All Articles Tagged "Broadway"

Is Broadway The Next Stop For ‘Soul Train’?

April 18th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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Image Source: Tumblr.com

Image Source: Tumblr.com

The legendary music and dance show Soul Train is in the news a lot lately. Nelson George’s new book The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture & Style, covering the influences of the program that ran from 1971 to 2006, is well on its way to bestseller status. And now comes word the world that Soul Train may become fodder for Broadway.

Stage and film producer Matthew Weaver has acquired the theatrical stage rights to the TV show, reports The Grio. He’s says he wants to repeat the success he had with his last production, Rock of Ages.

“I’m nervous and I’m humbled and I’m excited,” said Weaver, heads of production firm MediaWeaver Entertainment. “I do think we’re the right people to do it because I think it’s got to have that spirit of ‘Rock of Ages,’ which is part old-fashioned musical but also part party.”

For 35 years people tuned in not only to see popular artists, mainly R&B, perform but also to checkout the fashions of the Soul Train dancers and of course to be up on the latest dances. Everyone from James Brown, to Ike and Tina Turner and Hall & Oates, to Whitney Houston, David Bowie, and Run D.M.C. appeared on the program.

Don Cornelius debuted the show in 1970 in Chicago and served as its host until 1993. Soul Train went into syndication from 1971 until 2006 and branched off an awards show that is still produced. Cornelius committed suicide in 2012.

Weaver, who says while growing up in New York he watched Soul Train every Saturday morning, plans to  hire a writer and get music rights.

“To me, that’s the heart of Soul Train — a great story and great characters. The music will be great, the fashion will be great, the ambiance, the vibe. But if you don’t have a good story, none of that means anything,” says Weaver, who also produced such films as We’re the Millers and The Heartbreak Kid. His Rock of Ages is now an international brand, with a film version, three national tours and productions of the show in Las Vegas, London, Australia, Toronto, Japan and South Korea.

Would you like to see Soul Train as a Broadway production?

“Holla If You Hear Me!” Cast Revealed For Upcoming Tupac Musical

April 9th, 2014 - By Madame Noire
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Source: WENN

Source: WENN

From BlackVoices 

The upcoming Broadway musical inspired by Tupac Shakur songs will star Saul Williams, the poet and singer best known for the film “Slam.”

Producers said this week the rest of the cast of “Holler If Ya Hear Me” will include Tonya Pinkins, Christopher Jackson, Saycon Sengbloh, Ben Thompson and John Earl Jelks.

The musical is not a biography of Shakur but uses his songs to explore the story of two friends who live in a low-income neighborhood in the Midwest. It will feature “California Love,” ”Keep Ya Head Up,” and “Me Against the World.”

Read more about Tupac’s Musical at BlackVoices.com 

Broadway Gets Its First Black ‘Phantom Of The Opera’

March 27th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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C.Smith/ WENN.com

C.Smith/ WENN.com

Actor Norm Lewis has done something no one else has done. Lewis has become Broadway’s first black “Phantom Of The Opera.” He will officially take over the title role in the Broadway production of The Phantom of the Opera at Majestic Theatre on May 12.

“People have been very excited about it,” Lewis told The Vulture, “and I think it will get people — especially producers and directors and the creative staff — to look deeper into a role, especially in a show that’s universal and doesn’t talk about race.”

Scandal fans may recognize Lewis. He most recently played Olivia Pope’s ex-fiancé Edison Davis on the show. Of Phantom, Lewis says it’s “a dream role and for a couple of reasons. Mainly I love the show, but actually [it sets] a precedent. Out of 26 years, there’s never been an African-American or someone of color to play the role on Broadway.” While Lewis will be the first black actor in the role on Broadway, Robert Guillaume played the role in the Los Angeles production in 1990. “I know there’s a lot of talented African-Americans, and even if it wasn’t me, I wanted someone to be able to do it,” said Lewis.

This, however, is a major first. The Phantom of the Opera has been running on Broadway for more than 25 years, reports The Los Angeles Times. The mega popular Andrew Lloyd Webber musical started its Broadway run in 1988. During this time, Phantom has completed more than 10,000 performances on Broadway.

Lewis isn’t new to The Great White Way. He starred as Porgy in the recent Tony Award-winning production of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess and has appeared in the Broadway casts of Les Miserables and Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

Lady Day On Broadway: Audra McDonald To Play Billie Holiday

February 26th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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audra mcdonald to play billie holiday feat

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?

Salli Richardson Developing Lena Horne Project For Broadway

February 13th, 2014 - By Brande Victorian
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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?

When Does She Sleep? Oprah To Make Her Broadway Debut

February 7th, 2014 - By Rich
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oprah to make broadway debut

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?

Living Legends Unite! Are Denzel & Diahann Carroll Returning To Broadway?

July 31st, 2013 - By Veronica Wells
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diahann and denzel

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.

Give Their Regards To Broadway: Celebs Who Started In Theater

July 25th, 2013 - By Ashley Page
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Source: WENN

Source: WENN

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.

Back To Broadway: Fantasia To Guest Star In New Musical About Duke Ellington!

July 20th, 2013 - By MN Editor
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"Fantasia pf"

WENN

From Essence

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

June 19th, 2013 - By Clarke Gail Baines
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Cicely Tyson pf

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!

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