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A New Grinch: You’re A Mean One, Mr… Calloway

Jerrica White

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Christmas and The Grinch are synonymous. Well, hopefully not for you. But, if you’re a New Yorker who has daily contact with the joyous experience that is Metropolitan Transportation Authority, you know the Grinch comes in the form of trains A, C, L, N and R, and unfortunately he is around for more than just the holidays. *inserts rimshot*

All jokes aside, Dr. Seuss has been imparting wisdom since 1937 and his Grinch has been stealing Christmas since 1957. This year, however, The Grinch takes on a new life, giving way to the first African-American to take on the titular role. J. Bernard Calloway (MemphisAll The Way) joins the cast of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas! on the Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage at The Old Globe in San Diego, November 7 through December 26. 

San Diego welcomes Calloway back to their stages with open arms. He is known for portraying the stern and protective, yet loving big brother, “Delray Jones”, in the 2008 world premiere of Memphis at La Jolla Playhouse. Calloway continued this role, rock and rolling into the 2010 Tony Award-winning Broadway production, which ran until 2012. Spreading his gift between TV, film, and the stage, Calloway has also been seen in the 2014 Tony Award-winning production of All the Way, the Off Broadway production of The Good Negro (The Public Theatre), “Dreamgirls” (Fox Theatre), CBS’s “The Good Wife”, and his 2009 film debut in “The Taking of Pelham 123.”

For over 80 years, the Tony Award-winning Old Globe has been enriching lives through the Arts. Deservedly so, they are nationally recognized for their excellence in regional professional theatre. The Old Globe is the original producer of “Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas!” and has continued the tradition of producing it each year since its beginning in 2007. James Vásquez will direct this year’s production. The book and lyrics are by Timothy Mason and the music is written by Mel Marvin. 

Jim Carrey forever shaped my memories as the green goblin of Whoville’s Christmas in the 2000 life action film adaption of “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch Who Stole Christmas!.” As funny as he looked prancing around the screen reminiscent of an oblong stuffed turkey, The Grinch drove a key message home for 8 year old Jerrica. When 21 Days of Christmas comes around each year,  The Grinch reminds us that Christmas is not about presents or food, but it’s about community. No matter what is subtracted from you on a day to day basis, you always have your friends and your family.

Let’s applaud J. Bernard Calloway, as he not only makes his debut at The Old Globe, but breaks history and molds a new holiday memory for many to come.

Noise! Feast! Sing! And get tickets HERE!

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Broadway Black Kids

Okieriete Onaodowan to Host 3rd Annual Shubert Foundation High School Theatre Festival

Jazmine Harper-Davis

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Before picking up the accordion for his upcoming run in Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, Okieriete “Oak” Onaodowan, from the original cast of Hamilton, will host the third annual Shubert Foundation High School Theatre Festival for New York City Public Schools.

On Monday, March 13th at Broadway’s Music Box Theatre (239 West 45th Street) at 7 p.m, more than 100 students from five New York City high schools across the city make their Broadway debuts performing from their selected winter musicals or plays.

Additional guest artist presenters include Shoba Narayan, Nicholas Belton, and Paul Pinto of Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, with cast members from Dear Evan Hansen.

A panel of professional theatre artists and theatre educators selected a total of five productions from a pool of 25 schools. Students from the chosen schools will present excerpted scenes and musical numbers from:

The Music Man: Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (Queens)
Almost, Maine: Brooklyn High School of the Arts (Brooklyn)
Company: Susan E. Wagner High School (Staten Island)
Angels In America: Urban Assembly School for the Performing Arts (Manhattan)
Into The Woods: Edward R. Murrow High School (Brooklyn)

School principals and teachers, along with student family members, will attend to support their young performers representing four of the five boroughs, along with Philip J. Smith, Chairman of The Shubert Organization and Robert E. Wankel, President of The Shubert Organization.

New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña states:

“Theatre instruction teaches students the importance of rehearsing while building self-confidence and strengthening public speaking skills. These are critical skills that prepare students for college, careers and beyond. That’s why I’m so pleased that we continue to expand access to theatre programs and arts education across the City. In particular, we are committed to leveraging the incredible connections we have to New York City’s rich cultural resources and developing meaningful arts partnerships with organisations like Shubert.”

According to the press release:

“The High School Theatre Festival showcases the ongoing and excellent theatre work currently taking place in NYC public high schools, as well as highlighting the positive effects of theatre study on skills for the stage and in life: collaboration, artistry, discipline, focus, literacy, student voice, self-awareness, presence, active listening and empathy.”

Peter Avery, the Festival’s producer and the Director of Theater for the NYC Department of Education, further expressed the importance of the festival, and the impact it might have:

“How inspiring for our student performers to have such unique support for their Broadway debut of their show excerpts, from a professional tech crew and pit musicians to the broader embrace of the theatre community. Given today’s discourse, it is all the more crucial to celebrate the next generation of diverse, talented artists in our NYC public schools. These young men and women, representing a myriad of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, expand the definition of casting and collaborate to produce meaningful theatre for others.”

Sponsored by The Shubert Foundation in partnership with the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE), the festival focuses on the impact a full theatre program might have on students and school communities, and further enables them to see theatre and the arts as a potential career path. Since 2005, The Shubert Foundation has provided more than $4.3 million to the New York City Department of Education for Theatre/Arts programs.

For more information, visit Shubert Foundation.

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Broadway Black Kids

Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit Visits The Color Purple

Jazmine Harper-Davis

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Even though we’re out on summer vacation, the proud teacher in me never takes a break. Case in point, last night The Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit paid The Color Purple a visit and didn’t go out quietly. After curtain call the group of extremely talented youngsters SANG for the cast and BABY THOSE HARMONIES!

Thank God for social media, cast member Danielle Brooks reordered the lovely thank you message and tweeted:

 

Cynthia Erivo and Heather Headley also offered their gratitude via social media last night as well;

What the Mosaic Youth Theatre is doing is such fulfilling and necessary work, them bringing all those kids out to Broadway makes me want to melt. Danielle Brooks summed it up perfectly in her Instagram post:

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