All Articles Tagged "Broadway"
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.”
People always have a lot of shade to throw at former Destiny’s Child members not named Beyonce but there’s one that always seems to be working.
Michelle Williams is on her way back to the stage in yet another acting role. Playbill has confirmed that she’s been added to the national tour of the phenomenal musical, “Fela!”Williams will play the character of “Sandra” in the musical which will begin at the end of January in Washington, D.C., and play in 16 cities, ending in Oakland, CA.
Miss Michelle is no stranger to acting. After Destiny’s Child parted ways, she took on the lead role in Aida and also played Shug Avery in the national tour of The Color Purple. The acting stage has become more of a first home for her over the singing stage in the last few years.
In a statement, she said:
“I am thrilled to join the cast of Fela! This musical journey is one that I’ve wanted to be a part of since first seeing it on stage in 2008. The sounds, the passion and the politics of Fela Kuti have long intrigued me and speak to my heart. I am simply honored.”
That’s wonderful news for her! If Fela! comes to or close to your city, you should check it out. It’s so exciting and fun while telling the story of a revered man and they love audience participation. It is a wonderful experience.
“When one door closes, another one opens” is probably a philosophy that actress Vanessa Williams is well acquainted with these days. Last month we reported that ABC made the decision to pull the plug on her television drama 666 Park Avenue due to the show’s plummeting ratings, which sort of left the actress unemployed. Luckily for Vanessa, she’s a hot commodity who rarely goes without a gig for too long.
According to The Grio, the 49-year-old actress has just been signed to star in a Broadway play entitled “The Trip to Bountiful” alongside Cicely Tyson, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Condola Rashad. The play, which will be directed by Michael Wilson is referred to as the “revival” of two-time Oscar winner, Horton Foote’s original play, which explores the topics of acceptance and returning home. The play made its Broadway debut in 1953 and was turned into a film in 1985. What is interesting is that similar to A Streetcar Name Desire, this play is being sort of redone by African American actors that will star in roles that have traditionally been played by White actors.
USA Today is reporting that Cuba and Vanessa will be playing the son and daughter-in-law of Cicely, who’s role is that of an elderly woman who is seeking to revisit her small hometown in Texas.
“The Trip to Bountiful” will only be on Broadway for a limited time, fourteen weeks to be exact. Previews will begin March 31, 2013 at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre and is scheduled to open April 23, 2013.
This is great news. It’s great to see how Vanessa Williams always bounces back and I am excited to Condola Rashad progressing in her career as an actress. She did such an amazing job in Steel Magnolias.
What do you think of Black actors and actresses starring in remakes of plays and movies that originally had predominately White casts? Willing you be going to see the play once it opens in April?
And no, we’re not talking about that one street in your city that is Broadway, but the Great White Way in NYC. The real Broadway, which has brought you classic plays like “RENT,” “Les Miserables,” “FELA!” and other classics just might be bringing you the hilarity that is the “Trapped In The Closet” saga, brought to you by the R-uh.
While at a screening in NYC to showcase the newest episodes and twisted plotlines of “Trapped In The Closet” earlier this week, which debut on the IFC channel on Black Friday, R. Kelly said that he had been offered the opportunity to possibly take his characters and storytelling to the big stage, and he says, “To transform it into a Broadway version, that’s what I’m working on.” According to CBS News, R. Kelly will also appear in a few performances, and he says that he had always wanted to act, so doing “Trapped In The Closet” allowed him the chance to do so:
“I’m just having a lot of fun. I don’t have a job, so I sit in the studio all day and think of stuff to do and this is just something stupid I’ve done that’s been successful for me,” he said. “I’m having a lot of fun with it.”
And according to Rolling Stone, you’re probably going to have fun watching the newest episodes in what they and Kelly call his “hip-hopera.” The plotlines include everything from characters with HIV, folks fighting against a mob boss, and a pimp (ya’ll remember Lucius) trying keep his business going. And if these new episodes aren’t enough for you, I’m sure you will be geeked to know that Kelly says he has more than 50 new chapters coming and he’s ready to milk this cow and drive this car until the wheels fall off. Yay.
As he said to reporters after the screening, according to CBS News:
“I want everybody to know I’ve got 85 chapters of ‘Trapped in the Closet’ waiting in the studio for y’all,” he said. “The chapters that are coming – the show, we call it – is going to exceed every chapter that you have ever seen.”
As entertaining as these short opuses of rachetness are, I just truly can’t see “Trapped In The Closet” as something to take seriously on Broadway, especially since there is climactic ish going on every five minutes: “I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S A MAN!” OH MY GOD IT’S A MIDGET!” “OH MY GOD IT’S A RUBBER!”–and on and on and on. But it’s clear that the people like what R Kelly is serving in his interesting form of storytelling, and we know there will be more colorful shenanigans that somebody will pay to see if it ends up on Broadway for real. Question is, would you be one of those people paying to see “Trapped In The Closet” on Broadway?
Love was definitely in the air Saturday night as actress Audra McDonald wed her longtime love, Will Swenson, who is also an actor.
According to PEOPLE.com, the couple, who has been together since 2007, were married at their home in Croton-on-Hudson, New York. The background was likely picturesque; Croton-on-Hudson is a small town in Westchester County that dons beautiful views from almost any angle. While the details have mostly remained private (Audra’s always been pretty quiet about her relationships), we do know the bride wore a dress by Esosa.
This will be the second marriage for both and they each have children with their exes. Audra has an 11 year old daughter named Zoe while Will has two sons, 11 year old Bridger and 8 year old Sawyer. The Mr. and Mrs. Swenson call the kids their “wee posse of three.”
The couple planned this wedding in the midst of both of them being very busy with their roles on Broadway. Audra left television show Private Practice last year to move back to New York to be with her daughter full-time and ended up landing the role of Bess in the revival of Porgy and Bess. For his part, Will was in Priscilla: Queen of the Damned where he played a drag queen – yes, honey – named Tick. His next role is a little less dramatic; he’s in a play called Murder Ballad opening in November.
Congrats to the happy couple!