There was so much anticipation and speculation of who will portray the young Dorothy in The Wiz Live set to air on NBC Dec 3rd. Many have voiced their wishes and hopes for their favorite actors & artists to be cast in the role. Janelle Monae, Amber Riley, & Brandy Norwood have been among the consistent names brought up. However, a new comer has come along to save the day.
Well, it looks like young vocal powerhouse Shanice Williamsan, an 18-year-old newcomer from New Jersey, will take on the role of Dorothy. Her voice sounds PERFECT! She’s got the look, the youth, the adorable & vunerability factor. We couldn’t have asked for a better choice! This is everything we asked for. Thank you to Kenny Leon & the entire creative team. Williams’ casting was announced on “The Today Show” Aug. 5. an 18-year-old newcomer from New Jersey.
Williams was selected from hundreds of young aspirants who auditioned across the U.S. She has five years of musical training that also includes extensive dance and piano. Williams has co-starred in several local productions, including West Side Story; You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown; 42nd Street; Seussical and Pippin. In 2014 Williams was nominated for best leading actress in a musical at the Paper Mill Playhouse’s annual Rising Star Awards.
Williams will join Tony nominee David Alan Grier who will take on the role of “The Cowardly Lion”, as well as join the Academy Award nominee Queen Latifah & Grammy Award winner Mary J. Blige in the cast of The Wiz Live, set to air on NBC Dec. 3rd. Latifah will play “The Wiz”, a role originated on stage by the incomparable Andre De Shields (Ain’t Misbehavin’, The Full Monty). Blige will portray the role of “Evillene”, the horrible wicked witch known for the upbeat “Don’t Nobody Bring Me No Bad News.” In addition to Stephanie Mills as “Aunt Em”, who was also previously announced.
Tony Award winner Kenny Leon will direct & Fatima Robinson will choreograph, as previously announced. The show will also head to Broadway in 2016 with Leon directing. The Wiz for NBC will partner with Cirque du Soleil to bring the live and Broadway productions to life. The original book of the show was written by William F. Brown. This time around, Broadway legend Harvey Fierstein will add new material to the book.
Universal Television will produce. Casting for both the NBC telecast and Cirque du Soleil‘s Broadway production will be announced at a later date.
Also check out Broadway World’s exclusive interview with the new starlet and hear her sing a snippet of “Home” from The Wiz!
EXCLUSIVE: Broadway Black Behind The Scenes Dreamgirls 35th Anniversary Concert
It’s been 35 years since The Dreamette’s “moved” their way into our hearts, and if you had the childhood I had, your home stereos. Which is why Broadway Black was more than thrilled to learn about the Dreamgirls 35th anniversary concert that would reunite its original stars Sheryl Lee Ralph, Loretta Devine, and Jennifer Holliday. I mean thrilled, to the point I was trying to figure out how to not pay bills thrilled. On July 10th, the ladies performed at their one night only (Ha!), sold-out show in Hollywood, and they were even joined by some of our other favorite performers Frenchie Davis and Mary Wilson!
A night that was sure to be one for the books, it’s a shame that everyone in the world wasn’t able to witness it. However, this is Broadway Black and in true Broadway Black fashion our readers should know by now, WE GOT YOU. Check out an EXCLUSIVE behind the scenes look of the Dreamgirls 35th Anniversary Concert below, brought to you ONLY by Broadway Black.
If you still can’t get enough of Dreamgirls, remember it’s coming to London this fall (and hopefully Broadway after that!).
Dreamgirls London Starring Amber Riley Finds It’s Dream Cast
As previously reported, Amber Riley will be taking to the stage on The West End as Effie in Dreamgirls. It will be the first time that a full production has been mounted on a major London stage. It comes 35 years after the original 1981 production opened on Broadway starring The Dreamgirls we all know and cherish today, Jennifer Holiday, Sheryl Lee Ralph, & Loretta Devine.
We have been patiently waiting for the entire cast to be revealed and it’s finally here. Giving the exclusives on everything @DreamgirlsLDN via twitter is Baz Bamigboye, Daily Mail entertainment columnist, and boy, oh, boy does he spill all the beans we need.
Playing the roles of Deena & Lorrell alongside Riley’s Effie are Liisi LaFontaine and Ibinabo Jack, respectively.
— Baz Bamigboye (@BazBam) June 2, 2016
He didn’t stop there. Bamigboye also revealed that Curtis Taylor Jr. will be played by Joe Aaron Reid, James “Thunder” Early aka Jimmy will be played by Adam J Bernard, and C.C. White will be played by Tyrone Huntley.
— Baz Bamigboye (@BazBam) June 2, 2016
— Baz Bamigboye (@BazBam) June 2, 2016
And the cherry on top of it all came when it was announced that the original composer of Dreamgirls, Henry Krieger is working on a new song for the opening of Act II. He also wrote “Listen” for the Dreamgirls movie, made famous by Beyonce. “Listen” was also turned into a duet between Deena Jones and Effie White for the most recent national tour of Dreamgirls in 2009. We wonder what Krieger will cook up this time. We’ll make sure to keep you in the loop when we find out.
Click HERE for more information on tickets and show dates
And we are telling you… tickets are now ON SALE for #DreamgirlsLDN https://t.co/OTzHbTMVNf pic.twitter.com/iZtnzrg4wR
— Dreamgirls West End (@DreamgirlsLDN) April 1, 2016
Forest Whitaker’s Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative #Performers4Peace Benefit Concert
I had the opportunity to be in the room where it happens and see a sneak peak into the Performers4Peace Benefit Concert rehearsal.
Let me fill you in.
Carly Hughes and Marcus Paul James sang the Michiko studios down. Hamilton’s, Alysha Deslorieux, stopped by and left with my edges.
And that was only two performances.
Hosted by Academy Award winner & recent star of Hughie on Broadway, Forest Whitaker, this will be a night to remember. Tony Award winner James Monroe Iglehart will emcee the concert with Sirius XM’s Julie James The evening will be directed by Olivier Award nominee Stafford Arima (Allegiance, The Secret Garden in Concert, Ragtime [West End], Carrie, Altar Boyz), and have performances by many Broadway Black favorites including:
Tony Award winner James Monroe Iglehart (Aladdin, Memphis, Spelling Bee)
Patrice Covington (The Color Purple)
Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews (co-author’s of Invisible Thread recently at Second Stage)
Mykal Kilgore (“The Wiz Live,” Motown, Book of Mormon)
Bryan Terrell Clark (“Person of Interest,” Motown)
Alysha Deslorieux (Hamilton, Beautiful, Sister Act)
Marcus Paul James (Rent, In the Heights, Motown)
Carly Hughes (Chicago, Pippin, Book of Mormon)
Drama Desk Award winner Derrick Baskin (“Difficult People,” Memphis, Spelling Bee)
Tony Award nominee Daniel Breaker (“Mozart in the Jungle,” Book of Mormon, Passing Strange)
Master Bucket Drummer ChoclattJared (featured percussion for Bring in Da Noise Bring in Da Funk, Lauryn Hill, Aretha Franklin, Beyoncé, & more)
Come in your cocktail attire, ready to hear songs of peace made popular by the likes of Stevie Wonder, Sam Cooke, Whitney Houston, Bob Marley, Barbra Streisand & more in this one-night-only concert!
I can say without a doubt that 42West is the place to be on Monday, May 9, 2016.
Perhaps the best part of it all, is that this is for a good cause that was founded by such a humble and selfless member of our Broadway Black community, Forest Whitaker (Hughie,The Last King of Scotland, The Butler, Bird). The proceeds from Performers4Peace benefit concert will support Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative’s work to build peace in war-torn countries.
Okay!? You get it. This is a one-night performance that you MUST see!
The show starts at 8pm at 42West (514 West 42nd Street www.42west.com). Broadway Black will be doing our part to support peace and community building. Will you?
For tickets click HERE.
Performers4Peace is produced by Untitled Theatricals (An American in Paris, Hughie, Dames at Sea) in association with Langfelder Presents. The concert will be music directed by Juilliard alumnaAnnastasia Victory (Little Dancer, Leap of Faith, 3 Mo’ Divas), and the band will be comprised of musicians from various Broadway shows (The Lion King, Les Miserables, An American in Paris and The Color Purple, among others). The concert is orchestrated by Academy Award nominee & 6-time Emmy Award winner Chris Boardman; Grammy, Emmy & Drama Desk Award nominee Joseph Joubert; Andrew Beall & Annastasia Victory.
More about Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative:
Founded in 2012 by Academy Award, Golden Globe Award & BAFTA winner and UNESCO Special Envoy for Peace & Reconciliation, Forest Whitaker, WPDI’s mission is to help societies impacted by destructive conflicts transform into safer and more prosperous communities. They work to empower and inspire youth, women and global citizens to promote peace across the planet. WPDI currently has projects in South Sudan, Uganda, Mexico and The United States. For more information, please visit: www.wpdi.org
Jennifer Hudson Will Star in Hairspray Live on NBC!
The casting for the new #HairsprayLive is rolling out and the role we were most curious about was that of “Motormouth Maybelle. Well, we’ve gotten the word and the current Broadway star of The Color Purple, Jennifer Hudson will follow in the footsteps of Queen Latifah as the rhyming & jivin’ Motormouth set to air December 7th at 8pm.
We’re loving that Hudson is living the full dream in great musicals. From her Oscar-winning performance in “Dreamgirls”, to starring on Broadway as “Shug Avery”, and now this? We’re extremely happy to see what she does in the role. She is suited for television and what’s better than a televised musical for someone of her caliber? Nothing.
She is joined by Harvey Fierstein who will reprise his Tony Award-winning role as “EdnaTurnblade”, he is also writing the teleplay, as he did for #TheWizLive.
Based on the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, “Hairspray Live!” takes place in 1962 Baltimore. Teenager Tracy Turnblad’s dream is to dance on “The Corny Collins Show,” a local TV program. When, against all odds, Tracy wins a role on the show, she becomes a celebrity overnight and meets a colorful array of characters, including the resident dreamboat, Link; the ambitious mean girl, Amber; an African-American boy she meets in detention, Seaweed; and his mother, Motormouth Maybelle, the owner of a local record store. Tracy’s mother is the indomitable Edna Turnblad, and she eventually encourages Tracy on her campaign to integrate the all-white “Corny Collins Show.”
Joining the creative team will be acclaimed television director Alex Rudzinski, who slayed the television direction of “Grease Live!” He will accompany and partner with stage director Kenny Leon. This is all getting very intersting.
“Hairspray Live!” reunites Hudson with executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who worked with her previously on NBC’s “Smash.”
Head of Passes Starring Phylicia Rashad Extends + Win Two Tickets
The Broadway Black approved production of Head of Passes by Tarell Alvin McCraney has officially been extended and rightfully so. It will now play until April 24th at the Public Theater. Tony Award winner Phylicia Rashad leads the cast as Shelah, a woman who “must fight to survive the rising flood of life’s great challenges” as her family and friends come to celebrate her birthday.
Completing the cast and telling this moving story is Alana Arenas (The Bluest Eye) as “Cookie”, Francois Battiste (Bronx Bombers) as “Aubrey”, Kyle Beltran (The Fortress of Solitude) as “Crier”, J. Bernard Calloway (All the Way) as Spencer, Robert Joy as “Dr. Anderson”, John Earl Jelks (Holler If Ya Hear Me) as “Creaker Johnson”, and Arnetia Walker (Dreamgirls) as “Mae”.
It’s also time for a giveaway and this is a really special one for us! The return of “Mutha”, aka Phylicia Rashad, to an Off-Broadway stage is nothing to be taken lightly. She is currently serving the people all kinds of master class skills in the production of Head of Passes at The Public Theater. You can’t NOT see this show so, we want to give you the opportunity to do so.
If you don’t know why we’re so adamant about making sure you see it, read about our experience in our #WeWereThere article HERE. After you’ve finished that and you’re clearly sold on the experience, follow the rules below to qualify to win a pair of tickets to the April 22nd performance. There will be more than one winner and each winner will receive a pair of tickets to that show ONLY. If you can’t make it on that date you can still purchase tickets HERE.
How to WIN!:
2. Like our Broadway Black Facebook page HERE!
3. Comment below & tell us: What has been your greatest challenge in life & why?!
Must enter before Wed April 20th at 5pm! Winners will be announced on that same day at 7pm!
Check out Head of Passes production photos by Joan Marcus below!
Giveaway made possible by our friends at PPLMVR! Thank you!
Lupita Nyong’o Wins April Fool’s Day With Prank On Eclipsed Broadway Cast
I am still crying tears of laughter as I write this. You have to watch this new video of Lupita Nyong’o, currently starring on Broadway in Eclipsed, as she pranks her castmates. I would never have guessed that she was this funny! It takes a special kind of person to be able to pull off an unexpected April Fool’s prank and Lupita proves once again just how special she really is. This is HE-LARRY-US! Watch the entire video we found posted to her Facebook below as she allows each cast member (and a stage manager) try her specially made truffles. You’ll never guess what’s inside. HAHAHAHAHAHA!
You win April Fool’s Day, Lupita! Thank you for this!
Lupita Nyong’o, Saycon Sengbloh, Pascale Armand, Akosua Busia, and Zainab Jah play the roles written by playwright and actress Danai Gurira. Zombiephiles may know Gurira from her groundbreaking role as the sword-wielding Michonne on AMC’s “The Walking Dead” series.
The play, set in 2003 near the end of the civil war in Liberia, is about the survival and resilience of a group of women who are captives of rebels fighting the government. Nyong’o, who made her Academy Award-winning screen debut in “12 Years a Slave,” stars in the role of “Girl,” the youngest of four captive wives of a rebel commander.
Eclipsed seeks to promote empowerment through telling the true story of African women in the midst of struggle— the Liberian civil war. Experience the power of women exposed. Experience the joy within a struggle. Experience the reality that war is real and desperately needs to be stopped. Experience the power of women. Get your tickets now HERE
About Broadway Black:
BroadwayBlack.com is dedicated to highlighting the achievements and successes of African-American theatre artists on and off the Broadway stage. For so long, our voices have been skimmed over inside and outside of The Great White Way. However, we know we have experiences to share that are essential. BroadwayBlack.com serves as a collective of things we all care for. It is a platform for all things Black theatre. Created for the child in all of us who looked up to the stage searching for the faces that looked like ours. Celebrating the dedication of those who hand over their life to give all they have to the stage, shining light on those that continue our journey, & paying tribute to those who blazed the way for our story to be told, seen, and heard on The Great Way.
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