Tuesday night at the esteemed theatre on Astor Place, otherwise known as the Public Theatre, celebrations ensued at the opening of Toast by Lemon Anderson. Award winning poet and playwright had two reasons to celebrate that night, his birthday and his show! Toast, which was first presented at the Under the Radar festival at the Public, weaves through the prison narrative in folklore style. Headed up by Broadway Veteran and a Broadway Black fave, Keith David who plays legendary inmate Dolomite. David is accompanied on stage with cellmates Phillip James Brannon (Annabelle Jones), Dan Butler (Sheriff Jody), Teddy Cañez (G.I. Joe), Hill Harper (Hard Rock), John Earl Jelks (Stackolee), Jonathan Earl Peck (Hobo Ben), and Armando Riesco (Jesse James).
We are sure Toast is a show you don’t want to miss! Directed by Andersen’s County of Kings collaborator, Elise Thoron, this Public Lab run that began with previews on April 21st only has a week left in its run. This compelling tale that takes place inside Attica prison during the 1971 uprising will show you the layers of the colored man and inside the mind of life in prison. How do you keep yourself from losing it that is.
Back in 2013, we were there for the premiere reading and Keith David, along with the rest of the cast floored us! (Read the article HERE ) Still don’t believe us maybe this blurb about the show will get you excited:
“Willie Green a.k.a. “Dolomite,” the famous Folklore hero from the old Black Narratives, is still known as the baddest badass out of San Antone, but he’s aged and has been locked up for murder in Attica’s D-Block for the last 27 years. Word is brewing throughout Attica that a riot is coming, but Dolomite and his cellmates would rather not get involved until the youngest inmate in D-Block gets a vicious beating by the officers for demanding better prison conditions. Does Dolomite join the riots and take vengeance upon the officers for what they did – or lock himself in his cell and hope for a promised parole date and the chance to taste freedom? The word “toast” is actually an art form of reciting poetry based on characters and situations driven from the Black Experience, mostly told and performed in the prisons, Bars and pool halls of America. The play honors this poetic form and brings its heroes like Stackolee, Jesse James, Voodoo Queen, Hard Rock to the stage.”
Toast is running now through May 10th at the Public Theatre. Tickets can be purchased by calling (212) 967-7555 or visiting publictheater.org
Brennyn Lark, Allison Semmes, & More Featured in Darkness RISING: Live 2! A Mental Health Benefit Concert
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! 💜🙌🏽✊🏽
Erika Dickerson-Despenza Addresses Flint Water Crisis with Cullud Wattah
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