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Danai Gurira, Stephen C. Byrd & Alia Jones-Harvey To Be Honored At TCG Gala

Alicia Samuel

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Tony Award nominated Eclipsed playwright and “The Walking Dead” star, Danai Gurira, along with our favorite Broadway producers, Stephen C. Byrd and Alia Jones Harvey and the Vlcek Foundation/Rick Kinsel will be honored at this year’s Theatre Communications Group Gala. These trailblazers will be honored Monday, November 14 at the Edison Ballroom in NYC.

“We’re thrilled to honor both the visionary artistry and activism of Danai Gurira as well as the groundbreaking work of producers Stephen C. Byrd and Alia M. Jones-Harvey,” said Teresa Eyring, executive director, TCG. “By bringing the voices of women from Liberia’s civil war to the Broadway stage through their acclaimed production of Eclipsed, they’ve reaffirmed theatre’s power to humanize and connect us across borders. The success of Eclipsed is also an example of TCG’s holistic approach to making a better world for—and because of—theatre. It was a TCG grant that supported the research and travel for the play; TCG Books will now keep it in print for many years to come and at our 2016 TCG National Conference in Washington DC, we featured U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power sharing the impact of plays like Eclipsed in her cultural diplomacy.

We are also delighted to have the opportunity to honor The Vilcek Foundation and its executive director Rick Kinsel. The Foundation provides annual prizes and awards to foreign- born practitioners in biomedical sciences and the arts. The arts focus for 2016 was theatre, and we were proud to see Blanka Zizka receive the Vilcek Prize in Theatre. Sarah Benson, Desdemona Chiang, and Yi Zhou each received Creative Promise Awards.”

Gurira recently received her first Tony Award nomination in 2016 for Best Play for her play Eclipsed. Featuring an all black female cast, Eclipsed was the first of its kind to ever hit Broadway. It also scored Tony nominations for Best Direction of a Play, Liesl Tommy, and Best Featured Actress in a Play, Saycon Sengbloh and Pascale Armand.

Stephen C. Byrd and Alia Jones-Harvey hold the distinction of being the only African-American lead producers on Broadway.  Together they comprise Front Row Productions, which aims to bring a unique brand of diversity to Broadway and London’s West End, both onstage and off, evidenced by their Olivier-winning production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in London’s West End (also on Broadway) starring James Earl Jones; and most recently by their acclaimed, 5-times Tony-nominated production of Danai Gurira’s Eclipsed starring Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o.  On Broadway, Byrd and Jones-Harvey are also responsible for multi-racial productions of A Streetcar Named Desire starring Blair Underwood and Daphne Rubin-Vega; Romeo & Juliet starring Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad; and The Trip to Bountiful which featured Cicely Tyson in a Tony-winning performance.

The Gala also offers an opportunity for the TCG community to celebrate the accomplishments of the past year and raise support for TCG’s wide-ranging programs and services. Highlights from the past year include: a National Conference in Washington, DC that brought over 200 theatre practitioners to Capitol Hill for meetings with legislators; the awarding of $1.184 million in Audience (R)Evolution Cohort Grants to innovative audience engagement projects; and the publication of significant work by emerging playwrights like Stephen Karam’s The Humans, Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Choir Boy, and Annie Baker’s John. In the spirit of the Gala honorees’ commitment to diversity and international activism, TCG is especially excited to celebrate the launch of the Global Theater Initiative, a partnership with the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics; and the groundbreaking meeting of the inaugural and second cohorts of the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Institute at the National Endowment for the Arts.
Past honorees at the TCG annual gala—now in its fifth year—include Tony®, SAG and Golden Globe Award-winning actor Brian Dennehy; Tony winning director Kenny Leon,  Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage, Ming Cho Lee, Jules Fisher, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation,The Shubert Foundation, Ruth and Stephen Hendel and Judith O. Rubin.
The evening will begin with cocktails at 6:00 followed by dinner and special performances at 7:00. Guests have been asked to wear festive attire.

For more information please contact: 212.609.5931, gala@tcg.org or visit www.tcg.org.

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

Jerrica White

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Award Nominations

Could The Color Purple Be On Its Way to an Emmy Award?

Tristan Halstead

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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.

Bummer.

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Coming Soon

Viola Davis To Star In Film Adaption of Small Great Things

Jazmine Harper-Davis

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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*.

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Is that a new role, Aaron Burr, Sir? Brandon Victor Dixon Joins Power

Jerrica White

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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 AlongTony 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.

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Cicely Tyson To Be Honored At American Theatre Wing 2016 Gala

Jazmine Harper-Davis

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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 gala@thewing.org.

Until then, lets look back at the Broadway Black interview on Opening Night of The Gin Game starring Tyson & Jones

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Heather Headley (Finally!) Gets Her Caricature At Sardi’s

Jazmine Harper-Davis

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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.

 

@heatherheadley makes her Sardi’s debut! @bwaycolorpurple

A photo posted by Polk & Company (@polkpr) on

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 – Memory (Andrew Lloyd Webber – 40 Musical Years)

Heather Headley singing ‘Memory’ from the musical Cats for ‘Andrew Lloyd Webber – 40 Musical Years’ TV Special

 

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