Black performers continue to make their mark on Broadway this week.
Two years after Norm Lewis made history as the first Black actor to don the white mask and perform the iconic, titular role of The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, Jordan Donica made his Broadway debut as the first Black actor to play Raoul, the Vicomte de Chagny, childhood friend-turned-lover of Christine Daae, the young soprano protege of The Phantom, who is played by James Barbour.
Donica succeeded long-time cast member Jeremy Hays and began performances June 13th. This talented 6’4 baritone/tenor has trained at Otterbein University and performed regionally with the Utah Shakespeare Festival.
Here’s a preview of the romantic love duet, “All I Ask Of You,” taken from the 2016 Stars in the Alley performance.
This addition to the cast also comes only two days after Black performers won in all four musical acting categories at the 2016 Tony Awards.
Broadway Black would also like to extend congratulations to Ali Ewoldt, who becomes the first Asian actress — the first actress of color — to play the role of Christine in any mainstream production, Broadway or London.
It’s about damn time.
Imported from London, The Phantom of the Opera is currently the longest running Broadway musical with a Tony-nominated score by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Now let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?
The Phantom of the Opera is currently playing at the Majestic Theatre.
Cynthia Erivo Nominated for BAFTA’s Rising Star Award
Tony, Emmy, and Grammy Award-winning actress, Cynthia Erivo, known for her transformative performance as Celie in the 2015 Broadway revival of The Color Purple is now one of five actors nominated for the British Academy of Film’s 2019 Rising Star Awards.
Most recently seen alongside Viola Davis in Steve McQueen’s Widows, Erivo says:
“I’m ever grateful to BAFTA and the jury panel for nominating me for the 2019 EE Rising Star Award. It means the world to me to be acknowledged by the community that, for most of my life, I’ve known as home. Thank you for this incredible honour.” – Cynthia Erivo
The BAFTA Awards will take place on February 10th.
Get Your War Clothes On: Billy Porter Energizes in GLAAD Acceptance Speech
So, I have a question.
In the same line of thought as “innocent until proven guilty,” do we grant the assumption of positive intent in our expectations of our brothers and sister in regards to woke-ness, à la woke until proven problematic?
Now don’t get me wrong, there was no doubt in my heart that Tony and Grammy Award-winner, Billy Porter, was woke. Nope, none. What I wasn’t ready for, was the way he fixed his fingers to pen one of the greatest acceptance speeches of my lifetime, and how he turned the Gospel classic “I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired” into a battle song.
The 28th Annual GLAAD Media Awards honored Billy Porter with the Vito Russo Award, presented to an openly LGBTQ media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality and acceptance.
He started by affirming the room full of members of marginalized communities, with my personal daily mantra: “You are enough. we are enough.”
Since the beginning of time artists are the folks who engage critically and encourage those who think they are powerless to question the status quo.
Brothers and sisters across the room leaned in.
The days of shut up and sing are over.
Alliteration informed and illustrated as Porter preached on remaining “vigilantly visual” as we tell our stories. Acknowledging the reality of our times, he spoke on Number 45:
Where they slipped up this time is in that declaration of war. It’s not only against Black and Brown people and Queer people anymore, it’s against ALL of us. And as a result, the good news is: white folk, and straight folk, and all those fierce women folk, are mad now. And NOW maybe something might get done!
Get. Your. War. Clothes. On.
From slavery to emancipation, to the 13th Amendment, to Jim Crow, to the Civil Rights Movement. From Stonewall to AIDS, to marriage equality— we gotta remember the shoulders who we stand on—the ones who fought and died for those freedoms that we hold so dear. Let’s use these historical strides we’ve made as a nation to empower us as warriors on this battlefield of equality.
Until we can figure out how to love one another unconditionally, no one wins. Freedom. Equality. Justice. Have always come at a cost and evidently the always will.
If that’s not the truth.
Stay strong. Stay vigilante. Stay visible. Stay hopeful. Stay focused. Be brave. Be fierce.
For a full list of this year’s winners, honorees, and guests, visit GLAAD.
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