All Articles Tagged "Broadway"
First there was Jennifer Hudson. Then there was Heather Headley. And now, veteran Broadway performer Jennifer Holliday, best known for her role as Effie White, in the iconic Dreamgirls play will be joining the cast of the Tony winning revival of The Color Purple. And like Hudson and Headley, Holliday will play the role of Shug Avery.
Holliday will be joining the cast on October 4, as Headley will end her run on October 2.
In a press release, Holliday said, “I was deeply moved by this truly uplifting production of The Color Purple and I am highly honored and absolutely thrilled to be joining this extraordinary cast. Nothing compares to performing before a Broadway audience and I can’t wait to return to the Broadway stage, where I started my career over 35 years ago.”
The director of the production, John Doyle, “There is a rich and significant legacy to the line of women who have been part of The Color Purple, and I am very honored and excited to work with another major actress as she assumes one of its iconic roles. I am very taken with Ms. Holliday’s approach to the character of Shug and I look forward to sharing how her integrity and experience will enrich this production of The Color Purple.”
We’ll be really interested to see what she does with this role.
On June 19, the Tony-nominated play Eclipsed played its final performance on Broadway. Written by Danai Gurira, who fans of The Walking Dead know as the beloved sword-wielding character Michonne, and starring Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o, Saycon Sengbloh, Zainab Jah, Pascale Armand and Akosua Busia, Eclipsed tells the story of five extraordinary Liberian women, “wives” of a rebel officer who are brought together during the country’s second civil war. Fusing art and activism, Gurira and her play made all kinds of history on Broadway this season. Read on for secrets behind the making of Eclipsed.
With more and more shows featuring culturally and racially diverse casts, The Great, White Way is seeing many more actresses and actors of color. MadameNoire got to sit down with some of these talented folks from both The Lion King and Aladdin.
See what they had to say in the video above.
We told you about Eclipsed a few months ago after the production sold out many shows before it made its way to Broadway earlier this month. The production tells the story of five Liberian women brought together by the country’s second civil war.
What makes this production so unique is that not only does it star five women of African descent, it was also written by Danai Gurira (“The Walking Dead”) and directed by a woman, Liesl Tommy, a native of Cape Town, South Africa. The show is literally making history. The closest thing anyone has ever seen would be the 1975 production of Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls; but even that was directed by a man. Tommy says it’s important that women are at the helm. “In order to affect change both here and in Hollywood, we need to recognize our ability to lead, have a vision and be entrusted with big budgets and large staffs.”
Interestingly enough, even the behind the scenes funding is coming from Black women as LaLa Anthony, Alia Jones-Harvey and Marvet Britto serve as producers for the show. Anthony said this of her involvement, “I wanted to align myself with a project that was powerful and sparked meaningful conversation across the board. I think it’s amazing, necessary and important for Broadway to continue to support multicultural plays for audiences to enjoy.”
These phenomenal ladies, the main cast of five women, Lupita Nyong’o, Pascale Armand, Akosua Busia, Zainab Jah, Saycon Sengbloh and director Gurira recently graced the cover of Uptown Magazine to explain why it was so important that they be a part of telling this story.
Check out a few highlights from their interview.
Lupita Nyong’o on being drawn to Eclipsed:
“I was first cast as the understudy in the role I’m playing now so it was the very first role I under-studied and it was the very first role that I was assigned to at Yale. I was just drawn. I thought it was an incredibly engaging and riveting story and I was just dumbfounded that I never experienced anything like it before — five African women telling their stories and each of the women are so distinct from the other one. And it was so funny and also heart-breaking at times. It was just a very powerful story.”
Nyong’o on Making History:
“I’m very proud to be part of a milestone of a production that is all female…and to be a part of a production like none other that has been on Broadway and is also changing the narrative of what is possible on Broadway.”
Danai Gurira on why telling stories like Eclipsed are important:
“That for me is really the most important thing, the exposure of these voices. Honestly, the reason why I write what I write is because it’s kind of inexplicable the silence and the lack of representation around these types of women and these stories. That’s kind of the thing that excites me the most is the idea that we’re breaking that type of barrier with these types of women and hearing these particular voices on The Great White Way. It’s really time to break through those barriers and show that there isn’t a reason for the lack of representation or the under-representation.”
Gurira on telling the story from the women’s perspective:
“Creating this play was an act of love. I got on a plane from New York to Ghana and from Ghana to Liberia and I was broke … but I knew I had to do it, my heart felt really driven to tell the stories in the voice of the women. I was crazy.”
Pascale Armand on making women’s voices heard:
“There are no men … You’re seeing the story from the female perspective … being able to tell this story and not have a male voice in it is just wonderful because most of the time women’s voices are silent. And so being able to speak for ourselves and tell the story the way we want to is wonderful and it’s something we haven’t seen in a long time.”
Zainab Jah on how close Eclipsed hits home:
“I read it and I said I know exactly who she is. When I first went to the audition, I asked Danai was it based on real-life women and she asked me ‘How do you know that?’ and I told her that I knew much about their stories … I have family members, one female cousin, who were involved in the war and I haven’t seen them since the war. So this character was really real to me.”
Akosua Busia on why her involvement in Eclipsed is personally important:
“This work resonated with me because of the work I’ve been doing with the refugee camp for Liberians. Ghana was one of the countries they fled to. Danai’s writing is so specific and although, as an actress, you cannot put every [thing] on that stage, you have to do your best and bring some kind of homage to the people who went through that.”
Saycon Sengbloh on telling the story of her countrywomen:
“I’m really proud. I think it’s really awesome to be a part of something like this, in terms of making history.”
You can read the full interview and see the full spread on UptownMagazine.com.
— TheWrap (@TheWrap) October 20, 2015
It’s no surprise that we want Lupita Nyong’o to collect these checks. So naturally, we were happy to learn that her most recent gig will be on Broadway.
Nyong’o, who will also star in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, will reprise a role she is now playing in a production called Eclipsed. Currently being performed off Broadway at the Public Theater, Eclipsed is written by Danai Gurira, best known for her role as Michonne on “The Walking Dead.”
According to the New York Times, the play is a “drama about the relationships among a group of women who are detained and raped by a Liberian rebel officer.”
The production at the Public Theater has been extended twice and is currently sold out.
Gurira is one of the few women to have her play make it to Broadway.
Broadway performances are scheduled to begin in February.
Eclipsed will join a list of racially diverse productions headed to the “Great White Way” in the upcoming year including Hamilton which employees Black and Hispanic actors to play America’s founding fathers, The Gin Game, starring James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson in roles historically played by White actors. On Your Feet! about Gloria Emilio Estefan, Allegiance about Japanese American internment camps, The Color Purple, Hughie with Forest Whitaker in the lead role, and Shuffle Along starring Audra McDonald, a musical that features a full Black cast.
Stephen Byrd, a producer for the show, said that Nyong’o turned down three film roles in order to commit to doing this play.
The Public production of Eclipsed is scheduled to end on Nov. 29 and the Broadway production will begin on February 23, with an official opening on March 6. It is expected to run for 17 weeks with the same cast featured in the Public Theater production.
The Broadway community is mourning the unexpected loss of one of its promising stars. Actor Kyle Jean-Baptiste, who made history as the first African-American to play Jean Valjean in the famed Les Miserables Broadway play, died after falling off his mother’s fire escape. Jean-Baptiste was only 21.
Broadway World confirmed Jean-Baptiste’s passing in a statement from production spokesman Marc Thibodeau: “The entire Les Miserables family is shocked and devastated by the sudden and tragic loss of Kyle, a remarkable young talent and tremendous person who made magic — and history — in his Broadway debut. We send our deepest condolences to his family and ask that you respect their privacy in this unimaginably difficult time.”
Jean-Baptiste began his career as an understudy, and later stepped into the role becoming the youngest actor to do so. The young star described playing Valjean as a “dream role.”
“This Last Heartbreak Was Really Hard”: Brandy Finally Opens Up About Ending Engagement To Ryan Press
I’ve been a huge Brandy fan since I was a kid. I’m talking way before Moesha. I’ve been a fan since I could barely understand what the hell she was talking about when she was singing “I Wanna Be Down.” So having the chance to finally meet her last week was pretty huge for me. I wasn’t chatting with the star because of any new music, or anything that has to do with the final season of The Game. Instead, the singer invited press to the rehearsals for her new role as Roxie Hart in Chicago on Broadway. Brandy will make her Broadway debut on Tuesday, April 28 and her run will continue through Sunday, June 21. Based on the moves she showed off during rehearsal (see at the bottom of the page), we know she’s going to knock ’em dead.
In my brief moments with the star, I picked her brain about a little bit of everything: Why she chose to make her Broadway debut in Chicago and NOT Cinderella (shhh don’t tell anybody, but she still hopes someone will make her a fairy godmother if the show ever returns to Broadway); if we will see her on Empire soon since Jussie Smollett has been vouching for her and she’s been spotted hanging with Lee Daniels; Tara Wallace and Amina Buddafly remaking “The Boy is Mine“; and how she managed to move forward after ending her engagement to former fiancé Ryan Press. Here’s what she had to say.
Why She Wanted To Play Roxie Hart
I love Chicago! I think it’s such a great story. It’s edgy. It’s a musical and you know I love music. I just think Roxie is somebody different, and feisty, and colorful. And I’ve played feisty before! But this is a different feisty, a 1920s feisty. I just love her songs like “Me and My Baby” and “Roxie.” She just has great songs and I’m excited. I love her lines. Her lines are cool too.
If She’ll Appear On “Empire” Anytime Soon
I love Jussie! Jussie is so supportive. I just love that kid and I’m so happy for him. I would love to be on Empire! I have hung out with Lee Daniels. Tasha Smith is one of my best friends. Jussie love me to death. I love Taraji, she’s one of my favorite actresses. So why not?! I can sing! I can act a little bit! C’mon ya’ll! Put me on Empire!
Her Thoughts On Tara And Amina Remaking “The Boy Is Mine”
Loooord. Okay, first of all, they shouldn’t be fighting over no man. I’m sorry I set that type of an example [laughs]. They’re strong and beautiful women and they deserve to be happy without all of that drama. And please don’t bring “The Boy Is Mine” into it! I feel responsible! [laughs]
How She Found Happiness Again After Split From Ryan Press
It took a while. It really did take a while. This last heartbreak was really hard, you know what I mean? It’s time. I just made a decision that even through heartbreak, you have to affirm that all will be well and in time you will feel better. And I feel better. I feel great! I feel strong. And I love it. I want everyone to feel strong because that’s when you can do it all–when you feel like you can.
2014 Cinderella Production Photos by Carol Rosegg
It was a Cinderella moment for everyone as Keke Palmer took the stage at the Broadway Theatre in New York City. Less than a month into Keke’s run as the first African-American to step into the title role and glass slippers of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, my daughter and I were invited to see the show.
As we sat front and center (much thanks to the ticket fairy!), anticipation was building in the theater while was filled with many adults, but even more little girls, dressed in their Broadway show finest. Frilly skirts abounded and giggles filled the air as we waited for the show to begin. I’d been to Broadway show’s before (in fact, I saw ‘The Color Purple’ years ago in this same theater) but nothing can match the excitement felt knowing that Keke was making history and we were all about to watch it happen.
As she hit the stage, Keke’s voice boomed. We’ve heard her sing before–she’s known for her YouTube videos where she covers songs from her bedroom, as well as the music she has released, and TV shows–but this Broadway stage singer is something else. Keke sounded amazing.
Sherri Shepherd joins Palmer as the first black woman to play Cinderella’s wicked stepmother, Madame. We all love Sherri as a (former) host on ‘The View’ but it was especially nice to see her playing evil and having fun with it.
Palmer and Shepherd have been flooded with messages of support on their social media platforms, but during an interview with Chris Witherspoon for MSNBC.com, the ladies revealed how they have handled skeptics and naysayers of their groundbreaking roles.
“I see the [negative comments] on Instagram and stuff like that, and I expected it because I am a film and TV actress. I had never done anything in the Broadway realm or in the theater realm at all,” Palmer said. “I know a lot of people were thinking, ‘She didn’t really audition for it, or she just was given the role.’ But I really did audition for it. I had to learn the lines, the music, I had to dance in that audition room… I worked my behind off.”
“Keke gets in there, and she infuses Cinderella with something so different than you’ve ever seen before,” said Shepherd.
The show, which runs for two hours, is an entertaining and fun ride–with a few new plot twists. Parents will enjoy it, but the little girls–especially little brown girls–who see this show, like my daughter will be changed and inspired forever.
As my daughter impatiently shifted in her seat before the show started, she turned to me and said,” Pay attention mom, we’re about to see history.” And so we did.
For tickets, visit CinderellaOnBroadway. The final performance on Broadway is January 3, 2015, and NeNe Leakes joins the cast (replacing Sherri Shepherd) on November 25.
#GoMommy: Cinderella On Broadway
Bippity, Boppity, Boo: Sherri Shepherd & NeNe Leakes Vy For Fairy Godmother Role In Broadway’s Cinderella
Could TV personality and comedienne Sherri Shepherd or reality TV star and sometime actress NeNe Leakes be coming to Broadway? Rumor has it that both of the ladies are competing for the role of Fairy Godmother in the Broadway musical Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.
According to Radar Online, sources claim that both Shepherd and Leakes really want the part and have already auditioned for the next casting of the musical, which was revived in 2013 for the stage. Typically, this version of Cinderella has always appeared as a TV movie special. First with Julie Andrews in 1957, then with Lesley Ann Warren in 1965 and finally with Brandy in 1997.
In this most recent Broadway revival, the role of fairy godmother has been played by Rebecca Luker and Victoria Clark, who is currently playing the part.
Having seen this production, which I highly recommend, I remember that this part called for quite a bit of singing. The fairy godmother sings the song “There’s Music in You.” And if you heard Whitney sing it back in 1997, you know that that is no small feat. I don’t think either Sherri or NeNe could pull that off. They would have to cut that whole number entirely–and believe me, it’s chill inducing.
Reportedly, Keke Palmer is also in talks to become the next Cinderella, which we would totally support.
If I put my concerns about their singing to the side, I think I’d prefer to see Sherri over NeNe. But that’s just me.
What do you think, would you want to see either Sherri or NeNe in this role?
And just because it’s so great, I’ve embedded Whitney singing “There’s Music in You” from the 1997 version of “Cinderella.” She was absolutely amazing.
Those are some big shoes to fill.
Despite seven Tony nominations, a win for best choreography and an opening performance on Tony night that brought the house down, the Broadway jazz revue “After Midnight“ will perform its final show on Sunday, June 29.
The show opened on October 18, 2013 to strong reviews. By the time it ends, it will have had 19 previews and 272 regular performances. The show consists of about two dozen musical numbers and 17 musicians from Jazz at Lincoln Center, all inspired by music of the 1930s. There’s also been a rotating group of star singers such as Fantasia Barrino, k.d. lang, Toni Braxton, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds and Vanessa Williams. Dule Hill, of TV’s Psych, is the emcee. Patti LaBelle will appear on stage through the 29th.
Box office take was the big issue. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the show had its biggest box office receipts during Christmas week with $891,410. As of Sunday, June 8, the show’s total take was $19.2 million. Producer Scott Sanders told The New York Times that there will be an effort to take the show on the road for a traveling tour. (We spoke with Sanders about diversity on Broadway for a pre-Tonys feature story here.)
The Tony Awards was important to the fortunes of a number of shows, which normally see a bump after a win. “A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder” saw increased ticket sales after taking home four trophies, taking in reportedly $900,000 the week after. The week before the awards were handed out, “Beautiful,” the Carol King show, “A Gentleman’s Guide,” “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” starring award winner Neil Patrick Harris, and “Aladdin” all had tremendous weeks, with each show besides “A Gentleman’s Guide” taking in more than $1 million. All of those shows were nominated for multiple awards and won on awards night.
“With the Tonys out of the way, it now remains to be seen just how much momentum the winning shows will be able to hold onto in the coming weeks,” Variety wrote a couple weeks back.
In the weeks since, one other show has announced it will be closing after failing to get a boost from the awards. “Mothers and Sons” starring Tyne Daly will close on June 22 after two months of only playing to a half-full theater. Daly had been nominated for her performance, and it was nominated for Best Play.
Separately but related, “Holler If Ya Hear Me,” the new musical inspired by Tupac Shakur’s music has been trying to stand out in previews post-Tonys. That show opens officially on June 19. In that aforementioned story about diversity on Broadway, we also spoke with Tony-winning director (for the “A Raisin in the Sun”) Kenny Leon. Click that story for more from Leon.
h/t The Huffington Post. Ann Brown contributed to this story.