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Shuffle Along Shuffles To Find Tony Category

Broadway Black

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This week was filled with excitement and drama for some of our favorite and new favorite productions.

The top news, of course, is what the heck to call Shuffle Along.

Michael Paulson of the “New York Times wrote about the controversy over what to label this musical starring the transcendent Audra McDonald. Is it a revival or a new musical? The problem with being considered new is competing with favorites like Hamilton for the 2016 Tony Awards. Spoiler: It’s a New Musical.

Of course, we were there for the opening of Shuffle Along, which in the midst of battling for a category, just happens to be a phenomenal show.

Meanwhile, The Royale continues to be a critics darling snagging a Special Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble and a nomination for Outstanding play, when the Drama Desk Award nominations were broadcast this week.   The play already won a John Gassner Award when the Outer Critics Award nominations were announced.

Whorl Inside A Loop seems to be slowly trudging its way to the Broadway Stage. We reported just this week that the show is getting a private “industry” reading, which could be a step towards the Great White Way. This is good news for many of the amazing actors in the cast including Derrick Baskin , Nicholas Christopher , Ryan Quinn , Daniel J. Watts , and Donald Webber Jr.,as well as newcomer to the cast Tyrone Davis Jr. 

And lest we forget how this week began – with drama. Oh ya’ll remember when a particular “fan” tried to call our Cynthia Erivo for having the audacity to be tired after a performance of singing, dancing and riveting a crowd. The “fan” had a very interesting POV about the role of performer and audience member. So you know we had to weigh in on that madness.

Here’s to another week of good drama and amazing theater.

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Events and Happenings

Nicolette Robinson, Leslie Odom Jr., & Cynthia Erivo Sign On to Produce Witness Uganda

Drew Shade

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It’s official! Tony Award winners Cynthia Erivo (The Color Purple) and Leslie Odom, Jr. (Hamilton), along with his wife Nicolette Robinson (Waitress) have joined on as producers for the biographical contemporary musical Witness UgandaAbigail Spencer of Hulu’s Timeless has also joined this list of new producers

Formerly Insivible Thread, Witness Uganda has currently extended its West Coast premiere until March 3rd at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. Creators Griffin Matthews and Matt Gould take on the roles of director and musical director respectively. The show has added new material and musical numbers since it’s Off-Broadway run at Second Stage Theater.

Based on a true story, Witness Uganda follows Griffin, a New York City-based American volunteer, as he arrives in Uganda to help build a village school and escape his church’s condemnation of his sexuality. When he falls into a complicated relationship with a group of destitute, orphaned teenagers, he finds himself driven by a mission that will change his and their lives forever. From the rolling hills of the Ugandan countryside to a stifling apartment in New York City, from a joyous celebration of African youth to a terrifying abduction 8,000 miles away, Witness Uganda explores the question, “is changing the world even possible?”

The musical stars twelve-time Grammy nominee, Ledisi as Rain Lady/Church Lady, Hamilton alum & Off Book Podcast co-host Amber Iman as Joy,  and original cast member of Invisible Thread Jamar Williams now takes on the role of Griffin.

READ: Ledisi, Amber Iman, Jamar Williams & More Star in Witness Uganda West Coast Premiere

The cast also features Emma Hunton (Ryan), Kameron Richardson (Jacob), Naärai (Grace), Sha’leah Nikole (Eden), Dexter Darden (Ibrahim), Jordan Barrow (Ronny), Jai’len Josey (Vocalist/Understudy for Rain Lady/Church Lady) and Antwone BarnesKennan D Washington and Thurzday holding down the ensemble.

The creative team is rounded out with choreography by Abdur-Rahim Jackson, music supervision by Remy Kurs, sets by Connor MacPhee, lighting by David Hernandez, costumes by Carlton Jones, and sound design by Martin Carrillo.

For more info visit Witness Uganda

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Events and Happenings

Iconic Entertainer Gregory Hines Honored With a Black Heritage Series Stamp

Drew Shade

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Savion Glover; Maurice Hines, Gregory’s brother; and Daria Hines, Gregory’s daughter Photo courtesy of USPS

The U.S. Postal Service honored iconic entertainer Gregory Hines with a Black Heritage Series stamp in a ceremony on January 28th. As the 42nd entry in the series, the stamp featuring a 1988 photo of a smiling Hines is now available at Post Offices and usps.com. 

At the ceremony Tony Award winner Savion Glover talked about the role Hines played in elevating tap into an art form and the value of his work. Joining him in the celebration were Maurice Hines, actor, dancer, choreographer, and Hines’ brother; Daria Hines, actress, costume designer, and Hines’ daughter; dancers Chloe and Maud Arnold; Tony Waag, the American Tap Dance Foundation’s artistic director, and tap dancer Jason Samuels Smith.

“I don’t exist without this man,” said Glover, “These young people that you see, they aren’t born without this. We are not here today without this.”

The Chief Postal Inspector, Gary Barksdale, who led the ceremony, said “Gregory Hines was an extraordinary artist in every sense of the word. This Forever stamp pays tribute to his life and career as an actor, singer and most importantly, as a performer whose unique style of tap dancing injected new artistry and excitement into a traditional American form.”

Gregory Hines’ Broadway credits include Eubie!, Sophisticated Ladies, & Comin’ Uptown,  all of which garnered him Tony Award nominations. He became a Tony Award winner for his starring role in “Jelly’s Last Jam” in 1992. In 2003 he passed away at 57 years old from cancer.

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