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A Must See

Taye Diggs’ Hedwig Debut is a Hit

Broadway Black

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When you step into a pair of high heels, you better be sure you know how to sashay your way around in them and when you’re Taye Diggs and you’re slipping on heels previously worn by Neil Patrick Harris, Michael C. Hall, and Darren Criss, the stakes are much higher than those heels. As everyone knows by now, Diggs made his debut as the latest transgender heroine of Broadway’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch on July 22.

As we previously reported, Diggs, who first appeared on Broadway in Rent, is the first African-American to take on the transgender rock singer role. This will be the first time audiences have seen Diggs on the stage since he starred in 2005’s A Soldier’s Play.

There has been some discussion that Diggs’ portrayal of “Hedwig” contributes to the emasculation of African-American men. The list of Black male performers who have cross-dressed in roles is long and has had some accusing these performers of perpetuating racial stereotypes.

Comedian Dave Chappelle, who refused to wear a dress while filming “Blue Streak” with Martin Lawrence, once told Oprah Winfrey that “I don’t need no dress to be funny,” and suggested that Black male performers who cross-dressed for roles had negative effects on the black male image.

However, for Diggs, Hedwig is a role that he told the New York Times “is everything I’ve ever wished for.” He further added that he’d told his ex-wife Tony-winning actress Idina Menzel “‘I want a chance to show everybody everything. I can dance and I can sing, and everybody knows I can act.’ ’’

Judging from the reviews and reactions he’s gotten from social media, it’s a chance he won’t regret taking.

Debut performance – Sold Out!

Nice start Mr. Diggs ⭐️ #NewDiggs #HedwigOnBway

3,748 Likes, 47 Comments – HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH (@hedwigonbway) on Instagram: “Nice start Mr. Diggs ⭐️ #NewDiggs #HedwigOnBway”

RG @tayediggsinsta fans waiting outside the Belasco after Taye’s sold out debut performance in #HedwigOnBway

3,400 Likes, 35 Comments – HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH (@hedwigonbway) on Instagram: “RG @tayediggsinsta fans waiting outside the Belasco after Taye’s sold out debut performance in…”

https://instagram.com/p/5e-0eEr33E/?taken-by=hedwigonbway

“Flawless, intense and devilishly funny….”

・・・ #Repost @tpbosh ・・・ @tayediggsinsta was absolutely phenomenal tonight at Hedwig! Flawless, intense, and devilishly funny. What a great night! #HedwigOnBway #hedwigandtheangryinch #broadway #nyc #tayediggs #sosogood Thanks! Love all of you!

2,170 Likes, 14 Comments – HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH (@hedwigonbway) on Instagram: “・・・ #Repost @tpbosh ・・・ @tayediggsinsta was absolutely phenomenal tonight at Hedwig! Flawless,…”

After the show

No words to describe how impressed I am by @tayediggsinsta. #HedwigOnBway was amazing! So proud. Can’t wait till you all see it!!! So good to hang in nyc with my peeps…photo cred @willmalnati #murderinthefirst

5,136 Likes, 31 Comments – Emmanuelle Chriqui (@echriqui) on Instagram: “No words to describe how impressed I am by @tayediggsinsta. #HedwigOnBway was amazing! So proud….”

“UNBELIEVABLE”

Alex Robertson on Twitter

@HedwigOnBway WAS UNBELIEVABLE

“One glistening mofo”

Keith Livingston on Twitter

@TayeDiggs is one glistening mofo. He added a new flavor to @HedwigOnBway. #TheFlavorIsChocolate #MoreShowsNeedIt

Jess Hoffert on Twitter

I laughed. I cried. I got spat upon by @TayeDiggs. You’re a gem, @HedwigOnBway. Thanks for the epic night.

You can see Diggs in Hedwig at the Belasco Theatre, 111 W. 44th St. New York, New York 10036. For ticket information visit HedwigBroadway.com.

#Repost @nicolebridgeford ・・・ #NationalLipstickDay 💄💄💄💋💋💋💋💋🍰🍰🍰#HEDWIG #tayediggs

A photo posted by Taye Diggs (@tayediggsinsta) on

#Repost @jasorude ・・・ I need answers 💀😩 #TayeDiggs

A photo posted by Taye Diggs (@tayediggsinsta) on

#Repost @sladeny ・・・ First and only time I’ve ever taken a pic in a theater but HOLY SHIT I HAD TO.

A photo posted by Taye Diggs (@tayediggsinsta) on

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  1. Pingback: Brandon Victor Dixon & Capathia Jenkins Shine In Broadway Legacy

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A Must See

We Were There: Sojourners & Her Portmanteau

Jerrica White

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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Playwright, educator, opera singer, and Queen, Mfoniso Udofia has two plays running at New York Theatre Workshop. *pause* TWO PLAYS. In the SAME season!?!? *ends congratulatory gasp* Sojourners and Her Portmanteau are performed in repertory, as two chapters of Udofia’s sweeping, nine-part saga, The Ufot Cycle.  Admittedly, before researching each show, I didn’t know the definition of either word; and in the spirit of keeping it consistent with the honesty, I didn’t like either play. I loved them.

Sojourners

Minimalism seems to be the name of the game these days.  I sat down to a completely black stage, sans a multimedia display lodged on the ceiling at a 45-degree angle.  Clutching my all white program and bobbing my head to the ‘70s pop rock pre-show music, I prepared my heart for the story of Sojourners, well at least that was the plan.  The stage begins to rotate and we meet Abasiama (Chinasa Ogbuagu) and Ukpong (Hubert Point-Du Jour), Nigerian expatriates sojourning in Houston, Texas with the plan to start a family, earn their degrees, and go back to Nigeria until life happens.

Charming and handsome, Ukpong becomes defined by his leather jacket, shoulder work and shimmy which match the fascination and yearning for freedom that illuminates his eyes every time he talks of peace, protest, and Prince–all shaping his view of 1970s America, and consequently, the American Dream.  But does leather compensate for grit? Is a movement or vibe really a panacea for disappointment, aimlessness, and a need to find yourself?  Abasiama enters the play pregnant, purposed, and outfitted in pieces of Nigerian garb, grounded in duty showing a stark contrast to Ukpong who floats in desire.  What’s lost in your household is found elsewhere, and this is when we start to see, and root for, Abasiama’s transformation from timid to tenacious.

Enter Moxie (Lakisha May), a colorful prostitute turned protector and friend.  There is a mutual respect despite great differences between her and Abasiama, with their love for one another creating moments that make you believe in the beauty of humanity.  Enter Disciple (Chinaza Uche), another warm and determined hearted immigrant who has come to the United States to study, rounding out the timely additions of love, support, and security when Abasiama needed them the most.

Through and through this is Abasiama’s story and she glows.  Her kindness, her sisterhood, her strength, her worthiness, and the realization of her American Dream, guide her decisions—which is the catalyst behind the entire Ufot Cycle.

Her Portmanteau

Her “portmanteau”, or red suitcase, makes a return as 30 years have passed.  Abasiama now has two daughters, one raised in America and the other who has come from Nigeria to reconnect with her family.

This is a good moment to mention that each story is informed by the other, but can certainly stand alone on substance, content, and the amazing direction of Ed Sylvanus Iskandar.  The staging is exciting and deliberate, while minimal, putting the full focus on the tension and growth to be expected of a family reunited after a substantial amount of time and distance.

Chinasa Ogbuagu returns to the stage, this time as the American-born daughter, Adiagha Ufot, Adepero Oduye as Iniabasi Ekpeyoung (Ukpong and Abasiama’s daughter), and Jenny Jules as the mother, Abasiama Ufot.

Seated on a couch in Adiagha’s small New York Apartment, no amount of preparation readies your mind and spirit to form the words to make up for 30 years of life, connection, and memories missed.  We’re taken on a ride of resentment, hurt, love, and forgiveness, as the portmanteau is literally unpacked.  We watch the teeter-tottering between offense and defense as one sister tries to assimilate into American culture, and the other attempts, albeit stubbornly, to fall in formation in honoring a family she shares blood with, but little time or tangible history.

It’s powerful to see a story of history and continuing a legacy despite lost time, faulty promises, and difficult choices explored with an all-woman cast as far too often the idea of legacy is framed in patriarchy.  Jules admirably takes Abasiama through the fire to heal, to feel, and to fix her family.  The narrative allows us to empathize and understand the struggle that comes with upholding family values versus cultivating a space to achieve personal dreams and happiness.

Her Portmanteau (and Sojourners) is written in a way that finds your soul, gently massaging it with humor, while leaving it with very real questions.  I’ve never felt a greater need to binge read nine stories and simultaneously study the story of my own family tree. I left changed. I left wrapped in the strength of my mom and my mom’s- mom’s sacrifice.  I left pensive and with seeds of future forgiveness planted.  I left changed.

For capturing our hearts with wit and with truth.  For putting Black women at the center of a poignant narrative.  For unapologetically telling a story you haven’t seen told and telling it in the way you want it to be told.

We thank you Mfoniso.  We thank you.

Have you seen the #duetplays? Sound off in the comments below![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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A Must See

Our Story in 2 Plays for 1 Price: Mfoniso Udofia’s Sojourners & Her Portmanteau

Jerrica White

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Last winter, we reported on Sojourners by playwright Mfoniso Udofia, a new play about a Nigerian family who has come to America with the goal of earning a college education, starting a family, and returning to Nigeria. But not without the twists and turns that come along with every plan that seems straightforward.

Image result for Sojourners and Her Portmanteau

Thanks to New York Theatre Workshop, we get to relive this moment and continue the dialogue, decades later, with Her Portmanteau. Performed in repertory, these two chapters of Udofia’s sweeping, nine-part saga, The Ufot Cycle, chronicle the triumphs and losses of the tenacious matriarch of a Nigerian family.

Ed Sylvanus Iskandar directs the two-part story in association with The Playwrights Realm, who premiered Sojourners last winter in a limited engagement world premiere production. Her Portmanteau also received the 2016 Edgerton Foundation New Play Award grant.

The cast includes Jenny JulesLakisha Michelle MayAdepero OduyeChinasa OgbuaguHubert Point-Du Jour, and Chinaza Uche.

As if that wasn’t enough to get excited about, we have an exclusive deal for our Broadway Black readers!

Our Story in 2 Plays for 1 Price!

Yes. That’s two shows for one price! The discount code BWYBLACK will take 50% off tickets to ANY performance(s) if purchased by May 15th! 

Go ahead and grab your tickets. We have ours!

Sojourners and Her Portmanteau plays at NYTW until June 4th.

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Twitter: @BroadwayBlack

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