Reading, Pennsylvania this summer. Shortly after finishing Sweat, Nottage came up with the idea for a site-specific performance installation honoring the people of Reading. Nottage shared that for a city divided by economical and racial politics, she wanted to highlight the city’s potential to use art and culture to bring its citizens together. The installation titled This is Reading will weave “individual stories into one cohesive and compelling tale of the city. Exploring the various viewpoints of the diverse community, [and] give the audience a vibrant and unique perspective of the city of Reading.” The installation will utilize live performance, visual media, and film. Located at Franklin Street Station, Reading PA, This is Reading will run July 14-16, July 21-23 and July 28-30.
What could possibly be next for Nottage? A musical of course!
Not just any musical, but an adaptation of Sue Monk Kidd’s book, The Secret Life of Bees. Book by Nottage, music by Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening), lyrics by Susan Birkenhead (Jelly’s Last Jam) and direction by Sam Gold (Fun Home).
Nottage’s first musical follows the story of Lilly Owens, a white teen growing up in 1960’s South Carolina and her Black caretaker Rosaleen. After Rosaleen is hospitalized following an attempt to vote, she and Lily do their best to escape the harsh realities of their respective lives in the Jim Crow South, and happen upon a bee farm. “It sang to me” Nottage said of adapting Kidd’s book to a musical, “Every page I saw a song.”
The Secret Life of Bees will be presented as a workshop production at the Powerhouse Theater from July 27-29, apart of the New York Stage and Film’s 2017 season.
Finally, for the 2017/2018 season, Nottage’s play Mlima’s Tale will make it’s world premiere at The Public Theater and run from March 27 through May 20, 2018. Mlima’s Tale follows the story of Mlima, an african elephant caught between freedom and the
international ivory black market. Ultimately a story about trade itself, “Mlima leads us through memory and fear, history and tradition, want and need, and reveals the surprising and complicated deals that connect us all.” Next season, The Public will celebrate 50 years at its Astor Place location, and Lynn Nottage will be the only Black playwright with work presented.
From a site-specific performance installation, to her first musical, ending with another show at The Public Theater… Lynn Nottage has given us a lot to look forward to following her Broadway debut, and we will be ready. Sitting front and center.
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