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!”
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.”
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.
Happening Now! A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare in the Park
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.
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
3 Shows You’ll Want To See At The New York Musical Festival
For a one month period every summer, The Theatre District in NYC welcomes aspiring and up-and-coming playwrights, composers, directors and performers to the New York Musical Festival. This year, from July 10 to August 6, theatre artists from around the world will gather to introduce new projects to the community, with the hope of someday producing a full length musical and/or concert, ultimately transferring their show to Broadway.
In years past, shows such as In Transit (NYMF ’04) and Next to Normal (NYMF ’05 as Feeling Electric) made their public debut at NYMF before making their way to Broadway. This year’s festival includes 20 full length productions, 14 concerts and beta musicals, and 10 developmental readings in addition to educational workshops and panels hosted by the Honest Accomplice Theater. This years honorary chair is none other than 6 time Tony Award winner, and Broadway Black legend, Audra McDonald.
Here are Broadway Black’s top 3 must-sees if you plan on attending this year’s festival:
1.Freedom Riders: The Civil Rights Musical (Full Length Production)
Freedom Riders: The Civil Rights Musical: We have Civil Rights era musicals (The Wiz, Raisin, Purlie, to name a few), but do we have an actual Civil Rights musical- or at least one about the Freedom Riders?
Set in the Jim Crow South, Freedom Riders follows the story of the real-life Civil Rights activists Diane Nash, John Seigenthaler, John Lewis, and the Congress of Racial Equality’s original 13 riders who from May 1961 to December 1961, led the nonviolent protest to desegregate public interstate buses. Book, music and lyrics by Richard Allen and Taren Gray.
Performance Dates: August 1st through August 5th, 2017
Location: The Acorn Theatre at Theatre Row
Individual tickets for $27.50
2. #BlackGirlJoy: Star Johnson in Concert (Concerts and Beta Musicals)
#BlackGirlMagic just got a little more magical!
DC-based singer, songwriter and composer, Star Johnson’s #BlackGirlJoy is a musical revue featuring songs from her shows How to Quit Your Day Job, Flattops, F Words and others. Go for the mix of “Stephen Sondheim and Lauryn Hill” stay for the #BlackGirlMagic.
Performance dates: July 27-29
Location: The Green Room 42 @ Yotel
Individual tickets: $27.50
3. FORA (Developmental Reading)
FORA: How often do we get to enjoy the West-Indian/Afro-Caribbean diaspora on stage?
This developmental reading of FORA follows the story of Gigi, a 17 year old native of the fictional island of Forafu. While her homeland is experiencing unsettling changes because of a Great Migration, Gigi “discovers the true meaning of love in all its forms.” Book and Lyrics by Jae Antoinette Broderick; Music by & Jae Antoinette Broderick and Matthew A.C. Cohen
Performance dates: July 18 and 22
Location: Playwrights Horizons Rehearsal Studio
Individual tickets: Available with festival pass
For more information on productions, events and festival passes visit http://www.nymf.org/.
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