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Pride Lands & Chill: The Lion King Will Be The First Musical To Ever Play Antarctica

Andrew Shade

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The Lion King is set to go where no show has ever gone before. One of Broadway’s longest-running musicals has played on every continent except one but soon that will change. Disney takes on their biggest challenge yet, opening on April 1st 2019, in a 2000 seat ice theatre.

Find out more about the history-making production! Watch until the end!

 

HAPPY APRIL FOOL’S DAY!

FROM BROADWAY BLACK & THE ENTIRE THEATRE COMMUNITY! 

 

Founder/Editor-In-Chief of BroadwayBlack.com | Actor | Artist | 1/3 of @OffBookPodcast | Theatre connoisseur | All Audra Everything | Caroline over Change | I'm Not Charl Brown | Norm Lewis is my play cousin | Producing an all-black production of Mame starring Jenifer Lewis in my head

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A Must See

Will Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Apparate to Broadway?

Tristan Halstead

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Harry Potter fans rejoice, as the eight installment in the thrilling children’s series has finally opened on the West End at the Palace Theatre to rave reviews. Based on a story by creator J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child takes place nineteen years after Deathly Hollows ended. The two-part play is written by Jack Thorne, with direction by John Tiffany.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

Jamie Parker (Harry Potter), Norma Dumezweni (Hermione Granger), and Paul Thornley (Ron Weasley) lead a company of 42.

The production released a block of 250,000 tickets on August 4th for the second half of 2017, which have all already sold out.

Now the question remains: will U.S. fans get to see their favorite wizarding hero take the Broadway stage? Producers have all but confirmed that the show will transfer some time as early as 2017, possibly in a Shubert house yet to be announced. Personally, I think they should take the massive 1860+ Lyric Theatre, currently the home of Cirque du Soleil Paramour.

Not that I hold a bias or anything.

But I’ve also started reading the text, which has just been released in stores, and while it’s great, it just isn’t the same as seeing the magic of Tiffany’s direction with your own eyes. Tiffany is one of my all time theatrical directors, having seen Once, Let the Right One In, and The Glass Menagerie. That combined with Steven Hoggett’s movement and choreography, with music by Imogen Heap — I weep in awe just thinking about it.

Last fall, the production faced some backlash when Olivier winner Dumezweni joined the cast as Hermione Granger, originally played by Emma Watson in all eight films. Diehard, entitled fans must have misread every single book, as her race, confirmed by Rowling, is never specified. Then again, let’s be real, of course she had a white Hermione in mind.

The show, again, received backlash this week after the book release with fans enraged that it’s, in fact, a script and not a novel, and that it reads like fan fiction.

Despite all the nontroversy, Harry Potter is, once again, taking the world by storm, and it’s only getting started.

For tickets, visit Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

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A Must See

Phylicia Rashad Brings Head of Passes To Mark Taper Forum

Jazmine Harper-Davis

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Tony Award-winning actress Phylicia Rashad will return to the Mark Taper stage in Head of Passes, a powerful, deeply moving new drama about family and the power of faith by playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney (The Brother/Sister Plays). Directed by Tina Landau, Head of Passes begins performances on September 13 and continues through October 22, 2017. The opening night is set for September 24. Additional casting has yet to be announced.

Family and friends are gathering to celebrate Shelah’s (Rashad) birthday under the leaky roof of her home at the mouth of the Mississippi River. But an unwanted birthday party and unrelenting rains are only the first challenges in this contemporary parable inspired by the Book of Job in which unexpected events turn the reunion into the ultimate test of faith and love. As her world seems to collapse around her, Shelah must fight to survive the rising flood of life’s greatest challenges in this poetic and piercing new play.

Head of Passes,which took home two Lucille Lortel Awards for Lead and Featured Actress in A Play, was last seen at The Public Theater in New York, where it received rave reviews. New York Times theater critic, Ben Brantley praises Rashad’s performance saying, “…Ms. Rashad gives the impression that she could definitely hold her own on Shakespeare’s blasted heath. Portraying a sorely tested Southern matriarch, she can be found railing against God and the elements with a harrowingly Lear-like rage.”

Tickets for the Mark Taper Forum’s 50th season are currently available by season ticket membership only. For information and to charge season tickets by phone, call the Exclusive Season Ticket Hotline at (213) 972-4444. To purchase season memberships online click here.

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Celebrity Takeover

Dreamgirls London Starring Amber Riley Finds It’s Dream Cast

Andrew Shade

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As previously reported, Amber Riley will be taking to the stage on The West End as Effie in Dreamgirls. It will be the first time that a full production has been mounted on a major London stage. It comes 35 years after the original 1981 production opened on Broadway starring The Dreamgirls we all know and cherish today, Jennifer Holiday, Sheryl Lee Ralph, & Loretta Devine.

We have been patiently waiting for the entire cast to be revealed and it’s finally here. Giving the exclusives on everything @DreamgirlsLDN via twitter is Baz Bamigboye, Daily Mail entertainment columnist, and boy, oh, boy does he spill all the beans we need.

Playing the roles of Deena & Lorrell alongside Riley’s Effie are Liisi LaFontaine and Ibinabo Jack, respectively.

He didn’t stop there. Bamigboye also revealed that Curtis Taylor Jr. will be played by Joe Aaron Reid, James “Thunder” Early aka Jimmy will be played by Adam J Bernard, and C.C. White will be played by Tyrone Huntley.

And the cherry on top of it all came when it was announced that the original composer of Dreamgirls, Henry Krieger is working on a new song for the opening of Act II. He also wrote “Listen” for the Dreamgirls movie, made famous by Beyonce. “Listen” was also turned into a duet between Deena Jones and Effie White for the most recent national tour of Dreamgirls in 2009. We wonder what Krieger will cook up this time. We’ll make sure to keep you in the loop when we find out.

Click HERE for more information on tickets and show dates

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Coming Soon

Aja Naomi King To Read The Mountaintop In LA

Alicia Samuel

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Aja Naomi King will play “Camae” in the reading of Katori Hall’s hit play, The Mountaintop, at the James Bridges Theater UCLA May 19-22.

The Yale School of Drama graduate is having a breakout year! In addition to this reading, King also plays “Michaela Pratt” on ABC’s hit drama “How to Get Away With Murder” and “Cherry” in this year’s “The Birth of a Nation”. But don’t let the actress fool you, her roots are in the theatre! During her years at Yale the versatile performer took on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Little Shop of Horrors and Angels in America!

She will, no doubt, shine in The Mountaintop:

On the evening of April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated outside room 306 of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. What happened inside room 306 on the evening of April 3 is the subject of Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop. Hours after King’s final speech, punctuated by his immortal line, “I’ve been to the mountaintop,” the celebrated reverend reveals his regrets as he and a hotel maid talk into the late hours of what will be his final day.

The play will also star Larry Powell as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and will be directed by Roger Guenveur Smith.

We love to see our favorite television and film stars maintain their connection to the theatre! We firmly believe it is the best way to better oneself and find new inspiration in the craft! Who knows? Maybe there’s a broadway role for Aja in the near future? You know Broadway Black will be ready and waiting!

Visit here to purchase tickets to what’s sure to be a moving performance!

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Celebrity Takeover

Michelle Williams Will Star in Aida at The Muny

Andrew Shade

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Meet me in St. Louis! Seriously. This summer, Grammy Award-winner Michelle Williams, known for being 1/3 of Destiny’s Child, will return to the stage in a role she knows very well. She will star as Aida at The Muny, an outdoor musical amphitheatre in Forest Park, St. Louis, Missouri. In 2003, the star made her Broadway debut in the title role of Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida.  Since that graceful entrance into the lights, Williams has found a home that she can always return to, having done so previously starring in The Color Purple, Chicago, & Fela!

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The Muny‘s production of Aida will be directed by Matt Lenz and choreographed by John Rua with music direction by Andrew Graham. The rest of the cast has yet to be announced. However, Muny artistic director and executive producer Mike Isaacson had this to say in a statement:

“We’re thrilled Michelle Williams will star as our Aida. It is one of the most iconic roles in contemporary musical theater, and I can’t wait to see her create her particular brand of musical magic on the Muny stage.” 

“Aida” closes the season for The Muny, following after “The Wizard of Oz” (June 13-22), “42nd Street” (June 24-30), “The Music Man” (July 5-11), “Young Frankenstein” (July 13-19), “Mamma Mia!” (July 21-28) and “Fiddler on the Roof” (July 30-Aug. 5). Season tickets go on sale March 5. Single tickets go on sale May 28.

The news was announced on IG by @RealMichelleW

 

JUST IN: @realmichellew will return to the role of #AIDA at @themuny! #BroadwayBlack

A photo posted by Broadway Black (@broadwayblack) on

 

 

The original Broadway production won four 2000 Tony Awards including Best Actress by Heather Headley, who originated the title role.

Recently Michelle has co-hosted ABC Television’s The View & been quite insightful on the reality show Fix My Choir on the Oxygen Network.

Watch Michelle Williams sing a small snippet of Easy as Life 13 years ago below and imagine how much of a slay she’ll be in the role today.

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Broadway Black Exclusive

Kevin Harry Brings Sweeney Todd to Life in Atlanta Production

George Kevin Jordan

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Kevin Harry is taking a break. The average person with a few minutes to kill during work might grab coffee or sneak in a nap. Perhaps they gather around the microwave and argue about Leonardo Dicaprio’s Oscar chances. But this particular actor is using his break time between rehearsals to talk to a reporter about musical theater. Sweeney Todd in particular.

“This is my all-time favorite musical,” Harry says, and you believe him. How could you not? His enthusiasm is infectious. It seeps through the phone. You feel excited just hearing him retell the moment when he was introduced to the production. His choir director in junior high brought in the original soundtrack for the kids. And even at that early age, Harry could hear the greatness in the musical.

“It is so well written that even if you haven’t seen the show, you knew what was going on,” Harry says. His love of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s brilliant and sinister production is important because from January 23 to February 28th, Harry will be playing the lead role in The Actor’s Express production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

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His love and interest in the role were only heightened when director Freddie Ashley asked him about playing the role.

“He (Freddie) said ‘I would like to do the show with you in mind’,” Harry says adding, “In the theater world, that never happens. I took advantage of it. And the rest is history.”

A reporter contacted Ashley to see what it was that made him decide upon Harry for the coveted role.

“Kevin is an exceptionally gifted performer,” Ashley says via email. “His voice has the power to go from tender and emotional to loud and booming very seamlessly. I think he is doing an amazing job exploring the complexities of the character and not just playing him as a series of traits. Sweeney has a complicated psychology and Kevin is really exploring that.”

In fact, Harry is the first to admit to a circuitous journey to the world of theater that brought him to Atlanta and eventually a bevy of gigs and notoriety.

“I wanted to be a hip-hop dancer,” Harry admits without a shred of irony. He toured all over the east coast with a band called Radiant. When the band broke up, another one was formed with one key ingredient missing.

“We couldn’t find a singer,” Harry says. This was one of the pivotal moments that proved to be useful in his life later in the theater. “I had never led a band before and I learned the hard way how to sing in front of a crowd.”

Harry sang in the group and also performed at weddings. Secretly, he had a desire to try theater and acting. He moved to Atlanta and tried the local scene. But he didn’t even have a headshot. It didn’t go well.

Somehow he landed a production in Clarkston, Georgia. A show in which “Nobody showed.” Nobody except a burgeoning agent who was starting her own company. She signed Harry, and he began to get gigs all over Atlanta, in theater, TV and film.

Harry began honing his skills in the triple arts of musical theater, performing in bands at night, doing internships at theaters and auditioning, auditioning, auditioning, auditioning… Replace the word audition with years and you understand the actor’s struggle.

One of the high points of his long climb from training to professional was singing at “Showtime at the Apollo.”

“My wife had to convince me to audition,” Harry recalls. When he did the local audition in Atlanta, “they barely looked up from the table,” so he let it go. But then the producers called him months later. He was shocked and surprised.

“I said, ‘I want to make sure that you really want me. Or am I the guy that is going to get booed’,” Harry says.

He didn’t win.

But he didn’t get booed.

Buoyed by an internal victory of performing in front of one of the most unpredictable audiences ever, Harry returned to Atlanta renewed. He started to see all the things that seemed random before were actually helping him with his journey in the theater. But one mantra has helped him stay humble and be a better performer.

“One of the things I pride myself on is I get into productions where people are ten times better than me,” he says. “There are people in (Sweeney Todd) whose credits are far beyond mine.”

It’s his work ethic and willingness to learn from the best that brought him a lot of great roles and regional attention. Just last fall, local weekly Creative Loafing named Harry Best Male Actor in their annual Best of Atlanta wrap-up issue.

This is not just because he is likable, which he is. It’s because he has weaved a career of playing challenging characters that were not exactly in his wheelhouse, but he added something special to the mix that reviewers and audiences could not deny. He had been lucky enough to play roles that traditionally may not have gone to him. Like Daddy Warbucks in the Atlanta Lyric Theater’s production of Annie. Or the Aurora Theater’s rendition of Les Miserables where he played Javert. And now Sweeney Todd.

Let’s have a real moment. Harry is an African-American actor in a Black Mecca, going into a medium that has a reputation for being “traditional” in casting. Broadway is not called the “Great White Way” for nothing.

“I wish it didn’t matter,” Harry says of race politics in theater. “It’s 2016. It can’t be that hard to think that people can play different roles.”

But this is where Harry’s talent and luck coincide. With Sweeney Todd and the Actor’s Express, the actor was already prepared for interesting choices and surprising production decisions.

“The Actor’s Express tends to push the envelope a bit more,” Harry says. “They understand that when you come to see their shows, you are going to see something you don’t see in other theaters. They are not a paint-by-number theater.”

Ashley once again weighed in on the challenges of casting and what theater companies need to do to bring a wider swath of talent.

“For too long, the theatre has been dominated by white, straight, male points of view,” Ashley says. “We have a responsibility to reflect the rich diversity of the communities we serve. More than “color-blind” casting, I am interested in “color-conscious” casting. That is to say, make diversity a core value in the casting process, not an afterthought.”

And Ashley takes his mission further than just roles for actors.

“Theatres should be producing more plays written by women and writers of color,” Ashley says. “And theatres then have to become more proactive about reaching underserved audiences. You’ll hear a lot of white artistic directors say they don’t produce more work by artists of color because the audience isn’t there. That simply is not true.”

It’s no wonder Harry is a fan ofActor’s Express and, more specifically, of Sweeney Todd’s director, Ashley.

“Freddie pushes the best out of you,” Harry says. “You walk in a Pinto and walk out a Ferrari.”

This is good, because the role of Sweeney Todd is not a cakewalk.

PLOT SYNOPSIS: Framed and banished for a crime he didn’t commit, Benjamin Barker returns to his hometown to avenge his wife who was raped. He assumes the name Sweeney Todd and strikes a macabre deal with his former landlord to kill people. Those people later become pie meat. Oh yeah, there is a lot of singing and harmonies in there, too. But there’s a lot of murdering as well.

How does Harry deal with such complicated and dark material?

“I often joke that if people aren’t afraid of me after the show then I didn’t do my job,” Harry says. Then he realizes that he may have even scared the reporter and adds, “There are things that are really dark – and things that will make you laugh, sometimes uncomfortably. It’s going to entertain regardless of what happens. You will experience something. You will leave a changed person.”

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