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LaChanze Sizzles in Broadway Legacy

Tanya Isley

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LaChanze, best known for her Tony Award-winning role as “Celie” in The Color Purple was recently featured in “Broadway Legacy,” a photographic and “online historical catalogue of art and information, celebrating African American theatre.” Broadway Legacy is the brainchild of actor Christian Dante White and celebrity photographer Brent Dundore.

LaChanze! made her Broadway debut as part of the ensemble in Uptown…It’s Hot! in 1986. She’s also appeared in the musical Once on This Island in 1990 in which she played the role of “Ti Moune.” She received nominations for the Tony Award as Best Featured Actress in a Musical and Drama Desk Award as Outstanding Actress in a Musical. Her other Broadway credits include the 1987 revival of Dreamgirls, Ragtime, and 2014’s If/Then.

As part of her feature on Broadway Legacy, LaChanze also lists her inspirations, “Cicely Tyson for her vulnerability. Alfre Woodard for her honesty. Lola Falana for her confidence. Diana Ross for her business savvy.”

Every other week, Broadway Legacy focuses on a different individual’s accomplishments and inspirations. The series features Broadway veterans such as Chuck Cooper who won a Tony for The Life, Tony nominee Charl Brown, Derrick Baskin, best known for his role of “Comfort Counselor Mitch Mahoney” in the popular Broadway show, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and Ben Harney, who won the 1982 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for his role as “Curtis Taylor, Jr.” Dreamgirls.

White, who made his Broadway debut in the original production of The Scottsboro Boys created Broadway Legacy to feature men who not only are fiercely talented but also inspiring to each other and others. His goal was to not only show appreciation for their remarkable contributions to entertainment but for these men to be recognized in a high fashion setting and to be presented by an outlet that reaches masses so they can be enlightened and educated. White recently added Broadway Legacy 2.0 and LaChanze! is the first woman to be featured in the section.

Check out all the photos and more info on BroadwayLegacy.com

© Brent Dundore Photography - All Rights Reserved.

© Brent Dundore Photography – All Rights Reserved.

Tanya Isley is an award-winning writer, editor, word nerd and grammar snob. A southern girl with metropolitan swag, she was born in soul, raised on R&B but got her life from hip-hop. Tanya's managed news media content strategy for more than 50 websites. Her experience has included stints at The Manna Network, Cox Communications, Cygnus Business Media, and WTVD-TV. Tanya has undergraduate degrees from North Carolina Central University and a graduate degree in interactive journalism from American University.

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Wait, What?! Daveed Diggs To Exit Hamilton

Alicia Samuel

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Tony Award winner and best hair on Broadway, Daveed Diggs will make his final appearance in the smash hit musical Hamilton: An American Musical this Friday, July 15! Diggs won the 2016 Tony for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical for his role as both Marquis De Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson. No official recasting has taken place for the part,  so  understudies Andrew Chappelle, Austin Smith, and Seth Stewart will be stepping up to the plate until then.

Hamilton also announced new casting for the Broadway stage earlier this month; bringing on new leads Brandon Victor Dixon, Lexi Lawson, and Michael Luwoye.

The hit musical won 11 total Tony Awards this year, including best musical, direction of a musical (Thomas Kail), best actor in a musical (Leslie Odom Jr.), best score (Lin-Manuel Miranda), best book of a musical (Lin-Manuel Miranda), best featured actor in a musical (Daveed Diggs), and best featured actress in a musical (Renée Elise Goldsberry).

It also won a record number of technical awards including best orchestrations (Alex Lacamoire), best costume design (Paul Tazewell), best choreography (Andy Blankenbuehler), and best lighting design (Howell Binkley).

You know Broadway Black will keep you posted on these casting changes as they come! We can’t wait to see who’s next!

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Coming Soon

X-Factor’s Leona Lewis Will Prowl Broadway in Cats

Tristan Halstead

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After days of speculation, Cats has finally found its glamour cat Grizabella in Leona Lewis, the season 3 winner of “The X-Factor” in the UK, as confirmed by The Shubert Organization and The Nederlander Organization. This will mark her Broadway debut.

Hailing from Britain, Lewis has won one Bambi Award, an MTV Video Music Award, and three World Music Awards, and has sold over 20-million records worldwide. She’s also a three-time Grammy Award and seven-time BRIT Award nominee. In 2014, she appeared in the jukebox musical film “Walking on Sunshine.”

Based on T.S. Elliot’s “Book of Practical Cats,” through song, dance, and poetry, Andrew Lloyd Weber’s musical, which once held the record for the longest-running musical on Broadway, follows a tribe of felines at their annual Jellicle Ball, where one cat is chosen to be reborn into a new life in the Heaviside Layer.

Quentin Earl Darrington joins Lewis & will return to Broadway as the lovable, wise patriarch Old Deuteronomy, the role originated on Broadway by Ken Page. Darrington made his Broadway debut as the tragic piano player Coalhouse Walker, Jr., in the 2009 production of Ragtime, coincidentally at the Neil Simon Theatre, where Cats will begin previews on July 14th, before opening on July 31st.

This will mark the first time the Tony-winning musical has been revived on Broadway after a two-year run at the London Palladium, which saw Beverly Knight and Nicole Scherzinger in the iconic role of the faded glamour cat who longs for acceptance back into the tribe.

Joining Lewis and Darrington will be Shonica Gooden (Rumpleteazer), Ahmad Simmons (Alonzo) Sharrod Williams (Pouncival), Giuseppe Bausilio (Carbucketty), Jeremy Davis (Skimbleshanks), Kim Faure (Demeter), Sara Jean Ford (Jellylorum), Lili Froehlich (Electra), Daniel Gaymon (Macavity), Christopher Gurr (Gus/Bustopher Jones), Tyler Hanes (Rum Tum Tugger), Andy Huntington Jones (Munkustrap), Kolton Krouse (Tumblebrutus), Eloise Kropp (Jennyanydots / Gumbie), Jess LeProtto (Mungojerrie), Georgina Pazcoguin (Victoria), Emily Pynenburg (Cassandra), Arianna Rosario (Sillabub), Christine Cornish Smith (Bombalurina), Corey Snide (Coricopat), Emily Tate (Tantomile), and Ricky Ubeda (Mistoffelees) with Richard Todd Adams, Aaron Albano, Callan Bergmann, Claire Camp, Francesca Granell, Jessica Hendy, Harris Milgrim, Madison Mitchell, Nathan Patrick Morgan and Megan Ort.

For tickets, visit Cats on Broadway.

 

 

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A Must See

Alan Mingo, Jr. Struts in Kinky Boots!

Nicole

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Wayne Brady sashays away into the sunset after a successful run on Broadway as ‘Lola’ in the Tony award winning Kinky Boots. The hit musical produced by Daryl Roth and Hal Luftig has pegged Alan Mingo, Jr. to take over the role beginning March 29, 2016.

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Mingo is no stranger to the role of Lola as he has been playing this role in the Toronto production to rave reviews.

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Mingo’s  previous Broadway credits include “Sebastian” in Disney’s The Little Mermaid (Original Broadway cast member) and “Tom Collins” in Rent.  While Mingo is excited to join the new cast on Broadway, leaving the Toronto cast wasn’t easy.

Alan Mingo Jr on Twitter

Today is my final performance with #kinkybootsto. It has truly been an honour working alongside this amazing cast and crew. #bittersweet

Inspired by true events, Kinky Boots tells the story of Charlie Price, who inherits his father’s shoe factory. Looking to save the family business, Charlie turns to a fabulously fashionable new friend – cabaret star Lola – who gives him an outrageous idea that could change both their destinies.

We are sure that Mingo will continue to excel in the role of ‘Lola’ for Broadway audiences. You can catch Kinky Boots at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre in New York at let us know what you think of Mingo’s performance. Tickets are available online here.  Be sure to tweet us your comments @broadwayblack !

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Hughie, Starring Forest Whitaker To Close March 27

Jazmine Harper-Davis

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Hughie, a 55-minute Eugene O’Neill one-act play starring Forest Whitaker in his Broadway debut, is set to close early because of low ticket sales.

The revival, which just opened a few weeks ago on Feb. 25, will close on March 27, after a total of 55 performances, including previews. It had originally been scheduled to run through June 12.

Despite getting generally good reviews in major print publications and all the star power behind the show, it was ultimately the ticket sales that caused the show to close. The producers, who had raised $3 million to mount the show, issued a statement Thursday evening saying they were closing the show “due to limited advance ticket sales.”

In Hughie, which takes place  in the lobby of a crummy New York City hotel in the late 1920s, Whitaker plays “Erie Smith,” a small-town hustler whose luck has gone bad after the death of his friend and former hotel clerk, Hughie.

If you haven’t made your way to the Booth Theatre, there are only 3 more weeks left to check out the show, you can get tickets here.

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Events and Happenings

New Musical Josephine Starring Deborah Cox Approaches World Premiere in Florida

Jazmine Harper-Davis

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Around this time last year news that a new musical was going to play at Asolo Repertory Theatre in Florida, with hopes the show would then be Broadway Bound. The time has finally come and Asolo Repertory Theatre will present the world premiere of the new musical Josephine beginning April 27, with an official opening May 6.

The musical stars Deborah Cox (Aida) with a book by Ellen Weston and Mark Hampton, music by Stephen Dorff, lyrics by John Bettis, based on a story by Kenneth Waissman, and directed and choreographed by Joey McKneely.

The musical is described on the Asolo Rep Theatre website as;

Romance, intrigue and plenty of excitement will fill the stage next spring when Asolo Rep presents the world-premiere of Josephine, the original new musical bound for Broadway following its Sarasota run. The entrancing Josephine Baker was beautiful, ambitious, and the toast of Europe at the height of her fame in the 1920s-30s. Born into poverty in St. Louis, she rose to become an icon of the Jazz Age, captivating Paris audiences as a dancer, singer, actress and the twentieth-century’s first international black female sex symbol. Directed and choreographed by Tony nominated Joey McKneely and starring Grammy-nominated, platinum-selling recording artist Deborah Cox, this dazzling new musical revolves around Baker’s stint as the star of the Folies-Bergere in Paris from 1939-45, her scandalous affair with Swedish Crown Prince Gustav IV, and her service in the French Resistance during World War II.

The show will run from April 27 until May 29 at Asolo Rep Theatre’s Mertz Theatre (5555 N. Tamiami Tr.  Sarasota, FL  34243). Tickets are now available for purchase here.

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Celebrity Takeover

Forest Whitaker’s Hughie Pushes Back Start of Previews

Tanya Isley

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If you are one of the many people who’ve been eagerly anticipating the Broadway debut of Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker in the revival of Eugene O’Neill’s Hughie, you’ll have to wait just a couple of days longer. The production was originally slated to begin previews on February 5; previews will now begin on February 8. Despite, the slight delay, opening is still scheduled for February 25 at the Booth Theatre.

Whitaker will star alongside stage veteran and Tony Award winner Frank Wood in the short two-character play set in the lobby of a small hotel on a West Side street in midtown New York during the summer of 1928. The play is what’s known as a two-hander — essentially a monologue — about the recently deceased night clerk of a grim hotel on Manhattan’s West Side who’s still mourned by “Erie Smith,” a drunk hustler keen on impressing Hughie’s replacement, “Charlie Hughes,” with reminiscences of past hijinks and adventures.

Whitaker will star as “Erie Smith and Wood will take on the role of “Charlie Hughes.” Tony winner Michael Grandage will direct the play.

Whitaker has built an impressive resume in films such as “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” “Bird,” and “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai.” In 2007, he won an Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for his performance as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in 2006’s “The Last King of Scotland.” He also is a noted director who helmed the iconic girlfriend film “Waiting To Exhale” starring Whitney Houston, Loretta Devine, and Angela Bassett.

Wood won a Tony Award in 1999 for Best Featured Actor in a Play for Side Man. He also played “Bill” in the Broadway production of August: Osage County.

Hughie was last seen on Broadway in 1996 at the Circle in the Square Theatre in a production directed by and starring Al Pacino.

For more information about Hughie and to purchase tickets, visit here.

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