All Articles Tagged "Broadway"
Remember we told you that Oprah and Audra McDonald would star in the revival of the Broadway play, night, Mother? We told you that the play wouldn’t hit the stage until 2015 or 2016 because both women had already been committed to other things in the coming years.
Turns out, McDonald will be taking on the role of legendary singer Billie Holiday in the play Lady Day at Emerson Bar & Grill.
The play relives Holiday’s last performance which took place four months before her death at just 44 years old.
McDonald has had a very successful Broadway career that has included not only work but recognition. She’s won give Tonys for her roles in Porgy and Bess, Ragtime, Carousel and A Raisin in the Sun, Master Class. If critics appreciate this performance she could win a whole new award, best leading actress in a play. If she does win, she’ll become the most honored woman on Broadway.
The run dates for the show have yet to be announced but they expect it will play at the Circle in the Square Theatre.
Does this sound like a play you’d be interested in seeing?
For years there’s been talk of a possible Lena Horne biopic. In fact, in 2003 Janet Jackson was the lucky lady selected to play Miss Horne, but after her 2004 Superbowl wardrobe malfunction Lena Horne demanded that she not play her. Since that time, talk of any sort of Lena Horne project appeared to have been tabled, but when we caught up with actress Salli Richardson at the African American Film Critics Association Awards she told us she actually has a project in the works.
The 46-year-old told us on the red carpet that she’s currently shopping a Lena Horne project for Broadway and that the script has already been completed. She also says she’s been singing a lot lately in preparation for the role which means Richardson just may living up to the status of Miss Lena Horne herself who starred in her own one-woman show, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music,which ran for more than 300 performances on Broadway. Do you think Salli might be able to pull off the same run?
Check out what she had to say about the project and her thoughts on black women in film and “12 Years a Slave” in the video above. Are you excited?
According to The New York Times, Oprah Winfrey is in talks to make Broadway debut in the Pulitzer Prize winning play, night, Mother, starring Audra McDonald as a woman struggling to stop her daughter from killing herself.
Tony winning director, George C. Wolfe would direct the production set to hit the stage in 2015-2016. Two theater executives spoke anonymously to share details about the production that is currently hush-hush. Kind of.
Scott Sanders, a lead producer of the project said, “Oprah has had a longstanding desire to act on Broadway. She understands how unique and challenging performing live on stage will be as an actress. She and I have been looking at a number of plays and roles in order to find material and a character that truly resonate with her. We’ve recently read something that we’re both excited about but are not yet ready to officially announce the specifics.”
According to the anonymous executives, Winfrey and Audra McDonald, who starred in the revival of Porgy and Bess, met at Mr. Sanders’ apartment to do a reading of the play and all involved were happy with the results.
The 2015-16 time frame was put in place to accommodate everyone’s hectic schedule. Oprah just got finished promoting Lee Daniels’ The Butler and is running a network. Mr. Sanders is set to produce another revival of The Color Purple and Audra McDonald, a five time Tony winner, also has theater projects in the 2014-2015 season.
night, Mother was written by Marsha Norman who worked with both Winfrey and Sanders as the book writer for The Color Purple.
Originally, night, Mother opened on Broadway in 1983 and ran for a year earning Tony nominations for best play and best actresses for Anne Pitoniak and Kathy Bates. There was also a revival of the play during the 2004-2005 season starring Edie Falco.
Sounds interesting. Would you check out Lady O on 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.