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A Must See

World Tenors Unleashed at NYC’s Theatre at St. Jeans




From the creators of the smash concert 3 Mo Tenors, World Tenors Unleashed will debut August 6th through the 9th at The Theatre at St. Jeans in New York City. World Tenors Unleashed is a concert featuring a global lineup of ten phenomenal tenors representing five continents. They will sing sixteen styles of music including Blues, Broadway Funk, Gospel, and more in seven different languages.

World Tenors Unleashed are:

  • Matthew Hashimoto, a periodontist and singer-songwriter originally from Honolulu, Hawaii.
  • Christian Guardino,  a 15 year old from Long Island, NY who was the 2014 Grand Prize Champion of “Amateur Night at The Apollo: Stars of Tomorrow.”
  • Chaz’men Williams-Ali,  a tenor from St. Louis MO who studied Voice at the University of Iowa.
  • Phumzile Sojola, who made his Broadway debut as Peter in the Tony award-winning production of the Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.
  • Vishal Vaidyaan Indian American singer, actor, and voice teacher from the Washington, DC area.
  • Ryan Shaw  of Atlanta, Georgia who played Stevie Wonder in the original Broadway cast of Motown: The Musical and recently seen on America’s Got Talent, as previously reported.

Vishal Vaidya on Twitter

Excited to watch my boy @thisisRyanShaw on #AmericasGotTalent tonight at 8! He’s in @WTUnleashed & I’m telling you, this man is #GIFTED.

  • Victor Ryan Robertson, an American Tenor who will reprise the role of Benny with Opera Parallele in San Francisco and at the Kennedy Center’s Washington National Opera, beginning in 2016.
  • Gaston Rivero, who has worldwide recognition for his dynamic stage presence, dark timbre and wide range of flexibility. During the 2002-2003 season he joined the ensemble of Baz Luhrman’s production of Puccini’s La Boheme on Broadway.
  • Aaron Lavigne (Spider-Man and Turn Off The Dark), an actor, singer and songwriter with a BFA from Northern Kentucky University.
  • Brad Greer, an accomplished singer from the American South and a proud member of The Broadway Boys and Broadway Inspirational Voices.

Joseph Joubert (Conductor: The Color Purple, Motown: The MusicalNice Work If You Can Get It, Billy Elliot) is the Musical Director and Arranger. Joubert is a highly versatile musician who was most recently Musical Director, Arranger, and Pianist for Norm Lewis’ American Songbook and the PBS “Live from Lincoln Center” special.

Marion J. Caffey , the Creator, Director and Choreographer, has the rare distinction of also having written, directed, performed and choreographed on and for the Broadway stage (Street Corner Symphony, Mayor) . He is the current producer of the iconic “Amateur Night at the Apollo.” His work has appeared on Broadway and PBS Great Performances, and at The White House and The Kennedy Center.

The concert will be produced by the iconic and trailblazing Willette Murphy Klauser, president and owner of Edgework Productions and WMK Productions. Ms. Klausner produced  “Three Mo’ Tenors” and was on the producing teams for Broadway productions of Romeo and Juliet starring Condola Rashad, The Trip to Bountiful with Tony Award-winning Cicely Tyson, The Mountain Top starring Angela Bassett and Samuel Jackson, and Kat and the Kings.

World Tenors Unleashed is a concert packed full of stardom and is sure to be a sensational show! For more information on the show and how to purchase tickets, click here.

Nicole "Blackberri" Johnson is a freelance writer, stage/ film actress, activist and entrepreneur. Mom of three. Blackberri is also a notorious cape thief and unapologetic bacon lover. Follow on twitter @Blackberri

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A Must See

We Were There: Sojourners & Her Portmanteau

Jerrica White



[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.


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



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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