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RESPECT! Liesl Tommy Will Direct Jennifer Hudson in Aretha Franklin Biopic

Drew Shade

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The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, handpicked Jennifer Hudson to play her in a biopic and now according to Deadline Tony-nominated director Liesl Tommy (Eclipsed, InsecureQueen Sugar) has been picked by MGM to direct the movie entitled Respect. Liesl is the first black woman to earn a Tony Award nomination for Best Direction of a Play.

Tommy had to say: “The story of Aretha Franklin’s journey from child prodigy in Detroit to international supernova is rife with struggle and triumph, making her life one of the great American stories of all time. As a filmmaker, there is no greater gift than to be able to bring this transcendent chronicle of a woman’s fight for self-realization to visual life with the enormous talents of the soulful Jennifer Hudson, Callie Khouri, and our incredible producers.”

Hudson who made her Broadway debut with the revival of The Color Purple seems like the perfect fit for a film on the late great singer/musician/icon. Respect covers the life of the late Franklin from singing as a child in her father’s church’s choir to becoming an iconic superstar and civil rights activist. The film will track Franklin’s coming of age to icon status, with 20 No. 1 R&B hits, 18 Grammy Awards en route to becoming the first female to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Hudson says: “It is an absolute honor to be a part of bringing Ms. Franklin’s story to audiences who adore her around the world. She is one of the most iconic and talented artists of all time, and what a dream come true it is to portray her extraordinary life on screen. I could not be more excited to be working alongside Liesl Tommy, a brilliant and thoughtful director, who is no doubt the perfect choice to lead the film,”

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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Cast List

Ariana DeBose Cast as Anita in Stephen Spielberg’s West Side Story

Drew Shade

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photo via arianadebose.com

Tony Award Nominee for her portrayal of Donna Summer in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, Ariana DeBose (Summer, Hamilton, A Bronx Tale) will play legendary character Anita in the forthcoming West Side Story movie directed by Stephen Spielberg. DeBose follows in the footsteps of some iconic theatre actresses; Chita Rivera, the original Broadway Anita; Debbie Allen, who put her mark on the role in a 1980 Broadway revival, and Rita Moreno, who won an Oscar for her portrayal in the original film.

Moreno has also been cast in Spielberg’s remake as Valentina, a reconceived and expanded version of the character of Doc, the owner of the corner store in which Tony works.

“I’m honored to follow in the footsteps of the remarkable women who have played Anita – including Chita Rivera and, of course, the incomparable Rita Moreno,” said DeBose. “I relate so strongly to Anita – a strong Puerto Rican woman who came to New York in search of opportunity – and I feel so fortunate for the chance to work with this amazing cast and creative team.”

According to Deadline, the cast also includes Tony winner for Billy Elliot, David Alvarez in the role of Bernardo, with Rachel Zegler as Maria, Josh Andrés Rivera as Chino, & Ansel Elgort as Tony.

West Side Story filming is slated to start in the summer of 2019 and will be released by Twentieth Century Fox.

The casting of the Jets and the Sharks have yet to be made but will be in the coming weeks.

 

 

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🇵🇷 WEST SIDE STORY has been cherished for decades because it’s not just a love story, but also a culturally significant work whose central premise – that love transcends prejudice and intolerance – hasn’t lost its relevance. In today’s world I am so proud to have the privilege and opportunity to dive into such challenging material – it is what every artist hopes for. Having the chance to work with Steven Spielberg, one of my favorite writers on the planet Tony Kushner, Justin Peck, the legendary Rita Moreno and the rest of the creative team is such an honor. I can’t wait to get on set and start shooting with this amazing group of actors!!!! We haven’t even really got the chance to meet and I’m already in love with you @davidalvarezofficial❤️💋 Cheers to creating something wonderful🥂 #Anita #myfaceisnexttoStevenSpeilbergsname #dreamjob #nowtimetoprepare #thehustleneverstop ##

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Leads & Legends

Audra McDonald Is Divine in Sexy Movie Musical “Hello Again”

Broadway Black

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The origin of the word diva comes from the Latin word for “divine,” and when we talk about Black Broadway, there’s one person that fits that bill every time: Our Lady of Song, Audra McDonald. Though she’s played some fantastic leading ladies on stage, we’re excited to see her on the big screen again. No, not in Beauty and the Beast, but by another singing film role, this time as Sally, an diva and mistress to a senator (Martha Plimpton) in Michael Lachiusa’s movie musical, “Hello Again.”

 

If that job title sounds familiar, it’s because Audra performed Hello Again’s “Mistress of the Senator” on her 1998 album “Way Back To Paradise.” We get chills when we see McDonald’s name with Lachiusa’s because of their rich history of fabulous music. Lachiusa wrote “Marie Christine” (1999) and “See What I Wanna See”(2005); both starred McDonald.

 

“Hello Again” is the cinematic adaptation of LaChiusa’s celebrated Off-Broadway musical of the same name; inspired by Arthur Schnitzler’s controversial 1897 play “La Ronde.” Ten fleeting love affairs across a century in New York City history are explored through ten lust-filled musical episodes.

 

The film makes its rounds in film festival scenes across the country throughout the summer. While you wait to see if it’s coming to a theater near you, soothe your soul with this music video of McDonald from the film. It’s titled “Beyond the Moon” which is as apt description of the lengths we’ll go to find tickets to this amazingly sexy film.

 

“Hello Again” also stars Cheyenne Jackson (Xanadu), Martha Plimpton (Top Girls), Jenna Ushkowitz (Spring Awakening) and several others.

The film makes its rounds in film festival scenes across the country throughout the summer. While you wait to see if it’s coming to a theater near you, soothe your soul with this music video of McDonald from the film. It’s titled “Beyond the Moon” which is as apt description of the lengths we’ll go to find tickets to this amazingly sexy film.

“Hello Again” also stars Cheyenne Jackson (Xanadu), Martha Plimpton (Top Girls), Jenna Ushkowitz (Spring Awakening) and several others.

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