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Nikki M. James Will Star in Public Theater’s Twelfth Night Musical

Broadway Black

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As part of Public Works, the Public Theater has announced that Tony Award winner Nikki M. James will star in Kwame Kwei-Armah and Shaina Taub’s musical adaptation of William Shakespeare’s comedy Twelfth Night. The free production will take place at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, September 2nd through the 5th.

James plays heroine Viola, a shipwrecked young girl who takes the identity of her presumably dead twin brother. She falls in love with the Duke Orsino (played by Jose Llana), but also catches the eye of the Countess Olivia, Orsino’s object of affection. Joining them is Andrew Kober as Malvolio, Jacob Ming-Trent as Sir Toby Belch, and Taub as Feste. Shakespeare’s brilliant comedy features a slew of unusual courtships and mistaken-identity.

This production, which features over 200 actors and performances, includes a mixture of cameo appearances by COBU, Harlem Dance Club, Jambalaya Brass Band, The Love Show, New York Deaf Theatre, Ziranmen Kungfu Wushu Training Center, and One United States Postal Carrier.

Per its mission statement,

PUBLIC WORKS is a major initiative of The Public Theater that seeks to engage the people of New York by making them creators and not just spectators. Working deeply with partner organizations in all five boroughs, Public Works invites members of diverse communities to participate in workshops, take classes, attend performances at The Public, and, most importantly, to join in the creation of ambitious works of participatory theater.

James won a Tony Award in 2011 for her hilarious, nuanced performance in The Book of Mormon. Since then, she’s appeared Off-Broadway in Fetch Clay, Make Man, and in the second Broadway revival of Les Misérables as the tragic Éponine.

Additionally, Ming-Trent has appeared on Broadway in both Hands on a Hardbody and Shrek The Musical.

Delacorte distributes two free tickets per person starting at noon the day of the performance. The theatre also offers lottery tickets through the TodayTix app.

Visit Public for more information about Twelfth Night and Public Works.

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Celebrity Takeover

Tituss Burgess Has New Music, A New Movie, & No Time For Mess + The Preacher’s Wife Musical Update

Broadway Black

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Tituss Burgess' Saint Tituss EP cover
Tituss Burgess' Saint Tituss EP cover

On Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, Tituss Burgess gave us an update on his musical adaptation of the 1996 movie, The Preacher’s Wife – starring Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston. On the late-night talk show, a viewer called in to ask if there had been any updates regarding the show and Burgess shared that:

“ We are very close to signing with a hot-shot producer in New York, which means that the show is closer to appearing in London or here. But there’s also a recent development which could delay it for the better. You’ll find out about it later”

So not only do we know that the musical is still on its way to bless us, but there is an announcement about the show on the way! If you ask me, this is incredibly exciting. Tituss Burgess’ career has gone from stage to screen, and his abilities as an actor and singer are undeniable. Knowing that we are closer to seeing his skills as a musical theatre composer is mad exciting. Watch a clip from the interview above.

While we wait for The Preacher’s Wife Musical, listen to Burgess’ newly released EP Saint Tituss. Burgess sings his face off as he skillfully talks about issues that are personal and political — all while wrapping things up with a joyous celebration of resilience as positivity. He also has two songs that feature Daniel J. Watts including the single 45

St. Tituss is available on Spotify, apple music, and other streaming platforms.

He also has a new movie on the way. “Dolemite Is My Name” starring Eddie Murphy along with Burgess, Mike Epps, Chris Rock, & more will premiere at the Toronto Film Festival. A national release date has not been set as of yet but is sure to be on its way.

 

While discussing the new movie during the same interview, Cohen asked Burgess about his relationship with Murphy. The way Cohen presented the question insinuates there might have been a problem between the two because of a ‘problematic past with the gays’ on Murphy’s part. The response given by Burgess is swift and loaded with “you tried it, but you won’t get me”:

“He wasn’t problematic for Tituss. We had a wonderful time. We talked about Dreamgirls and he should have won the Oscasr, I believe. He was great. Any troubles he may have had with gay people I guess are gone because he loved me.”

It is the following facial expression and the interaction that comes afterward that makes live television great. You can see Burgess say something to someone off-camera which leads Cohen to ask what he’s saying. Burgess replies with a soon-to-be iconic response to everything: “Keep going, girl. Do your show.”

and this is why we live.

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Coming Soon

The Public Theater Will Present Hercules Musical & Hercules Is Black!

Drew Shade

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The Muses via Hercules film

We knew it was coming, we just didn’t know when. Back in 2017, we reported that a musical adaptation of the Disney movie Hercules would be headed to Broadway. Now we can confirm that is somewhat true.

Hercules will be the latest Disney musical to be made for the stage and will play Off-Broadway at the Public Theater’s Delacorte Theater in Central Park. As the final show of the Shakespeare in the Park season theater season performances will run August 31 through September 8 with a reading set to take place in April.

The role of Hercules will be played by a Black actor, according to the casting notice

The musical will include the Oscar-nominated “Go the Distance, along with other songs from the 1997 animated film by Alan Menken & David Zippel. Presented through an arrangement with Disney Theatrical Productions, the show will be directed by Lear deBessonet.  The creative team also includes a book by Kristoffer Diaz, & choreography by Chase Brock.

Before Hercules, Kenny Leon will direct the Much Ado About Nothing May 21 through June 23 to begin the Shakespeare in the Park season.

Casting for all both productions will be announced at a later date

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Twitter: @BroadwayBlack

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