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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

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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Events and Happenings

Surely Goodness and Mercy by Chisa Hutchinson Begins Off-Broadway

Broadway Black

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Performances begin today, Tuesday February 26th, for the New York premiere of  Surely Goodness and Mercy, presented by Keen Company. A story about an exceptional boy living a troubled life in Newark, NJ who does a good deed for an often unnoticed person.   Sarita Covington, Jay Mazyck, Brenda Pressley, Courtney Thomas, and Cezar Williams star under Jessi D. Hill’s direction.

Set in an under-funded public school in Newark, Surely Goodness and Mercy by rising playwright Chisa Hutchinson, tells the story of a bible-toting boy with a photographic memory who befriends the cantankerous old lunch lady. Against all odds, Tino and Bernadette help each other through the mess of growing up and growing old.  

Surely Goodness and Mercy has spent the last year charming audiences across the country: “Notably absent from Hutchinson’s frank and sobering story: cynicism” – Chicago Reader; “(Surely Goodness and Mercy has) a soul-stirring quality, touching audiences with its sincerity” – Daily Utah Chronicle; “it’s impossible not to like it” – The Salt Lake Tribune. Now, Keen is honored to bring this big-hearted new play to New York for the first time.

Performances for this limited Off-Broadway engagement of Surely Goodness and Mercy will continue through Saturday, April 13th only, with opening night set for Wednesday, March 13th.

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