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The Secret Life of Bees Is Now a Musical; Will Star LaChanze, Saycon Sengbloh, & More Off-Broadway

Drew Shade

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LaChanze Photo via Facebook

The New York Times bestselling novel and the critically acclaimed feature film is now becoming a musical! The Sue Monk Kidd classic is coming to the Atlantic Theater Company. Saycon Sengbloh (Eclipsed, Wicked) will star as Rosaleen, a Black caretaker who runs away with Lily, played by Elizabeth Teeter (The Audience, The Crucible), to uncover the mysteries surrounding Lily’s mother’s death.

LaChanze (The Color PurpleSummer: The Donna Summer Musical) will play beekeeper August Boatwright, with Eisa Davis (Kings) as June, Manoel Felciano as T-Ray, Lily’s abusive father, Brett Gray (On My Block) as Zach, and Anastacia McCleskey (Waitress) as May.

South Carolina, 1964. Lily Owens, a restless white teenager, struggles with her merciless father and the haunting memory of her mother’s death. When Rosaleen, her black caregiver, is beaten and jailed for asserting her right to vote, Lily’s rebellious spirit is ignited. She and Rosaleen escape on an adventure where they are taken in by a trio of black beekeeping sisters. While Lily tries to unlock the secrets of her past, she and Rosaleen find solace in the mesmerizing world of bees and spirituality in this extraordinary tale of awakening, fellowship, and healing.

The ensemble will include Jai’Len Christine Li Josey (Spongebob, Witness Uganda). Romelda Teron Benjamin, Joe Cassidy, Vita E. Cleveland, and Matt DeAngelis.

Set to begin previews May 12, 2019, with an official opening Off-Broadway June 13th, and eyes on a Broadway transfer, The Secret Life of Bees features music by Duncan Sheik, Lyrics by Susan Birkenhead, and a book by Lynn Nottage and will be directed by Sam Gold. Performances are scheduled to run through July 7.

The Secret Life of Bees was a 2008 American drama film directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood and produced by Lauren Shuler Donner and Will Smith, with his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, as executive producer. The cast included Dakota Fanning as Lily Owens, Jennifer Hudson as Rosaleen, Queen Latifah as August Boatwright, Alicia Keys as June Boatwright, and Tony Award winner Sophie Okonedo as May Boatwright

Founder/Editor-In-Chief of BroadwayBlack.com | Actor | Artist | 1/3 of @OffBookPodcast | Theatre connoisseur | All Audra Everything | Caroline over Change | I'm Not Charl Brown | Norm Lewis is my play cousin | Producing an all-black production of Mame starring Jenifer Lewis in my head

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Cast List

Shoshana Bean Will Return To Broadway In Waitress

Drew Shade

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Now, this may seem off-kilter but trust me, it’s not. The producers of Broadway musical Waitress have announced today that Shoshana Bean will take over the role of Jenna on March 18 and will be in the show through May 12, 2019.

Shoshana Bean is a treasure. Her vocal ability and overall presence is a gift that keeps on giving.  She was last seen in concert with Cynthia Erivo at The Apollo Theatre and also slaying all the tracks with Mykal Kilgore on the new Songs for a New World remake album. Her latest album Spectrum landed her at #1 on the Billboard Jazz Charts & she made her Broadway debut in the original cast of Hairspray and starred as the first replacement for Elphaba in Wicked. Most recently in the theatre, she appeared as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl and as Cee-Cee Bloom in the new musical adaptation of Beaches.

Shoshana Bean said, “I am thrilled to be coming back to the New York stage in such a special role and show! To get to tell this beautiful woman’s story and sing this extraordinary score is an honor.”

Waitress tells the story of Jenna, a waitress and expert pie-maker who dreams of a way out of her small town and rocky marriage. Pouring her heart into her pies, she crafts desserts that mirror her topsy-turvy life such as “ The Key (Lime) to Happiness Pie” and “Betrayed By My Eggs Pie.” When a baking contest in a nearby county — and a satisfying run-in with someone new — show Jenna a chance at a fresh start, she must find the courage to seize it. Change is on the menu, as long as Jenna can write her own perfectly personal recipe for happiness. 

Shoshana will take over the role of Jenna from Stephanie Torns and joins Charity Angél Dawson as Becky & Lenne Klingaman as Dawn. Find out more at waitressthemusical

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Cast List

Adrienne Warren Will Star In Tina The Tina Turner Musical On Broadway

Drew Shade

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Adrienne Warren as Tina Turner in the West End cast of TINA Photo by Manuel Harlan

Adrienne Warren Photo by Ted Ely

As previously reportedTina the musical about the iconic entertainer Tina Turner will be headed to Broadway this fall. Announced today, Adrienne Warren who currently stars in the production on The West End through April 13, 2019, will reprise her role for the upcoming Broadway production.

Also released today, the first single from the upcoming Tina – The Tina Turner Musical cast album, featuring Adrienne Warren performing the iconic song “River Deep – Mountain High”. Warren is featured on an accompanying music video of the single also released today. Watch the video below.

“Working on this show has been a life-changing experience for me. Tina’s unshakable courage, grace, and determination have been our constant inspiration, and I am honored to have had the opportunity to be part of this telling of her story. It has been an amazing year in London, working with the incredible Phyllida Lloyd, Katori Hall, and the creative team, in a city that has welcomed me with open arms. Returning home to Broadway, in this role and in this show, is a dream come true”. – Adrienne Warren

Tina Turner in the rehearsal room for TINA Photo by Hugo Glendinning

“I’m so proud of everything that Adrienne has achieved over the last year in the West End. She has given it everything she’s got, she has poured her soul into it, and she deserves every success. I am thrilled she will be reprising her role in New York, and I cannot wait to see her on that Broadway stage on Opening Night.” – Tina Turner

Dates, venue, and additional casting for Broadway will be announced at a later date

The musical features the original discography of Turner with a book written by Katori Hall (The Mountaintop) with Frank Ketelaar and Kees Prins and directed by Phyllida Lloyd

The creative team also includes choreography by Anthony van Laast, with set and costume designs by Mark Thompson, musical supervision, additional music and arrangements by Nicholas Skilbeck, lighting by Bruno Poet, sound by Nevin Steinberg, projection design by Jeff Sugg and orchestrations by Ethan Popp.

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