We’ve been on the sidelines cheering for the #blackgirlmagic that is Amber Riley for some time now. After previously reporting that she’s headlining the Sonia Friedman production of Dreamgirls at Savoy Theatre, well, we got our lives in order– located our passports, gathered our friends, and gathered our coins.
Well chile, the time has come! Book your tickets to London, because we’ll be sashaying our way through The West End for opening night on December 14, 2016.
We got a glimpse of the #WERK that will be Amber Riley as “Effie White,” back in her Glee days. Her outstanding performance as The Wiz Live! proved, she’s back and she’s better, and ready to slay. We couldn’t be more excited to see this star become a leading lady, in one of our favorite shows of all time.
Dreamgirls, which features music by Henry Krieger and a book and lyrics by Tom Eyen, tells the story of a singing trio of black divas, “The Dreams,” and their rise to stardom in the 60’s. The trio is eventually torn apart by another predictable trio of fame, fortune, and men. The cast starred Sheryl Lee Ralph as “Deena Jones,” Jennifer Holliday as “Effie White,” Loretta Devine as “Lorrell Robinson,” Ben Harney as “Curtis Taylor, Jr.,” Cleavant Derricks as “James “Thunder” Early,” and Obba Babatundé as “C. C. White.”
Dreamgirls will be directed and choreographed by Casey Nickolaw (The Book of Mormon, Aladdin) and previews begin November 19, 2016. The original Broadway production opened on December 20, 1981, marking this year as the 35thAnniversary of the musical. We’ll be tuned in for updates on casting. Check out the website for the London production HERE.
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.