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Shonda Rhimes Makes L.A. Theater Crossover

Montez Jennings

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Shonda Rhimes is crossing over to the theater. The queen of television dramas had decided to back the LA based IAMA Theatre. Rhimes has provided the theater with a grant that will not only contribute to future works but the Rhimes Unsung Voices Playwriting Commission. The purpose of the grant is to grow the Los Angles theater community. The theater is young and encourages writers to develop new work. It is also focused on cultural inclusion with a focus on new, thought-provoking work.

IAMA Theatre is a 9-year-old non-profit ensemble of artist passionate about theater and capturing new audiences. Their mission:

By promoting new artists and developing new works that challenge and entertain, we hope to produce vibrant, voyeuristic theater that stimulates honest dialogue and sustains the future value of theater within our diverse Los Angeles community.

The company has previous connections with Rhimes’ production company, Shondaland with shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal. Rhimes has gained herself IAMA’s first “Patron of the Arts.” Rhimes decided to fund the organization because in her words,

“Their productions made me finally feel the way one does when exploring the New York Off-Broadway world of theater. Fresh voices filled with creativity. And they’ve accomplished it all on a shoe-string budget. That ends now.”

IAMA is grateful for the fund, labeling Rhimes as a trailblazing story teller and a “champion for underrepresented voices.”

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Renee Elise Goldsberry Will Leave Hamilton; Netflix Series Next

Andrew Shade

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Tony Award winner Renee Elise Goldsberry will leave her award-winning role as Angelica Schuyler in the record-breaking Broadway musical Hamilton: An American Musical. It has yet to be announced who will replace her or when her final performance will be. However, according to the Hollywood Reporter, she will depart this fall to film and star in new Netflix series Altered Carbon, a show inspired by the Richard Morgan novel.

Goldsberry has been seen on Broadway in the original cast of The Color Purple, The Lion King, and portrayed Mimi in the final company of RENT. She is also a two-time Daytime Emmy Award nominee for her work on the soap opera One Life to Live.

This announcement comes on the heels of several other big Hamilton updates. Leslie Odom Jr. and other cast members performed their last show last week, Brandon Victor Dixon and others were announced as replacements, Daveed Diggs announced his departure just a few hours ago, & the cast of the Chicago cast of Hamilton was announced today as well. Whew! So much is happening over at Hamilton. It’s an emotional rollercoaster on and off the stage for sure.

It’s a little crazy to think that so soon after The Tony Awards all of the Tony-winning actors have left the show but we’re really not mad at them, WERK!!

The hit musical, Hamilton, won 11 total Tony Awards this year, including best musical, direction of a musical (Thomas Kail), best actor in a musical (Leslie Odom Jr.), best score (Lin-Manuel Miranda), best book of a musical (Lin-Manuel Miranda), best featured actor in a musical (Daveed Diggs), and best featured actress in a musical (Renée Elise Goldsberry). Also won a record number of technical awards including best orchestrations (Alex Lacamoire), best costume design (Paul Tazewell), best choreography (Andy Blankenbuehler), and best lighting design (Howell Binkley).

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Wait For It: Hamilton Announces Brandon Victor Dixon & More as New Leads!

Tristan Halstead

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And now a sigh of relief.

Upon Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom, Jr., and Phillipa Soo’s departure on July 9th, producer Jeffrey Seller announced our new Hamilton leads:

Shuffle Along’s Brandon Victor Dixon and Lexi Lawson will take the roles of Aaron Burr and Eliza Hamilton.

Current alternate Alexander Hamilton, Javier Muñoz, has already been announced to take on the role full time. Invisible Thread’s Michael Luwoye will also join the cast, performing as the alternate Hamilton.

This past season, Dixon received a Tony nomination for his performance in Shuffle Along, which recently announced a premature closing for this month. He has also appeared in The Scottsboro Boys, Motown the Musical, and the original Broadway production of The Color Purple. He’ll officially step into the role mid-August.

Music artist Lawson previously toured in Miranda’s first musical hit In the Heights as Vanessa and Rent as Mimi. She has also appeared on “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance.” She starts performances July 11th.

Luowye recently received a 2016 Lucille Lortel nomination for Invisible Thread.

Hamilton currently plays at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.

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The Next Hamilton Is On The Horizon! Who Could It Possibly Be?

Tristan Halstead

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UPDATE: 6/16/2016- It has been confirmed that Javier Muñoz will, indeed, be taking over the role of Alexander Hamilton after Lin-Manuel Miranda takes his final bow (for now) on July 9th! Read below who also might be in the running somewhere in the Broadway run.

Twas the week before Tonys,
And all through Broadway,
Not a creature was stirring…

Until we finally received the impending announcement most of us have been dreading:

Lin-Manuel Miranda is leaving Hamilton.

That’s right, folks, the Tony Award-winning actor will take his final bow as Alexander Hamilton on July 9th. Yes, we’re all pretty shocked about this news, even though we all knew this day would come. But let’s be real, the guy’s had a huge year. He wants to create new work, he has a son to raise, you can’t blame him for wanting to take a… take some time to himself. I refuse to use any of those puns.

If your departure from your musical, for which you have three Tony nominations, is getting press from every outlet from the “New York Times” to “Rolling Stone,” and the world reacts, you had to have changed the musical theatre game in a massive, paramount way.

But just you wait (damn it!). Think of all of the many projects we can look forward to within the next few years! He’s officially tapped to co-star in Disney’s “Mary Poppins” sequel alongside Emily Blunt, “Mary Poppins Returns”; he’s writing music for Disney’s upcoming animated picture “Moana,” which may help him snag an Oscar, thus earning him that EGOT status; and early work for the long-awaited In the Heights film adaptation, now with The Weinstein Company after years in development Hell with Universal, will finally begin.

He’ll also probably oversee more Hamilton-related work on the US tour, London transfer, and first-ever musical production in Antarctica or something.

And if you think his leaving may somehow impact your chances of scoring a golden ticket to this Pulitzer/Grammy/future-Tony winner, fear not, my child. You’re still not getting tickets without selling an arm, a kidney, your newborn child, taking out a second mortgage, or forgoing a trip to Europe. Hell, can we talk about the fact that his final performance is currently going for $10,000 a ticket?

So, now that we’ve settled that, here’s who Broadway Black would like to see don the blue coat:

Javier Muñoz – Munoz may be the obvious choice, as he currently performs as the alternate Hamilton on select weekend performances. He also understudied and later replaced Miranda as Usnavi during In the Heights.

Corbin Bleu – This former Wildcat just announced a return to Broadway in Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn. He made his Broadway debut as another replacement (and might I add, phenomenal) Usnavi, and later played Jesus in Godspell and Seaweed in the Hollywood Bowl production of Hairspray.

Mos Def – Yasiin Bey has numerous film, television, and theatre credits to his name, including his Broadway debut in Suzan-Lori Parks’ play Topdog/Underdog.

Saul Williams – Williams recently appeared on Broadway in the ill-fated Tupac Shakur musical Holler If Ya Hear Me, alongside current Hamilton cast-member Chris Jackson.

Patina Miller – This leading lady recently scored a Tony Award for her dark turn as the Leading Player in the cirque-themed revival of Pippin. I think she’d make a fabulous Hamilton, or even Aaron Burr, as he’s essentially Hamilton‘s “Leading Player.”

Common – While many found his acting questionable in “The Wiz Live!” (I thought he was adorable), who’s to say he wouldn’t be able to brilliantly capture the nuance and swag that the tomcat Hamilton exudes?

Jussie Smollett – Smollett attempted some rapping in the hit musical television show “Empire.” Perhaps he could bring his talents to Broadway.

Renée Elise Goldsberry – She’s currently “work, work”-ing it as Angelica Schuyler, for which she’s nominated a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical, but what’s stopping her from possibly moving on from one fierce role to gender bending another (Lena Hall as Hedwig, anyone?).

Drake – Or as I know him, Aubrey Graham, or better yet, Jimmy Brooks of “Degrassi” fame. He did get his start in the long-running Canadian teen drama show, after all. And most of us know this wouldn’t be the first time he’s played a character who gets sh…. Yeah… moving right along…

Queen Latifah – I mean, come on. She could tackle either Hamilton or Washington and I’d believe it. #queen4ham

TBH, they wouldn’t have to cast a big name in any of the roles to bring in an audience to this behemoth. But rest assured Lin, to whomever you pass the torch, A.Ham is in good hands.

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Events and Happenings

Leslie Odom Jr. Gives Surprise Concert In Central Park!

Alicia Samuel

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This morning, Tony-Winner Leslie Odom Jr. (we just love saying that!) posted an impromptu invitation to an acoustic concert in Central Park to his Twitter! With more than 1k favorites and 224 retweets, we’re sure it was an awesome time!

This comes just a couple days after his promotional appearance on Bravo’s “Watch What Happens Live” with Andy Cohen where the Broadway star discussed everything from his new self-titled jazz album, which is number one on the ITunes Jazz chart, to his thoughts on the insane cost of Hamilton tickets.

Take a look at some clips from the his appearance on WWHL here!

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First Look: Audra McDonald’s Adorable Baby Bump!

Alicia Samuel

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Today, we got a first look at Audra McDonald’s adorable little baby bump in the Shuffle Along cast welcome video to The Color Purple’s new Shug Avery, Heather Headley! In the video, posted to Shuffle Along cast member Christian Dante White’s Instagram, Audra can be seen at the end welcoming Heather to 45th st., joking about their history together and giving a peek at her expecting belly as she promises to catch Headley in The Color Purple on her maternity leave!

HAPPY FIRST TWO SHOW DAY TO @heatherheadley from @shufflealongbroadway

A video posted by @christiandante on

 

Yesterday, she hit us with the very exciting announcement that her and husband, Will Swenson, are expecting a little bundle of joy!

McDonald, who was originally set to take a brief break from the hit Broadway musical Shuffle Along Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed to perform her Tony award winning Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill in London’s West End, has not yet announced her updated show schedules since the news of her pregnancy broke. We can hardly contain ourselves here at Broadway Black as we await the birth of Broadway royalty! And we wish Queen Audra a happy and healthy pregnancy filled with pizza and Reese’s Peanut Butter cups!!!

UPDATE: Heather Headley responds to the warm welcomes from the cast of Shuffle Along and also has some words in return to Audra! It is a magical moment we know you’ll want to hear!

To the cast of @shufflealongbroadway. You’re way too sweet. Thank you.

A video posted by Heather Headley (@heatherheadley) on

And to our #ladyday herself….@audramcdonald

A video posted by Heather Headley (@heatherheadley) on

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Celebrity Takeover

Lupita Nyong’o Wins April Fool’s Day With Prank On Eclipsed Broadway Cast

Andrew Shade

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I am still crying tears of laughter as I write this. You have to watch this new video of Lupita Nyong’o, currently starring on Broadway in Eclipsed, as she pranks her castmates. I would never have guessed that she was this funny! It takes a special kind of person to be able to pull off an unexpected April Fool’s prank and Lupita proves once again just how special she really is. This is HE-LARRY-US! Watch the entire video we found posted to her Facebook below as she allows each cast member (and a stage manager) try her specially made truffles. You’ll never guess what’s inside. HAHAHAHAHAHA!

You win April Fool’s Day, Lupita! Thank you for this!

Lupita Nyong’o, Saycon Sengbloh, Pascale Armand, Akosua Busia, and Zainab Jah play the roles written by playwright and actress Danai Gurira. Zombiephiles may know Gurira from her groundbreaking role as the sword-wielding Michonne on AMC’s “The Walking Dead” series.

The play, set in 2003 near the end of the civil war in Liberia, is about the survival and resilience of a group of women who are captives of rebels fighting the government. Nyong’o, who made her Academy Award-winning screen debut in “12 Years a Slave,” stars in the role of “Girl,” the youngest of four captive wives of a rebel commander.

Eclipsed seeks to promote empowerment through telling the true story of African women in the midst of struggle— the Liberian civil war. Experience the power of women exposed. Experience the joy within a struggle. Experience the reality that war is real and desperately needs to be stopped. Experience the power of women. Get your tickets now HERE

 

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