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Exclusive Behind The Scenes: Morgan James, Shoshana Bean, & Alex Newell Rock Jesus Christ Superstar Concert

Jerrica White

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Alex Newell played “Mary” in a one night only concert of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Jesus Christ Superstar, produced by Torya Beard, Morgan James, and Richard Amelius, Monday, at Highline Ballroon at 8:00PM (doors open at 6:00PM).

Illuminating the transcendent power of the human spirit, the Superstar Concert starred Broadway favorites Morgan James (Motown: The Musical, Godspell) as “Jesus” and Shoshana Bean (Hairspray, Wicked) as “Judas.”

Speaking to the genius of the cross-gender casting, James said:

Jesus Christ Superstar has always been one of my favorite shows, favorite scores; and I always wanted to know what it would be like to hear my favorite voices sing those roles. In fact, I had a dream about it and woke up desperate to make it happen.

And it happened. Some of the best and brightest voices you’ll ever have the pleasure of hearing. So, just imagine hearing them all together. We were scooped away on a journey. View our exclusives of the evening below.

All photos courtesy of ©Kevin Thomas Garcia

Big Beat Records recording artist Alex Newell is best known for playing the transgender student Wade “Unique” Adams on the Fox musical series Glee. As a singer, Newell released tracks with Clean Bandit, Blonde and The Knocks. “This Ain’t Over” is the first track on his 2016 debut EP entitled POWER. We’re excited to see his take on Mary in this highly anticipated production following a series of events so universally known.

Morgan James (Jesus) Original Broadway Casts: Motown: The Musical, Godspell (“Turn Back O’ Man”), Wonderland, The Addams Family. On Epic Records: debut studio album of original soul music entitled “Hunter”; and live Nina Simone tribute album, “Morgan James Live.”

Shoshana Bean (Judas) Her independent solo releases have topped the iTunes R&B and Blues charts in the US and the UK in peak positions 5, 3 and #1 with the release of her latest EP Shadows to Light. Shoshana is a veteran of the Broadway stage having debuted in the original cast of Hairspray and starred as the very first replacement for Elphaba, the green-skinned witch, in Wicked.

The cast of 13 singers performed the complete score, with accompaniment by a 5-piece band. directed by Richard Amelius and musically directed by Julie McBride will take on musical direction.

 are Tony Award winner Debbie Gravitte as Caiaphas, Tony Award nominee Orfeh as Pontius Pilate,  Pearl Sun as Peter, Bryonha Marie Parham as Annas, Shayna Steele as Simon, Ellyn Marsh, Sydney Morton, Pearl Sun, and Jasmin Walker as Apostles, Crowd, Lepers, etc., and Ann Harada as King Herod.

Check out our experience from last night below! We had a blast with exclusive access backstage stage brought to you by Drew Shade! 

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Events and Happenings

Brennyn Lark, Allison Semmes, & More Featured in Darkness RISING: Live 2! A Mental Health Benefit Concert

Drew Shade

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Brennyn Lark

Join the Black Broadway community tonight, April 8th, as they perform inspirational cover songs at Darkness RISING: Live 2. The concert benefits Darkness RISING Nonprofit, an organization founded by Carlita Victoria, focuses on mental wellness in the Black community. Audience members will enjoy songs of hope from a range of genres: musical theatre, pop, R&B, and gospel under the musical direction of David Rowen of David Rowen Creative.

Darkness RISING Nonprofit is a mental health project with the goal of inspiring conversations about mental health, and helping to create access to mental health resources in the Black community in an effort to tell our stories and erase the stigma. The project was created as a means of Carlita facing her personal struggles with anxiety, depression, and PTSD. African Americans are 20% more likely to have serious psychological distress than other Americans. The project includes a newly released album on iTunes, a visual album on YouTube, live concerts, and free wellness workshops.

The event will be held at the Knitting Factory Brooklyn at 7 pm (doors open at 6:30pm) Located at 361 Metropolitan Ave in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The evening will include vendors, raffle prizes, a silent auction, and a full bar. $20 In advance, $25 At the door $40 VIP includes: Wristband, free drink, premier seating, swag bag, cast meet & greet. The show will be hosted by Broadway Black’s Drew Shade.

Tickets can be purchased at bkknittingfactory.com.

The cast features soloists:

Brennyn Lark, (DREAMGIRLS WEST END, LES MISERABLES BROADWAY)

Liisi LaFontaine (DREAMGIRLS WEST END, THE WINNER IS ABC)

Allison Semmes (MOTOWN BROADWAY, BOOK OF MORMON)

Gabrielle Reid (BEAUTIFUL THE MUSICAL, HAIRSPRAY BROADWAY, THE COLOR PURPLE NATIONAL TOUR),

Kris Roberts (BEAUTIFUL THE MUSICAL, FAME NATIONAL TOUR),

Jasmin Richardson (GETTING THE BAND BACK TOGETHER, THE BODYGUARD NATIONAL TOUR)

JoNathan Michael (DREAMGIRLS INTERNATIONAL TOUR, FAME NATIONAL TOUR)

Cedrina Shari (BONEY M),

Anita Welch (AVENUE Q NATIONAL TOUR)

Gerard Williams (JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR at North Carolina Theatre)

Nattalyee Randall (ROCKTOPIA)

Tamala Baldwin (DREAMGIRLS at NSMT)

Darkness RISING Founder, Carlita Victoria (HAIRSPRAY at Paramount Theatre).

The ensemble features Vlad Dorson, Valton Jackson (HALFTIME at PAPERMILL PLAYHOUSE), Ashley Jeudy (SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER at IVORYTON PLAYHOUSE), Nichollette Shorts (PHOENIX RISING), Sheniqua Trotman (DREAMGIRLS at IVORYTON THEATRE), David LaMarr (LITTLE MERMAID at TUACAHN), and Tatianna Mott (AVENUE Q at SMITHTOWN PAC).

Band memebers include: Ian Jess (Bass), Mark ‘Lace’ Gibbs (Guitar), Quinton Robinson (Drums), and David Rowen (Piano/Musical Director)

Darkness RISING: A Mental Health Awareness Project is sponsored, in part, by the
Greater New York Arts Development Fund of the New York City Department of Cultural
Affairs, administered by Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC) and Fractured Atlas. For more info: darknessrisingproject.org. Follow: @darknessrisingproject.

 

 

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🌟 ALL STAR CAST 🌟 These amazing vocalists will be performing at Darkness RISING live 2. You will not want to miss this performance on April 8th. Link in bio for tickets. _____ Monday 4/8 7pm Knitting Factory Williamsburg _____ $20 in advance $25 at the door _____ $40 VIP: + Swag Bag + Premier seating + Free drink + VIP photo + Wristband + Cast meet & greet This event is made possible by @nyscouncilonthearts, administered by @bkartscouncil. _____ #promo #rise #Riseup #discount #dontmissout #nyc #nycevents #eventscalendar #livemusic #livesingers #inspirationalmusic #thingstodoinnyc #benefitconcert #musicheals #Brooklyn #citylife #knittingfactory #nightlife #nycnights #BroadwayBlack #mentalhealth #mentalhealthawareness #mentalhealthmatters #Blackmentalhealth #DarknessRISING

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As someone who does their best to rise up every day in spite of depression & anxiety, mental healthiness, access to resources, and conversations particularly centering Black people are important to me. The @darknessrisingproject is doing the good work and I’m honored to be hosting their next benefit concert to further bring awareness and support for those in need. Join #broadwayblack along with some of Broadway’s finest voices April 8th, 2019 7 PM @knittingfactorybk to be uplifted and encouraged and also support the awesome organization that is @darknessrisingproject! 🔗 Link on bio for tickets! Thank you, @itscarlitav for your tireless efforts! What you’re doing is so important and necessary! That is #broadwayblack! 💜🙌🏽✊🏽

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Events and Happenings

Erika Dickerson-Despenza Addresses Flint Water Crisis with Cullud Wattah

Drew Shade

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Playwright Erika Dickerson-Despenza

There is limited seating left for Erika Dickerson-Despenza’s new play CULLUD WATTAH at The Public Theater. Opening today, Thursday, March 7th and running until Sunday, March 10th in the Public Studio is about three generations of Black women living through the current water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

“It’s been 936 days since Marion’s family has had clean water. When local activists file a class action lawsuit against the city, Marion—a third-generation employee at General Motors—must decide how best to support her two daughters, sister, and mother while lead seeps into the community, their home, and their bodies. As corrosive memories and secrets rise among them, the family wonders if they’ll ever be able to filter out the truth.”

2018 Relentless Award Semifinalist and poet-playwright makes her Public Theater debut with CULLUD WATTAH directed by Lilly Award winner Candis C. Jones; the cast includes Deonna Bouye (Marion), Alana Raquel Bowers (Reesee), Caroline Stefanie Clay (Big Ma), Nikiya Mathis (Ainee), and Kara Young (Plum).

The creative team includes Production Stage Manager Gregory Fletcher, Stage Manager Priscilla Villanueva, and Movement Director Adesola Osakalumi. Along with scenic design by Arnulfo Maldonado, Costume Design by Ntokozo Fuzunina Kunene, lighting Design by Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew, and sound design by Megan Culley

We believe in this work so much we’re giving away 4 tickets to the performances on March 10th. 2 tickets to the matinee and two the evening performance thanks to our founder Drew Shade and actress/playwright Jocelyn Bioh. Go to our Instagram to find out how!

Also, find out more about how you can help the Flint Water Crisis and support this show HERE.

Listen to Erika talk about her work on an episode of Off Book Podcast below

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