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West End Production of Dreamgirls Eyeing a Broadway Run

Jazmine Harper-Davis

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Featured Image: Brinkhoff Mögenburg

According to the New York Post, the current West End production of Dreamgirls, directed and choreographed by Tony winner Casey Nicholaw (Aladdin, Something Rotten), could head to the Great White Way.

Reports say that West End producer Sonia Friedman intends to bring the production to Broadway as early as next season.

The cast of the London production includes “Glee” and “The Wiz Live!” star Amber Riley as Effie White, with Liisi LaFontaine (Deena), Ibinabo Jack (Lorrell), Joe Aaron Reid (Curtis Taylor Jr), Tyrone Huntley (C.C White), and Adam J. Bernard (Jimmy Early) rounding out the other principal roles. Marisha Wallace, a Nicholaw favorite cast as Effie in the Dallas Theater Center production of Dreamgirls last summer, serves as Effie alternate.

The West End premiere of Dreamgirls began previews at The Savoy Theatre in London on November 19, 2016, and officially opened on December 14 to rave reviews. Most recently the run extended through October 17, 2017.

Dreamgirls features music by Henry Krieger and a book and lyrics by Tom Eyen. The musical first premiered on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre, officially opening on December 20 and then closing on August 11, 1985, after 1,521 performances.

The musical earned a total of 13 Tony Award nominations in 1982. It won 6 of them, including “Best Book of a Musical”, “Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical” (Jennifer Holliday), “Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical” (Ben Harney), “Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical” (Cleavant Derricks), “Best Lighting Design” (Tharon Musser) and “Best Choreography” (Michael Bennett and Michael Peters).

It’s been 30 years since the musical last appeared on Broadway, after a short-lived Broadway revival at the Ambassador Theatre in 1987 and two national tours. Not to mention, this production would surely make us feel a tad better about the Broadway Black Purge of 2016.

Still, we’re over the moon to head across the pond and check out the revival soon. Purchase tickets here if you can’t wait for the Broadway revival.

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Across The Pond

Michaela Coel Stars in London-based Musical “Been So Long” Film Adaption

Broadway Black

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Michaela Coel, creator, writer, and star of the BAFTA award-winning Netflix original series, “Chewing Gum”, stars in the London-based musical “Been So Long,” a film adaptation based on the 2009 stage musical by Ché Walker and Arthur Darvill.

Coel plays Simone, a young single mother charmed into a magical night in the city by a handsome stranger with a questionable past- played by Arinzé Kene (One Night in Miami). This modern day love story set in London’s “musical hot-bed” of Camden Town promises a soundtrack with a mix of RnB, Nu Soul and UK dance, as well as music from guest producers.

Coel is joined by an all-singing and all-dancing cast that includes George Mackay (“Captain Fantastic), Ronke Adekoluejo (“Chewing Gum”), Ashley Thomas (“24”), Joe Dempsie (“Game Of Thrones”), Luke Norris (“The Duchess”), Rakie Ayola (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) and Mya Lewis (“Olaf’s Quest”). It is Directed by BAFTA award-winner Tinge Krishnan (“Junkhearts”) and produced by the BAFTA-nominated Nadine Marsh-Edwards (“Bhaji on the Beach”) and Amanda Jenks (“The Girl”) of Greenacre Films.

Courtesy of Film Constellation

Filming began earlier this year, shortly after season 2 of “Chewing Gum” was released on Netflix, and while she is making waves as a comedienne, Coel admits she is a stranger to musicals. However, Coel is no stranger to the stage and is quite theatrically and musically inclined having performed her one-woman show Chewing Gum Dreams in various theatres across London (2012-2014) before turning it into the hit series we know and love. She also wrote and recorded six of the tracks from season 1 of “Chewing Gum,” including the theme song.

Still, of singing and dancing on screen Coel shares, “It is a big stretch for me…I’ve never done anything like this in my life. It’s either going to be really amazing or just like, ‘What the f–k was that?’” (Screen Daily).

Either way, we’re rooting for her and can’t wait to see her on the big screen.

“Been So Long” made its rounds at the Cannes Film Festival in May and is set for international release in 2018. “Chewing Gum” season 3 is yet to be confirmed.

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Across The Pond

Marisha Wallace Leads The Color Purple as Celie in London Benefit Concert

Jazmine Harper-Davis

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Marisha Wallace

Marisha Wallace, currently the alternate Effie in Dreamgirls in London, will star as Celie in a new one-night-only concert performance of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical The Color Purple at London’s Cadogan Hall, May 21st at 6:00 P.M.

The concert staging will raise funds for the British Theatre Academy, a unique performing arts program that has inspired and nurtured the talent of thousands of young performers who cannot afford to train in performing arts. The evening will also feature a chorus of over 40 current British Theatre Academy participants.

Based on the novel by Alice Walker, The Color Purple tells the inspiring and unforgettable story of a woman who, through love, finds the strength to triumph over adversity and discover her unique voice in the world.

The musical features a book by Marsha Norman, and music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray.

Last seen in London at the Menier Chocolate Factory, directed by John Doyle and starring Tony-Award winner Cynthia Erivo, the production later transferred to Broadway and earned the 2016 Tony for Best Revival of A Musical.

In addition to Wallace as Celie, the cast of the benefit concert includes Wendy Mae Brown (Ghost) as Sofia, Cavin Cornwall (London’s Aladdin) as Mister, Tyrone Huntley (Dreamgirls) as Harpo, Rachel John (The Bodyguard) as Shug, Hugh Maynard (London’s Miss Saigon) as Pa, and Seyi Omooba (Junkyard) as Nettie.

The performance, produced by Matthew Chandler and Danielle Tarento, features musical direction by James Taylor and choreography by Mykal Rand.

Tickets now on sale.

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