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Holiday Hit “The First Noel” Returns to the Apollo, Beams On Main Stage

Broadway Black

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Last year’s Harlem-based holiday musical The First Noel returns to the famous Apollo, but this year the “21st Century Dickens” shines on the main stage.

The Apollo Theater proudly presents The Classical Theater of Harlem’s production of The First Noel which follows three generations of a Harlem family affected by the tragic loss of a loved one. Time is slow to heal this family’s wounds until an unexpected visit from Grandma reveals some long-absent Christmas joy. This story is about how a community is healed, one family at a time, as everyday people do extraordinary things to help one another receive the gift of love during the holiday season.

After outstanding feedback from the show’s 2015 premiere, which resulted in a sold-out, extended run in the Harlem landmark’s smaller soundstage, The First Noel is making an unprecedented leap to the main theater graced by infinite Black legends.

“The upstairs was our ‘out-of-town’ engagement,” Co-Author Jason Michael Webb laughed.  “This year is the main event!”

First Noel Creatives

l-r Jason Michael Webb, Lelund Durond Thompson, Kamilah Forbes, Ty Jones, Brian Harlan Brooks, and Steve H. Broadnax III

The heartfelt musical features original music and reimagined classic carols – ranging from pop to jazz to gospel.  Running December 10-18, The First Noel features an original book, music and lyrics by Webb and Co-Author Lelund Durond Thompson, Choreography by Brian Harlan Brooks, and Steve H. Broadnax III as Director.

“We didn’t think it would happen so quickly, but coming to the main stage is just size,” Broadnax shared.  “The voices were always huge…the baby just got too big for it’s shoes. It was always designed to be on a main stage.  If you dream it, it will come through.”

Apollo Theater Executive Producer Kamilah Forbes and Classical Theatre of Harlem’s Producing Artistic Director Ty Jones couldn’t be more thrilled about the show’s expansion this holiday season and what that means for both the production and the community.

“This is part of a bigger vision of our involvement in musical theater. The dream of this show is to compliment the holiday season along with all the other great things that you may see downtown.  We want to build the brand of The First Noel.”

Ashley Ware Jenkins, Zariah Singletary

Ashley Ware Jenkins, Zariah Singletary

Cast of The First Noel

Cast of The First Noel

The First Noel features a stunning cast including principals Brian D. Coats, Tina Fabrique, Ashley Ware Jenkins, Donald King Jr, Lizan Mitchell , Ken Robinson, Soara-Joye Ross, with Nia Caesar and Zariah Singletary as Young Noel. The ensemble features James Alexander, Angela Birchett, Jesse Corbin, Darius Crenshaw, Tamara Jade Fingal, Ayana George, Latrisa A. Harper, Adam Hyndman, Sarita Amani Nash, Tiffany Webb, Helen White and in his New York stage debut, Broadway Black’s fearless leader, Drew Shade.

With the “strictly limited run” closing just short of Christmas week, Broadway Black had to ask if there was any word on another extension this year.

Forbes smiled, “There’s always a possibility.”

To learn more or purchase tickets, visit ApolloTheater.Org.

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Limited Engagement

Langston Hughes’ Poem The Black Clown Begins New York Premiere

Drew Shade

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The Black Clown Cast Photo: Maggie Hall

Adapted from the Langston Hughes poem, The Black Clown by Davóne TinesMichael Schachter begins performances today at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival.

Performed by bass-baritone Tines in the title role plus an ensemble of twelve, The Black Clown evolved from a song cycle that Tines and composer Michael Schachter created based on the poem and Hughes’s corresponding stage direction-like corresponding description of “The Mood.” 

Directed by Zack Winokur, with choreography by Chanel DaSilva and musical direction by Jaret LandonThe Black Clown is a music theater experience that draws on vaudeville, gospel, opera, jazz, New Orleans brass band, and spirituals to bring to the stage Langston Hughes’s poem about a Black man’s resilience against a legacy of oppression. 

“When I first read The Black Clown it was like receiving a revelation that gave name to the experience of my existence as a Black man in America that I had never been able to articulate. I identified with this clown whose forced role represents a wholesale relegation of Black existence to something less than human, a farce of a being, a fool only playing at being real. Hughes names this existence then situates it within the larger context of history to show that the oppression of the present is inextricably linked to the failures of the past. Hughes’s clown is able to transcend his oppression by calling on the strength and spirit of his entire ancestry.  He connects to a greater mandate from all of time and the universe that humanity is inexorably his to claim. This was a story I knew I needed to live and relive and share.” says Tines

Wednesday, July 24, 2019 at 7:30 pm

Thursday, July 25, 2019 at 7:30 pm

Friday, July 26, 2019 at 7:30 pm

Saturday, July 27, 2019 at 7:30 pm

Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College

A production of American Repertory Theater at Harvard University

With the kind cooperation of the Estate of Langston Hughes

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Happening Now! A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare in the Park

Broadway Black

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The Public Theater’s Free Shakespeare in the Park continues with the Bard’s classic romantic comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Now through August 8, the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park will be open to the public to enjoy Shakespeare’s classic tale about four lovers who mistake each other for the wrong person after consuming a magical love potion concocted by a meddling forest sprite. With true love, mischief and a talking donkey head-chaos ensues.

Courtesy of The Public Theater

The Public’s second free production of the summer features Phylicia Rashad (Titania), De’Adre Aziza (Hippolyta), Patrena Murray (Snout), Shalita Grant (Hermia) and Kyle Beltran (Lysander); as well as Annaleigh Ashford (Helena); Vinie Burrows (First Fairy, Peaseblossom); Danny Burstein (Nick Bottom); Justin Cunningham (Philostrate); Marcelle Davies-Lashley (Fairy Singer); Austin Durant (Snug); Keith Hart (Third Fairy); Alex Hernandez (Demetrius); Jeff Hiller (Francis Flute); Robert Joy (Peter Quince); Patricia Lewis (Fourth Fairy); David Manis (Egeus, Cobweb); Pamela McPherson-Cornelius (Second Fairy); Kristine Nielsen (Puck); Bhavesh Patel (Theseus); Richard Poe (Oberon); Joe Tapper (Robin Starveling); Judith Wagner (Mote); Warren Wyss (Mustardseed); Benjamin Ye (Changeling Boy). Direction by the Public’s Resident Director and Founder of the Public Works program, Lear deBessonet with choreography by Chase Brock.

Click here for info on how to get your free tickets visit

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