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2013 Tonys

Sasha Allen Shines In Pippin National Tour

Broadway Black

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It’s been almost a year since Broadway dynamo (Hair) and “The Voice” finalist Sasha Allen joined the National Tour of Pippin and she is still going strong! This summer the cast will tour Texas and the Midwest before completing the season on the west coast.pippin_sasha_allen_400

Many may remember Sasha Allen from the indie cult-classic, Camp (check out the Broadway Black article about the upcoming sequel!!) However, it was her role as “Dionne” in the 2009 Broadway production of Hair that caused the theater community to really take notice. Since then, she has been conquering music, film, television, and now back on the stage as the “Leading Player” in Pippin; continuing a tradition set by Tony Award winners Ben Vereen and Patina Miller.

Pippin follows the journey of the son King Charles as he searches for purpose and direction in his life. This national tour continues the amazing storytelling set by composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz and director Diane Paulus in the 2013 revival with stunning acrobatics and brilliant choreography based in the Bob Fosse tradition.
For tickets and more information, visit www.pippinthemusical.com

Check out Pippin: The National Touring Production Montage!

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2013 Tonys

#TonysSoDiverse: 70th Annual Tony Awards The Most Diverse Yet

Jazmine Harper-Davis

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I can guarantee there won’t be a #TonysSoWhite hashtag anytime soon, not with the way the current Broadway season has gone. To quote the hit Hamilton “how lucky we are to be alive right now!”

The 2015-2016 has finally come to a close and what a celebration of diversity it has been. Look no further than the 2016 Tony Award nominations to drive that point home. In the acting category alone, out of 40 nominees 14 of them are actors of color (12 black actors and actresses), however, the representation doesn’t stop there. On the creative/directorial/playwriting end we have Daryl Waters  nominated for Best Orchestrations (Shuffle Along), Paul Tazewell nominated for Costume Design (Hamilton), George C. Wolfe nominated for Best Direction of a Musical and Best Book of a Musical (Shuffle Along), Danai Gurira (Eclipsed) is the only woman playwright in her category , Liesl Tommy  for Direction of a Play (Eclipsed) , Savion Glover for Best Choreography for Shuffle Along (which will be a crime if he doesn’t win), and Brian Stokes Mitchell is to receive the Isabelle Stevenson Tony Award. Black actors make up about 30% of the nominations, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but compared to previous years, this is pretty historic. This is perhaps the largest population of Black artists and creatives to date since the Tony Awards inception in 1947.

 

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16 of the 18 African-American 2016 Tony Award Nominees

It’s also worth noting that in the featured actor and actress in a musical category, three out of the five nominees in each respective category are black men and women, and we couldn’t be more excited.

While it’s true that Broadway has a long way to go, as Jordan Roth, President of Jujamcyn Theaters, told the New York Times, ”We still have a lot of work to do in terms of the diversity of our creative teams, and I’d like to see more diversity among our producing community.” I’d say Broadway has done a great job at highlighting and exploring diversity on and, sometimes, off the stage this season, but the real question is- Going forward, can we keep it this way?

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I, for one, am super optimistic about the future, now that we’ve shown Broadway we are here, we have amazing stories that deserve to be told AND people will PAY to see them. Let’s give the people what they want. After all, they are the ones shelling out the money for the tickets. While the nominations are great, we all know the real pressure is on for who gets to take the prized award home. I’m hoping for a 2013-esq Tony Award night, (Billy Porter, Patina Miller, Cicely Tyson, and Courtney B. Vance all took home statues that season AND that was the night that gave us the Queen Audra mic drop gif, a gif that I use faithfully to this day). At the 2015 Tony’s we saw a bit of a drought with diversity, but 2016 brought the heat! The two shows leading the pack with most nominations (Hamilton and Shuffle Along), also happen to feature primarily people of color and put American history on display is such a diverse way.

I can’t wait for the day when we aren’t shocked that there are more than 14 actors of color nominated because it will have become the norm. As the great Queen of Television,  Shonda Rhimes said, we’re tired of the word “diversity,” let this be the norm. Let’s normalize Broadway. The talent is there in abundance. The stories are there. Broadway just needs to give it a chance and catch up to the rest of the world. Here’s to a “normalized” season and holding on to the hope that it won’t be the last.

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2013 Tonys

Hamilton Cast Performs Opening Number At Grammys

Broadway Black

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If you were ever in doubt as to whether Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton has taken over the pop culture consciousness, tune into the Grammys this Sunday. The smash Broadway musical will be featured during the show.

The cast is set to perform their opening number aptly titled “Alexander Hamilton.” It’s the rolling, riveting number that gives the premise of the show complete with harmonies, hip-hop crecendos and a decent bit of dancing.

If you did not know. Hamilton is a steamroller of a show outpacing many other musicals and starring a predomininatly Brown and Black cast. Deadline reported late last year that the show was ahead of the game in recouping their investment costs.

Oh did we also mention the Hamilton cast album broke on the Billboard Rap charts landing on Number 12.

The performance is expected to be shown live from the Richard Rodgers Theater in New York. Of course, love and admiration for this show is almost unparalleled. It is particularly a proud moment for people of color who are seeing Miranda continue to create moving musicals with minority cast and crew. We hope and pray he keeps blessing us with more gems, but until then watch the Grammys this Sunday and support.

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Twitter: @BroadwayBlack

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