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Uzo Aduba, Christopher Jackson and More for Opening Act’s Annual Benefit Reading

Jazmine Harper-Davis

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Opening Act, which for more than a decade has provided free after-school theater programming to New York City’s most under-served public high schools, announced today that Jasmine Cephas Jones (Hamilton), Zazie Beetz (Atlanta), and Tom Pelphrey (Iron Fist), have joined the cast of Opening Act’s 11th Annual Benefit Play Reading “A Night of YES!” at New World Stages on April 25th, 2017.

Previously announced cast members Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black), Christopher Jackson (Hamilton), and Auli’i Cravalho (Moana) will headline the night of performance and song. Tony Award-winner Kenny Leon (HAIRSPRAY LIVE!, A Raisin in the Sun) also returns to direct scenes from works by renowned playwrights Katori Hall (The Mountaintop) and Ike Holter (Exit Strategy).

Additional cast members include Dominique Fishback (The Deuce), Heather Alicia Simms (A Raisin in the Sun), Melle Powers (Chapelle’s Show), Marcus Denard Johnson (A Tale of Two Cities The Musical), Malia Braithwaite (Opening Act Alum), and Caleb Grandoit (Opening Act Alumi).

“At this time, when so many of the issues Opening Act’s work addresses – social justice, education, the arts, equity – are gaining urgency, this year’s Play Reading is especially critical,” said Suzy Myers Jackson, Executive Director of Opening Act. “We’re always blown away by the caliber of talent that participates in this event and this year is no exception.”

Tickets are on sale now at www.openingact.org/tickets. In addition to celebrity and student performances, the event will include a raffle for tickets to Hamilton: An American Musical. The winner will have a choice of two house seats and an exclusive backstage tour of the Broadway, Chicago, or California productions.

Opening Act’s past Play Reading actors and Artistic Advisory Board Members include Aja Naomi King, Kristen Bell, Anika Noni Rose, Joshua Jackson, Cynthia Nixon , John Slattery, Tonya Pinkins, Edie Falco, Beau Bridges, and Courtney B. Vance.

Opening Act is an innovative nonprofit that brings free, long-term theater programs to 40 of New York City’s most under-served public high schools. Through theater, Opening Act students gain confidence, pride, and the knowledge that they can succeed at anything in life. Opening Act’s vision is to see that every New York City public school student has access to an artistic space where they can develop commitment, community, and leadership through their artistic achievement.

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Across The Pond

Marisha Wallace Leads The Color Purple as Celie in London Benefit Concert

Jazmine Harper-Davis

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Marisha Wallace

Marisha Wallace, currently the alternate Effie in Dreamgirls in London, will star as Celie in a new one-night-only concert performance of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical The Color Purple at London’s Cadogan Hall, May 21st at 6:00 P.M.

The concert staging will raise funds for the British Theatre Academy, a unique performing arts program that has inspired and nurtured the talent of thousands of young performers who cannot afford to train in performing arts. The evening will also feature a chorus of over 40 current British Theatre Academy participants.

Based on the novel by Alice Walker, The Color Purple tells the inspiring and unforgettable story of a woman who, through love, finds the strength to triumph over adversity and discover her unique voice in the world.

The musical features a book by Marsha Norman, and music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray.

Last seen in London at the Menier Chocolate Factory, directed by John Doyle and starring Tony-Award winner Cynthia Erivo, the production later transferred to Broadway and earned the 2016 Tony for Best Revival of A Musical.

In addition to Wallace as Celie, the cast of the benefit concert includes Wendy Mae Brown (Ghost) as Sofia, Cavin Cornwall (London’s Aladdin) as Mister, Tyrone Huntley (Dreamgirls) as Harpo, Rachel John (The Bodyguard) as Shug, Hugh Maynard (London’s Miss Saigon) as Pa, and Seyi Omooba (Junkyard) as Nettie.

The performance, produced by Matthew Chandler and Danielle Tarento, features musical direction by James Taylor and choreography by Mykal Rand.

Tickets now on sale.

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Concert Night

Daniel J. Watts Presents The Jam: Love Terrorists Benefit For Orlando

Broadway Black

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On July 31 WattsWords Productions in association with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Presents Daniel J. Watts’  The Jam: Love Terrorists (A Benefit for Orlando) at the Marlin Room at Webster Hall in NYC for one night only.

“In light of the recent events, most notably the horrendous mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando that rocked the world last month, we need to galvanize the masses to speak openly, honestly, and sincerely about our fears and differences so that ultimately we can come together as a society,” said poet/performer/activist Watts. “I aim to do that with this original THE JAM: LOVE TERRORISTS. It is paramount that we support each other and use our talents to the betterment of humanity.”

A play-on-words, THE JAM pays homage to Watts’ great-grandmother who, after making jam from scratch, would share with others what she was unable to consume herself. THE JAM is Watts’ continuation of that legacy featuring his original spoken word, often set to music and/or dance.

Check out this throwback to past The Jam event!

 

THE JAM: Love Terrorists is a veritable call to arms, demanding any and all to terrorize with love. The final lines of the title poem read:

Life is a blessing and then you die.

What better way to die than from loving to death?

Love is a weapon of mass construction.

Use it at your leisure.

These are our demands.

Watts (Hamilton) will be joined by his band The InnerView, including lead vocalist Derrick Baskin (Hulu’s “Difficult People,”Whorl Inside A Loop), Hamilton’s Ephraim Sykes (HBO’s “Vinyl”) on drums and vocals, Taharqa Patterson (Lights Out On Broadway) on guitar and vocals, Hamilton’s Voltaire Wade-Greene on bass and vocals, and Taylor Williams (The Color Purple, She Loves Me) on keys, with Preston Dugger III (Motown the Musical, Memphis) aka DJ Duggz spinning through the evening. Beyoncé’s music director and bassist Divinity Roxx (ImPossible, The Roxx Boxx Experience) joins the bill, as well as special performances from the casts of Hamilton, On Your Feet and Shuffle Along. The official after party features DJ Duggz.

The doors for what is sure to be an incredible event will open at 7pm and the show starts at 8pm. It is a night you won’t want to miss! Visit www.WebsterHall.com for more information and tickets!

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