All Articles Tagged "Broadway"
Rumors were swirling for some time that Denzel Washington was returning to his first love: Broadway. Now, Denzel himself has confirmed that he’s headed back to the stage for a revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun.
The play centers a family and their shared dream to use money to achieve a better life. Though all members of the family all want to become wealthy, they each have a different way to achieve this dream. The dream eventually crumbles due to conflicting ideas, betrayal and racism.
Denzel will play the role of Walter Younger. A struggling limousine driver who desperately wants to be rich.
In the original speculative post, published by Showbiz411, actresses Sophie Okonedo and Anika Noni Rose.
Now, the same publication’s author Roger Friedman, says while no one has confirmed this, he feels in his gut that Diahann Carroll will also join the cast as Denzel’s mother Lena Younger (or Mama).
Carroll was last seen on Broadway 30 years ago in 1983.
We’ll see if Friedman’s gut feeling is accurate and if we’ll be seeing these two living legends together on one stage.
Celebs come from all walks of life. Some are born into stardom because of their celebrity parents, while others work hard to get their names known in the business. One of the ways a lot of actors get their big break is by singing and dancing on Broadway. If it weren’t for these famous faces giving their regards to Broadway way back when, we may have never seen them on the big screen.
Soulful crooner Fantasia is gearing up to hit the Broadway stage in the jazz-inspired musical, After Midnight.
Directed by Warren Carlyle, the musical is set to showcase the work of Duke Ellington’s years at Harlem’s Cotton Club.
Fantasia will be the first of many guest headliners starring in the production and is scheduled to play performances through February 9, 2014.
The last time fans saw the American Idol alum on Broadway was in 2007′s The Color Purple, in her role as Celie.
Go ahead Fantasia! She is a true testament to what a change in your mind, body and spirit can do for your life. She’s looking better than ever and her career is really starting to go in a direction we always hoped it would for her.
You can check out the rest, including opening dates for After Midnight over on Essence.com.
“I Was Terrified Of Her”: Cicely Tyson Talks Being An Understudy For Eartha Kitt On Broadway And Becoming Friends With The Icon She Once Feared
The year was 1959 and a young model and actress by the name of Cicely Tyson was taking on her first Broadway play in Jolly’s Progress as an understudy to Eartha Kitt. A whopping 54 years later and the actress just won a Tony Award this month for her role in A Trip to Bountiful. To this day, Tyson can recount her first Broadway experience like it was yesterday, and how it introduced her to one of her great friends, the late Eartha Kitt. But their friendship didn’t begin so smoothly back then as she explained to The New York Times:
“Well, it was my first. I was young in every respect. I was understudy to Eartha Kitt and I was terrified of her because she never said a word to me. She never spoke to me one time. So I just assumed she just didn’t know I was there. But I had heard stories about celebrities and their understudies and the animosity that develops between the two of them for reasons unbeknownst to me.
One day I was standing outside of her dressing room, and she was having a conversation with someone and I heard her scream, “WHO? CICELY? SHE’S FANTASTIC!” I didn’t even know she even knew my name. Later on of course we became great friends. That was my initial introduction to being on Broadway.
Now after 30 years of being away, I’m having the time of my life. I have the gift of having one of the most incredible roles ever written for a woman, especially an elder woman, and I’m just loving every moment.
Cicely and Eartha. That must have been epic. And to think that Cicely thought Eartha didn’t like her and they wound up being great friends. We can all learn from these legendary sistas!
Who knew that returning to Broadway after a 30 year hiatus would result in a Tony Award nomination?
Such is the case for the legendary Cicely Tyson. The actress has not graced the “Great White Way” since her role as “Miss Moffat” in The Corn is Green but she is now being recognized for her work in A Trip To Bountiful, which is produced by New York Knicks’ star Tyson Chandler. Miss Tyson has been nominated for “Best Actress In A Leading Role In A Play.”
Although, she’s worked on Broadway since the 1950s, this is her first nomination in any capacity according to Black Voices. The Emmy Award winner and Academy Award nominee rounds out the nominations for The Trip to Bountiful, as it has also been nominated for “Best Revival of a Play,” “Best Set Design,” and “Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play,” where Condola Rashad is nominated.
It is amazing that at age 88 (allegedly), Cicely Tyson still takes command of all her roles. As most of us know, she appears to be a permanent fixture in most of Tyler Perry’s “Madea” movies. It is also good to see a few people of color being recognized at the Tony Awards when we know it is often a “whitewash.”
Congrats to Cicely Tyson and to all the nominees!
It’s Go Time! Wendy Williams Dishes on How She’s Prepping For Her Role In “Chicago” And How She’ll Balance Life!
For seven weeks this summer, TV personality Wendy Williams will step into the spotlight and play Matron Mama Morton in Broadway’s Chicago. But before she kicks it into high gear, the former radio host and powerful media player according to The Hollywood Reporter, will host the 2013 Broadway.com Audience Choice Awards this Sunday.
ESSENCE.com caught up with Williams to chat about all things Broadway—from her upcoming debut and rehearsing to hosting this week’s fan-driven annual audience awards ceremony in New York City.
What she’s excited about when she hosts the awards show:
I love award shows where there are tables. I’ve never been to one, but I watch on TV—the Golden Globes—it just looks like everyone’s having a good time eating, drinking, having casual conversations at tables with friends, while going up to accept awards. I love that. So, I’m really excited to razzle dazzle the crowd with entertaining and hosting duties and sitting at the table with my glam squad, who I also adore.
How’s she’s prepping for her role as Mama Morton:
I start vocal lessons in two weeks and then we start rehearsals in three weeks. It’s something I wanted to do because I need to know how to change my voice. Even though my voice has been my money-maker my whole career from radio and now to TV, talking in regular tones for an hour on a talk show is easy. But I don’t want to test it by screaming on Broadway, where you have to talk a little bit louder. Then of course the singing number—I want to give it my all and that will mean perhaps blowing a vocal cord so I want to know how to pace myself to make sure that my voice is optimum.
How she’ll balance Chicago, her talk show and family life:
I will make it work. I’ve got cooperation with all the people around me, thank God—from my parents to my son, my husband and my staff. Every last intern, my producers, everybody understands that this is a great opportunity; I’m going to be doing it. But I’m also going to be counting on everybody to step up to the plate and do their part and I promise that I will step up to the plate and continue to do my part.
There have been many successful black Broadway productions, including the latest “Motown: The Musical,” produced by the legendary record label’s founder, Berry Gordy. It has numerous received Tony Award nominations.
While it may seem that Broadway has gotten more diverse, behind the scenes it is far from it. Throughout the years there have been many African-American hit TV shows but the number of African Americans producing and making business decisions on Broadway has not been significant, reports The Root.
There of course have been many successful producers of plays that run off-Broadway, such as Vy Higginsen, the first black female writer, producer, director of the longest-running, Off-Broadway musical in the history of American theater with “Mama, I Want to Sing.“ The Root, covering this subject, fails to mention her in the piece, but she went on to become the first black woman to produce a drama on Broadway with “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” by August Wilson. And Tyler Perry got his start mounting plays on the so-called “chitlin’ circuit.” He has yet to mount a Broadway production.
“We’re probably the only African Americans on Broadway who hands-on produce, choose the project, director, etc.,” said Stephen Byrd told The Root. Byrd was speaking of himself and his producing partner, Alia Jones. Together thy run a company called Front Row Productions, which is responsible for such Broadway hits as “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” featuring an all-star black cast of Terrence Howard, Phylicia Rashad and James Earl Jones in the 2008 production of the Tennessee Williams classic.
Though rare, the history of black Broadway producers and productions goes way back. “The first Broadway show created by African Americans and featuring an all-black cast was Clorindy, or The Origin of the Cake Walk in 1898,” reports The Root. Author and poet Paul Laurence Dunbar and composer Will Marion Cook created it and it featured performers of color. Yet it still required a white producer, Edward Rice, to actually make it to the stage.
The lack of opportunities for blacks behind the Broadway scenes remains a major problem, despite the successes on the stage–even with productions targeted at mainly black audiences. According to the Wall Street Journal, ”Motown: The Musical” “grossed more than $1 million at the box office last week, the third week in a row it has done so. It is rare for an original musical opening cold on Broadway — without a prior, out-of-town engagement or transfer from London’s West End — to see such strength at the box office during the first three weeks of previews before an opening.” The show has mainly targeted black audiences.
Byrd claims it is hard for blacks to break into Broadways’ production ranks. “It’s an old boys’ network,” he said. “For instance, three family organizations own most of the Broadway theaters. So, ‘if you don’t get a theater, you could end up all dressed up with nowhere to go,’” writes the website.
Jones and Byrd have been working to diversify the world of Broadway producers. For their current Tony-nominated production The Trip to Bountiful, starring Cicely Tyson, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Vanessa Williams, behind-the-scenes players include publicist Marvet Britto, music mogul Kevin Liles and New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler and his wife Kimberly, who are lead producers, which means they made a substantial investment in the show’s development and long-term production.
According to Byrd, producers can invest anywhere from $10,000 in a production, though $25,000 and above is usually the standard.
Guess Who’s Coming To Broadway? Wendy Williams To Play Matron Mama Morton In “Chicago” (Would You Pay To See It?)
Wendy Williams is out here winning, ya’ll. We told you not too long ago that more episodes of her talk show were ordered to go into summer because of all the success the show is having with an increasing viewership, but now Williams is taking her mouth to Broadway to star as Matron Mama Morton in the Broadway production of Chicago. According to the Huffington Post, Williams will get to sing “When You’re Good To Mama” for the production, and will do the show for seven weeks. But for fans of the talk show host who are wondering, it doesn’t seem that her participation will impact her shooting schedule for The Wendy Willliams Show. And because of that, she seems very excited about it all.
“I’m so excited to sing and dance while still doing the talk show. It’s going to be a very busy summer around here.”
If you’ll recall, this role is the one that helped Queen Latifah garner an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in 2002 when the play was made into a major motion picture film (it would also win Best Picture). But then again, we know that Queen Latifah is a pretty talented singer, but is Williams? Has anybody ever heard her sing for that matter? The role will also require some dancing too, and after being the second contestant voted off of her Dancing With the Stars season in 2011, we’ll have to wait and see if she’ll surprise everybody and shut the Broadway stage down. Either way, it’s a good look for her.
If you’re interested in watching her strut her stuff as a Broadway actress, she’s slated to start her time as Mama Morton in the show on June 25-August 11.
What do you think about Williams playing Mama in the show? Is she a good fit?
Tony Award nominee Condola Rashad will star opposite Orlando Bloom in a new Broadway run of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, but this time the bitter divide between the Montagues and Capulets will be underscored by their different ethnicities.
Five-time Tony nominee David Leveaux will direct the staging, also set to feature Jayne Houdyshell (Follies) as Juliet’s Nurse, and Joe Morton (Raisin) as her father, Lord Capulet, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The production will begin previews August 24 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, with official opening set for Sept. 19. Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy was last presented on Broadway in 1977.
Check out the details of this modern project on Eurweb.com.
Good news for New York thespians. According to a new report, minority actors are finding more and more jobs on Broadway. The percentage of minority actors working on the Great White Way and at the top 16 not-for-profit theater companies in New York City rose to 23 percent during the 2011-2012 season, reports The Grio. Still, even with the boost in numbers, white actors on Broadway continue to be over-represented.
Here’s the breakdown: African-American actors were cast in 16 percent of all roles, Hispanics in three percent and Asian-American actors in three percent, found The Asian American Performers Action Coalition in its annual report on ethnic representation on New York stages. Yet Caucasians filled 77 percent of all roles.
“Black actors increased their representation by 2 percent compared to last season, while Hispanics stayed the same as last season, and Asian-Americans saw their numbers tick up by 1 percent,” writes The Grio.
Although the growth has been slow, there has long been an African-Amerian presence on the Great White Way. In 1903 the first Broadway musical written by African Americans, and the first to star African Americans, In Dahomey, hit theaters. Vinnette Justine Carroll (Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope) in 1972 became the first African-American woman Broadway director. And Phylicia Rashad became the first African American to win Broadway theater’s Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play in 2004 for her performance in “A Raisin in the Sun.”