In 1965, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Council set their sights on Selma, AL as the stomping ground for voter registration reform. Twenty-four years later, Selma The Musical took the stage at New Federal Theater to tell the story of the civil rights leaders that inspired its very existence. Tommy Butler, the show’s creator, wrote the book, music and lyrics and then turned to his community to help tell the story.
This 1978 musical not only put black history in the spotlight, the creative team itself featured makers of history. Cornelius A. Tate, Selma’s musical director, has a long list of Broadway credits. This list includes the infamous Hair, a show that gave him the title of being the first Black musical director on Broadway. The accomplishment is well deserved considering Tate led the cast of Selma through a demanding score that cast a light on the pain and injustice throughout Black history.
Selma is unapologetic in its critique of race relations during the Cvil Rights Movement. It uses the same painful language that ran ramped alongside hoses and hounds in Alabama streets. This musical served as a wake-up call. It shook the critics of its day and introduced new performers to voice the frustrations of inequality. Tommy Butler, the shows creator, starred in the musical alongside a collective of newcomers. Denise Erwin, Susan Beaubian, Carton Williams and Ernie Banks led the cast in songs calling for justice, equity and peace. A cry we can still hear from our community.
Selma The Musical was a show that asked the obvious in the most honest way it knew how. The voices who deny the existence of injustice will call Selma “unfinished” and “archetypal.” I invite you to reflect on the events that brought this musical to fruition, the limitations we are still overcoming, and the necessity of telling the difficult stories in our history. The show’s original cast recording can be found on Apple Music. New Federal Theater, where the show saw its debut, continues to release productions that question the justice and equity that is denied to Black people in America. You can view their upcoming projects.
Off-Broadway Hamilton Spoof Spamilton Cast Recording Out Now
Spamilton, the off-Broadway parody of the musical phenomenon Hamilton, released a cast album on DRG Records last week.
The cast recording features original Spamilton cast members Dan Rosales, Nicholas Edwards, Juwan Crawley, Chris Anthony Giles, Nora Schell, with special guest stars Christine Pedi and Glenn Bassett, and Music Director Fred Barton on piano.
The show, created by Forbidden Broadway creator Gerard Alessandini, celebrates and roasts Broadways golden musical, but also features outrageous references to Gypsy, Chicago, The King And I, Assassins, Camelot and Sweeney Todd.
Not only are the stars of the original cast of Hamilton comically roasted, but they are joined by “caricatures of living Broadway legends the likes of: Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald, Stephen Sondheim, Stephen Schwartz, Barbra Streisand, Bernadette Peters and many more beloved icons”, even Beyonce.
Spamilton began previews at The Triad (158 West 72nd Street) on Tuesday, July 19, 2016 and opened on September 8 to rave reviews. The show most recently celebrated its 200th performance on February 19, 2017, and it was announced a second Spamilton company began a sit-down production at Chicago’s Royal George Theatre this month.
Dreamgirls Original London Cast Recording Gets an April Release Date
So, you can’t make it to London anytime soon? No worries! The West End production of the five-time Olivier nominated Dreamgirls has announced an April 14th release date for its original London cast recording.
Sony Classical will release the highly-anticipated cast album in a stunning new double-disc recorded LIVE at London’s Savoy Theatre.
Directed by Casey Nicholaw, with book and lyrics by Tom Eyen, the album, produced with Olivier-nominee and composer Henry Krieger, captures the on-stage exhilaration of the original London cast, the 14-piece band, and the audience.
This cast album features Olivier-nominees Amber Riley and Adam J. Bernard as Effie White and James “Thunder” Early, respectively, Liisi LaFontaine as Deena Jones, and Ibinabo Jack as Lorrell Robinson, with Joe Aaron Reid as Curtis Taylor Jr, Tyrone Huntley as C.C. White, Nicholas Bailey as Marty, and Lily Frazer as Michelle Morris.
The company also includes Michael Afemaré, Jocasta Almgill, Callum Aylott, Hugo Batista, Samara Casteallo, Chloe Chambers, Carly Mercedes Dyer, Joelle Dyson, Kimmy Edwards, Candace Furbert, Nathan Graham, Ashley Luke Lloyd, Gabriel Mokake, Siân Nathaniel-James, Sean Parkins, Kirk Patterson, Ryan Reid, Rohan Richards, Noel Samuels, Durone Stokes, and Tosh Wanogho-Maud.
Pre-order now on Amazon.
And if you just so happen to make it to London in the near future, purchase tickets at Dreamgirls West End.
The 9 Classic Hip-Hop References In Our Beloved Hamilton Musical
A famous rapper once said, “If ya don’t know, now ya know.” (If you didn’t know that was the NOTORIOUS B.I.G., shame on you!). The website Genius (formerly known as Rap Genius) has made waves for being one of the leading websites in decoding lyrics for just about any song (though I’m still having trouble with determining if Lloyd is saying ” 5’2 ” or “fine too”). What makes the site that much cooler is that it allows users to annotate lyrics which helps decode the meaning or provide context for a certain line. In fact, Lin-Manuel Miranda set aside time to annotate a few lyrics from the Hamilton Cast Recording last year.
To take it a step further, Genius recently released a video called “9 Classic Rap References In Hamilton” where they compare clips of Hamilton The Musical and the classic rap songs that inspired its inception. Some of the comparisons will be familiar to anyone with a basic knowledge of the 90’s Hip-Hop era. I mean who didn’t know that the “10 Duel Commandments” came from ”Ten Crack Commandments” by the Notorious B.I.G.? In fact, Biggie makes quite a few appearances on the recording. Other tracks by the late rapper include “Going Back To Cali,” echoed in Hamilton’s “My Shot,” and the track “Juicy,” in “We Know.” But it doesn’t just stop there, the show also includes nods to Jay Z, DMX, Busta Rhymes and Mobb Deep as well. Proving even further this is truly a hip-hop musical through and through, it’s not a mockery, it’s an inclusion of the genre. And we love every bit of it.
(A bonus one, while it’s not a hip-hop song, “Helpless” has a bit of Beyonce inspired “Countdown” in it, and I live!)
Check out the video below! Did you catch all the references? Are there more that Genius didn’t get? Sound off below.
The hit Broadway musical deliberately nods to Biggie, DMX, Jay Z, and other hip-hop heavyweights. http://genius.com/albums/Lin-manuel-miranda/Hamilton-original-broadway-cast-recording Subscribe to Genius: Genius on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Genius Genius on Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/geniu.s Genius on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Geniusdotcom http://www.genius.com
iTuned In: The Color Purple Cast Album
The first time I saw the musical version of The Color Purple I think I was on a date. I say think because through some seating mishap I was placed on one side of a row between two strangers while my beau was all the way at the other end. In hind sight, that was a good thing. The transformative performances of the cast and the music were so powerful I remember crying uncontrollably by intermission. And those strange ladies and I were all holding hands and exchanging tissues. Not good dating etiquette. But that is the power of musicals.
The other gift of musicals is the cast album. While an amazing play can leave you gasping for air, a great musical has you singing and annoying people on the A train all the way back to Harlem. (An unfortunate true story.)
So I was more than a little jazzed to learn that the revival of The Color Purple, which premiered last week at the Bernand B. Jacobs Theatre, announced that a cast album will be recorded this week and released via Broadway Records.
This latest version of Purple brings Grammy and Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson to the Broadway stage. This woman has not met a medium she can’t tackle. She takes on the complicated role of “Shug Avery.” Might I also opine that Broadway is the sweet spot for a person with that powerful a voice. “Orange is the New Black” star Danielle Brooks takes over the role as “Sophia.”
And then there is Cynthia Erivo as “Celie.” All I can suggest you do is watch her and Ms. Hudson perform the title song to the musical in this official music video for the show.
The Color Purple has gone through its own transformations first as the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by author Alice Walker, to the acclaimed and controversial film directed by Steven Spielberg.
And then the film version’s Sophia, an unknown named Oprah Winfrey put her strength into pushing a Broadway production of Purple in 2005. The story is all about black women and their strength against odds and circumstances that would kill most of us dead.
The revival of Purple premiered at the Jacobs Theatre Dec 10th, 2015. To see what Broadway Black thought of the show click here. The cast album is set for a January 29th release date. But…you can pre-order the music now. And click here to order your tickets to The Color Purple now.