The most anticipated musical of the year, Hamilton is set to open in three weeks. During its off- Broadway run, Hamilton has already received critical acclaim. It’s won Best Musical at the Obie Awards, Lucille Lortel Awards, Outer Critics Circle Awards, New York Drama Critics’ Awards and Drama Desk Awards. It’s gotten rave reviews from the New York Times and Wall Street Journey and most recently has a featured spread in the latest issue of VOUGE magazine.
The new musical by Tony Award-winning In the Heights creator Lin-Manuel Miranda explores the life of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, inspired by the book “Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernow. Meet some of the Broadway Black revolutionaries and rebels who are about to take Broadway by storm this summer.
Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr…
Leslie Odom Jr. was last seen in City Center Encores’ Tick Tick…Boom! last summer alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda. He has previously appeared at The Public Theater in Venice. Broadway credits include Leap of Faith and Rent. His film and television credits include Red Tails, “SMASH”, “Person of Interest”, “Supernatural”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, and “Law & Order: SVU.”
Renee Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler…
Renee Elise Goldsberry has performed in The Public Theater productions of As You Like It, Love’s Labour’s Lost, and Two Gentleman of Verona. She has appeared on Broadway in Good People, The Color Purple as the original “Nettie”, the last run of Rent as “Mimi”, and The Lion King. Her film and television credits include “Every Secret Thing”, “Masters of Sex,” “The Good Wife,” “The Following,” “Royal Pains,” “One Life To Live,” and “Ally McBeal.” Most recently, Goldsberry won the Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel Awards for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical for her work in Hamilton.
Daveed Diggs as Marquis De Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson…
Daveed Diggs is originally a rapper from Oakland, CA as apart of the group clipping. His theater credits include Nobody Move, Fabulation, In The Red and Brown Water, Mirrors in Every Corner, Red Light Winter, The Comedy of Errors, Troilus and Cressida, and many others. His film credits include “The Industry”, “Rockstar”, “One Hot Run”, “Grand Café”, and “Infants of Spring”.
Jasmine Sephas Jones as Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds..
Hamilton is Jones’ Broadway debut. She made her Atlantic Theater and Off-Broadway debut in 2014 as “Keisha” in The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. She is a member of Labyrinth Theater Company. Film: Untitled Noah Baumbach, Titus. Television: “Blue Bloods”, “Unforgettable, “The Blacklist”.
Okieriete Onaodowan as Hercules Mulligan/James Madison…
Onaodowan has Broadway credits that include Rocky and Cyrano de Bergerac. New York credits that include Neighbors (The Public Theater/NYSF), Langston in Harlem (Urban Stages), The Shipment (The Kitchen), and “Pontius Pilate” in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Richmond Sheppard Theatre). Regional credits include Son of the Prophet (NYSF) with F. Murray Abraham and Joanna Gleason, Coalhouse in Ragtime (New Jersey Performing Arts Center), and many others.
Hamilton also stars Lin-Manuel Miranda (In The Heights) as “Alexander Hamilton”, Jonathan Groff (Spring Awakening) as “King George”, Phillipa Soo (Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812) as “Eliza Hamilton”, Christopher Jackson (In the Heights) as “George Washington”, Anthony Ramos (Sideways Stories from Wayside School) as “John Laurens/Phillip Hamilton”.
The ensemble include Carleigh Bettiol, Andrew Chappelle, Ariana DeBose, Alysha Deslorieux, Sydney James Harcourt, Neil Haskell, Sasha Hutchings, Thayne Jasperson, Stephanie Klemons, Morgan Marcell, Emmy Raver-Lampan, Javier Munoz, Jon Rua, Austin Smith, Seth Stewart, Betsy Struxness, Ephraim Sykes and Voltaire Wade-Greene.
Hamilton is one of the hottest tickets on Broadway, so if you plan on going you should really plan ahead. As previously reported, Hamilton begins previews on July 13th and opens officially August 6th at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. Tickets are available for purchase from now until March 27, 2016 at the Hamilton on Broadway website here.
We Were There: Sojourners & Her Portmanteau
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Playwright, educator, opera singer, and Queen, Mfoniso Udofia has two plays running at New York Theatre Workshop. *pause* TWO PLAYS. In the SAME season!?!? *ends congratulatory gasp* Sojourners and Her Portmanteau are performed in repertory, as two chapters of Udofia’s sweeping, nine-part saga, The Ufot Cycle. Admittedly, before researching each show, I didn’t know the definition of either word; and in the spirit of keeping it consistent with the honesty, I didn’t like either play. I loved them.
Minimalism seems to be the name of the game these days. I sat down to a completely black stage, sans a multimedia display lodged on the ceiling at a 45-degree angle. Clutching my all white program and bobbing my head to the ‘70s pop rock pre-show music, I prepared my heart for the story of Sojourners, well at least that was the plan. The stage begins to rotate and we meet Abasiama (Chinasa Ogbuagu) and Ukpong (Hubert Point-Du Jour), Nigerian expatriates sojourning in Houston, Texas with the plan to start a family, earn their degrees, and go back to Nigeria until life happens.
Charming and handsome, Ukpong becomes defined by his leather jacket, shoulder work and shimmy which match the fascination and yearning for freedom that illuminates his eyes every time he talks of peace, protest, and Prince–all shaping his view of 1970s America, and consequently, the American Dream. But does leather compensate for grit? Is a movement or vibe really a panacea for disappointment, aimlessness, and a need to find yourself? Abasiama enters the play pregnant, purposed, and outfitted in pieces of Nigerian garb, grounded in duty showing a stark contrast to Ukpong who floats in desire. What’s lost in your household is found elsewhere, and this is when we start to see, and root for, Abasiama’s transformation from timid to tenacious.
Enter Moxie (Lakisha May), a colorful prostitute turned protector and friend. There is a mutual respect despite great differences between her and Abasiama, with their love for one another creating moments that make you believe in the beauty of humanity. Enter Disciple (Chinaza Uche), another warm and determined hearted immigrant who has come to the United States to study, rounding out the timely additions of love, support, and security when Abasiama needed them the most.
Through and through this is Abasiama’s story and she glows. Her kindness, her sisterhood, her strength, her worthiness, and the realization of her American Dream, guide her decisions—which is the catalyst behind the entire Ufot Cycle.
Her “portmanteau”, or red suitcase, makes a return as 30 years have passed. Abasiama now has two daughters, one raised in America and the other who has come from Nigeria to reconnect with her family.
This is a good moment to mention that each story is informed by the other, but can certainly stand alone on substance, content, and the amazing direction of Ed Sylvanus Iskandar. The staging is exciting and deliberate, while minimal, putting the full focus on the tension and growth to be expected of a family reunited after a substantial amount of time and distance.
Chinasa Ogbuagu returns to the stage, this time as the American-born daughter, Adiagha Ufot, Adepero Oduye as Iniabasi Ekpeyoung (Ukpong and Abasiama’s daughter), and Jenny Jules as the mother, Abasiama Ufot.
Seated on a couch in Adiagha’s small New York Apartment, no amount of preparation readies your mind and spirit to form the words to make up for 30 years of life, connection, and memories missed. We’re taken on a ride of resentment, hurt, love, and forgiveness, as the portmanteau is literally unpacked. We watch the teeter-tottering between offense and defense as one sister tries to assimilate into American culture, and the other attempts, albeit stubbornly, to fall in formation in honoring a family she shares blood with, but little time or tangible history.
It’s powerful to see a story of history and continuing a legacy despite lost time, faulty promises, and difficult choices explored with an all-woman cast as far too often the idea of legacy is framed in patriarchy. Jules admirably takes Abasiama through the fire to heal, to feel, and to fix her family. The narrative allows us to empathize and understand the struggle that comes with upholding family values versus cultivating a space to achieve personal dreams and happiness.
Her Portmanteau (and Sojourners) is written in a way that finds your soul, gently massaging it with humor, while leaving it with very real questions. I’ve never felt a greater need to binge read nine stories and simultaneously study the story of my own family tree. I left changed. I left wrapped in the strength of my mom and my mom’s- mom’s sacrifice. I left pensive and with seeds of future forgiveness planted. I left changed.
For capturing our hearts with wit and with truth. For putting Black women at the center of a poignant narrative. For unapologetically telling a story you haven’t seen told and telling it in the way you want it to be told.
We thank you Mfoniso. We thank you.
Have you seen the #duetplays? Sound off in the comments below![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
Our Story in 2 Plays for 1 Price: Mfoniso Udofia’s Sojourners & Her Portmanteau
Last winter, we reported on Sojourners by playwright Mfoniso Udofia, a new play about a Nigerian family who has come to America with the goal of earning a college education, starting a family, and returning to Nigeria. But not without the twists and turns that come along with every plan that seems straightforward.
Thanks to New York Theatre Workshop, we get to relive this moment and continue the dialogue, decades later, with Her Portmanteau. Performed in repertory, these two chapters of Udofia’s sweeping, nine-part saga, The Ufot Cycle, chronicle the triumphs and losses of the tenacious matriarch of a Nigerian family.
Ed Sylvanus Iskandar directs the two-part story in association with The Playwrights Realm, who premiered Sojourners last winter in a limited engagement world premiere production. Her Portmanteau also received the 2016 Edgerton Foundation New Play Award grant.
As if that wasn’t enough to get excited about, we have an exclusive deal for our Broadway Black readers!
Our Story in 2 Plays for 1 Price!
Yes. That’s two shows for one price! The discount code BWYBLACK will take 50% off tickets to ANY performance(s) if purchased by May 15th!
Go ahead and grab your tickets. We have ours!
Sojourners and Her Portmanteau plays at NYTW until June 4th.
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