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Joaquina Kalukango Joins The Wild Party

Broadway Black

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Due to scheduling conflicts that resulted in replacement casting, Joaquina Kalukango (Holler If Ya Hear Me, Godspell) has recently been added to the cast of Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party at New York City Center. She has replaced Ciara Renee (Pippin, Big Fish) and will play the role of Kate. The production stars Tony-nominated Brandon Victor Dixon (Color Purple, Motown) and others.

From Andrew Lippa’s website:Joaquina-Kalukango-HS-1_web

Adapted from a book-length poem written in and about the Roaring Twenties, The Wild Party tells the story of one wild evening in the Manhattan apartment shared by Queenie and Burrs, a vaudeville dancer and a vaudeville clown. In a relationship marked by vicious behavior and recklessness (mirroring the time in which they live), they decide to throw a party to end all parties. As the guests arrive, we meet an assortment of people living on the edge. Queenie and Burrs set out to make each other jealous, but Queenie begins to fall in love with her conquest named Mr. Black. After a long night of decadence, Burrs’ jealousy erupts and he comes to a violent end at Mr. Black’s hand. In the stark light of a new day, Queenie moves out into a brighter world, although not necessarily a brighter future, leaving the passed-out revelers in her wake.

NYTimes.com featured Joaquina Kalukango in their “In Performance” series as Kalukango gives a deft and skillful performance of  a piece from Eve Ensler‘s Emotional Creatures. New York City Center’s Encores! Off-Center series will produce The Wild Party, currently in rehearsals, as the final production of its 2015 season. The production will run July 15-18 on the City Center Mainstage. For tickets and more information, visit www.nycitycenter.org

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Awards Nominees & Winners

Collecting Our Things: Black Excellence Dominates the 2017 Oscars

Broadway Black

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If you weren’t lucky enough to get snuck in through the side door at the 89th Academy Awards Ceremony, I’ll give you the Broadway Black rundown. With Moonlight taking the big Oscar of the night, it seems The Academy heard us loud and clear when we demanded they give us our things, and I’m glad.

Watch highlight videos below! #TourBusGary, Viola, Mahershala, & Moonlights acceptances speeches, and more!

Although I do have some complaints I’d like to file regarding Ms. Taraji P. Henson and Mr. Denzel Washington, but that’s for another time.

The night began with Mahershala Ali winning Best Supporting Actor for his role as Juan in Moonlight. Mahershala celebrated many firsts on Oscar night: his first nomination and his first win. While many laud Ali for being the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar, his acceptance speech focused on his mentors, education, and his new baby girl.

“I want to thank my teachers, my professors. I had so many wonderful teachers, and one of the things they told me was…it’s not about you, it’s about these characters. You’re in service to these stories and these characters.”

 (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Image: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times

Moonlight celebrated Mahershala’s win and later took home Best Picture (after a perplexing mix-up with La La Land – see blow) and Best Adapted Screenplay. The creators and cast of Moonlight echoed Mahershala’s message of representation. In their acceptance speech for Best Adapted Screenplay, Tarell Alvin McCraney and Barry Jenkins pledged to defend those who don’t fit the mold:

“All you people out there, who feel like there’s no mirror for you or your life is not reflected. We have your back and for the next four years, we will not leave you alone. We will not forget you.”

Image: Kevin Winter/Getty

Jenkins’ words echoed the community and perseverance that Moonlight celebrates. His victory for his second feature film alone is a testament to the spirit of perseverance. His first feature film, the highly acclaimed Medicine for Melancholy, premiered in 2008. Jenkins speaks openly of the discouragement he felt in this eight-year gap, where, at times, he thought his career was at an end. But just like Jenkins couldn’t dodge that Best Picture Oscar, he couldn’t dodge his calling, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

Another highlight in that same speech came from McCraney, who is the playwright of In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue of which the film is based. He said:

“This goes out to all those black and brown boys and girls and non-gender-conforming who don’t see themselves, we’re trying to show you you and us. Thank you, thank you. This is for you.”

Further celebrating a night of untold stories, NASA’s Katherine Johnson joined the Hidden Figures cast on stage. With the grace of a thousand Dianas, Viola Davis accepted the award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Rose in Fences. Her performance, which earned her a Tony for Best Actress in 2010, resonated with women and defined resilience to men.

We know Viola from Broadway and How to Get Away With Murder, but tonight she made history as the first Black actor to take home an Emmy, Tony, and Oscar for acting. Her role in Fences gives glory to the ordinary, and her speech showed her pride in that fact.

Now, about that Best Picture Oscar. Still can’t believe this actually happened. There are no words to describe what the conflicting feelings of confusion & joy bottled and shaken up, on the brink of explosion, actually feels like but here it is in video form:

As I cheered along, I thought of the power of ordinariness in Black communities. The legacy of Blackness exudes strength and resilience, but we should remember that excellence isn’t isolated to any tax bracket.

Audiences found power in Viola Davis’ Rose because August Wilson did not see powerful and ordinary as mutually exclusive. It is vital, especially today, that the Fences and Hidden Figures and Moonlights empower us.

These films tell the story of those perceived as ordinary, simply because the people looking had a singular point of view. So, yes, tonight was for Viola and her staple in history, for Mahershala and Moonlight collecting their things, and even for Denzel and Ruth Negga, no matter what The Academy says.

But even more, tonight was for the ordinary people who are, in fact, excellent and Broadway Black.

View the full list of winners at Oscar.

& the funniest moment of the night that we just can’t seem to get over. Watch #TourBusGary become a meme right in front of your eyes:

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Awards Nominees & Winners

Danielle Brooks visits Jimmy Kimmel Live

Broadway Black

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When you see an image of Danielle Brooks on your feed, steaming her own skirt, in a flirty,  transparent blouse, pointed-toe, bubblegum colored pumps, with a caption that reads, “I’ll be steamin’ hot on Jimmy Kimmel Live,” it’s a good day! Danielle’s appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live aired on the night of June 30, on ABC. She demonstrated the scene when she embraced “Mama O” (Oprah), and shared stories about filming the Netflix series, Orange is the New Black, while performing nightly as “Sofia” in the Tony Award-winning show, The Color Purple.

It’s Danielle‘s superwoman cape, of course, that allows her to transport from Broadway to LA to Litchfield and back! One minute she’s on the East Coast roaring, “You told Harpo to beat me,” and the next she’s on the West Coast telling Jimmy Kimmel about a terrifying train ride with hysterical OITNB fans.
Orange is the New Black, where she plays “Tasha ‘Taystee’ Jefferson,” evinces season four’s monumental launch into raising awareness about several social justice issues, including the highly extremely relevant movement of Black Lives Matter.
Danielle has dedicated her life to performing in projects with meaning and purpose, and here at Broadway Black, we couldn’t be more proud. In fact, when she detailed (on JKL) the story of her proud parents capturing a selfie with Oprah on Tony night– thanks to Danielle’s talent and commitment–I wondered how many (non-Blacks) would even know about certain issues in the Black community without Broadway Black stars  like her.
She is everywhere making a difference.
I turn on Netflix, boom, she’s there, giving a stellar performance as a fed up inmate fighting for justice. I ride the NY  train and see her in a sassy soldier uniform, on the cover of someone’s Ebony magazine. Or plastered on an ad in her burnt orange jumper.
In the same manner, I hit the TV switch, and Danielle is on my screen, in a late show interview. Or securing the streets in an animation film. I shop in the mall and see her as the face of an exclusive Lane Bryant collection.
I catch the morning ABC news… and she’s there.
Wait! Do I sound like I’m fangirling?
Well, it’s kind of hard not to when Danielle’s respective performances and platforms represent everything that you stand for. She is an advocate for the thick girls, and opens conversations about being confident in your skin/body. She is onstage showcasing strong womanhood and Black unity, and on screen uncovering absurdities in corrupt systems, revealing racial injustice.
I’ve said before that she has the power inside to evoke change in this country. Consequently, on JKL, the largest topic was Oprah and Danielle’s relationship because they are like-minded. I would stay tuned for more groundbreaking news with Danielle Brooks as the headline if I were you.
Check out a final clip of Danielle Brooks on Jimmy Kimmel Live below.

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