Thursday, March 28, 2013

Learning to ask without shame


Amanda MacKinnon Gaiman Palmer, sometimes known as Amanda Fucking Palmer, is an American performer who first rose to prominence as the lead singer, pianist, and lyricist/composer of the duo The Dresden Dolls. Married to Neil Gaiman. She recently gave a TED talk on learning to ask for money to support your art... without shame-- an important message for any playwright seeking funds to mount his or her play. Click here to visit her website.

A Real Paradigm Shift in Black Theater

A Real Paradigm Shift 
Commentary by
Owa

In my consideration of the pervasive malaise afflicting the so-called Black Theater in this the twenty-first century; I am painfully reminded of Langston Hughes’ reproach to his fellows during the heyday of the so-called Black Renaissance (and I’m paraphrasing) “when white people stop spending money on us, we will dry up.” Which is exactly what happened to the Black Arts during and after the Great Depression in the twentieth century? 

Now in the twenty-first century, the wholesale robbery by big Bad Bankstas and the ensuing economic decline; American theater in general and Black theater in particular finds itself—again, facing pertinent issues of survival. The awful reality of our situation is compounded with the death of so many Black Theater venues unable to keep its doors open. Those that do so are heavily reliant on foundation funding and not grassroots audience support. To intelligently consider these issues it is first necessary to dispel some very pervasive myths that cling like cobwebs on the psyche of Black Theater professional practitioners. The first being: “there is no money in theater.” American Theater is a multi-billion dollar industry. With a trickle down effect to the artist; this Paradigm Construct constricts the flow of capital from top to bottom. If artist scramble for the scraps thrown their way; they are far more obliging than they would be otherwise, having full access to modes of production. What are these modes of production? 

Tyler Perry
First, there exist the Theater hierarchy models with the “producer” allegedly at the top. Who is actually a front office fake. Producers don’t produce anything but the myths. They are conduits for the money given to them for productions. If the dismal history and experience of producers in Black Theater is any indication, this is inherently, a flawed model. A case in point: It is highly unlikely that any producer –white or especially Black--would have produced even one show by Tyler Perry. In addition, Mr. Perry’s theater requires a constant of grassroots audience support at the box office. In other words, his shows could not be dependent on the suspect ability of “producers” to cobble together funding for shows needed to run in such a manner as to garner a national profile of his brand—make no mistake—his is a branding-- of theater. Neither did Mr. Perry attempt to do theater in the conventional sense, nor did he court the existing and established paradigm construct for distribution of his theatrical product. 

Many have problems ranging from aesthetics to just plain hatin’ with the Tyler Perry product. However, for all the castigation of his work; I have yet to hear any aesthetic or intellectual criticism of his audience, who by the way, love his work with an exceedingly great love. Those who rant against his art are mainly those who have yet to put forward an artistic or intellectually viable alternative to these issues; by failure to develop a production modality that offers YOUR theater product to the very same audience. The likelihood of this alternative occurring is ever so slight because of the heavy reliance on the establish paradigm by the mainstay of Black theater operators, professionals and practitioners. This is decidedly a stranglehold on the growth of Black Community Theater. We seem to be waiting for “better times.” There are no better times coming. There never were better times. There were times when we enjoyed the influx of white money. But his was also true of the Public Welfare system. Speaking of welfare… 

There exists a baleful “Culture of Lack” casting a pall of disambiguation in the communal conversation defining the true essence of an efficacious and viable Black Theater Business Aesthetic. 

"Our theater resembles those myriad third world nations, full of unimaginable resources, yet dependent on handouts from wealthy societies whose very wealth is a result of our resource inequality." 

Much of our talent resources are knocking at the doors of white groups who have a mandate to maintain a numbers game strategy, fulfilling funding requirements for diversity. There is a Monopolistic, Combine and conglomerate trend in America manufacturing, labour and entertainment industries. 

I won’t go into further insults and slander against the existing order of things and its minions, but rather, will allow my readers to weigh, reflect on and engineer their own thoughts concerning these matters at hand. In many ways I have a distinct feeling of being somewhat akin to Noah who said to those who wouldn’t listen, there is going to be rain—and lots of it. 
Owa Jackson

Owa 
Bronx, NY 
March 28, 2013

Joan of Arc: The Musical 3/29-31st (St. Louis)



Mario Farwell
Hello

I'm writing to invite you to a concert of a opera I wrote based on the life of Joan of Arc. It would be great if you could send a representative of your theater to a performance. We are looking for a theater to do a full production of the opera. The performance information is in the announcement below.

Mario Farwell
St. Louis Writers' Group Events 

The St. Louis Writers' Group and First Run Theater present "Joan of Arc," an opera with all original music.

What: An original musical opera based on the life and struggles of Joan of Arc
When: March 29, 30 and 31; all performances are at 7:30 p.m.
Where: "The Chapel" (off Skinker, next to Washington University), 6238 Alexander Drive, St. Louis, MO 63105

Tickets: Requested donation - $5.00 at the door.

The opera focuses on the mental and spiritual struggle between the Bishop Cauchon (the head Inquisitor) and Joan of Arc and explores the rich tapestry of Joan of Arc's life through music.

Libretto by Mario Farwell, Music by Aaron Latina, Musical direction by Rob Miller, Stage Direction by Carolyn Osbourne-Masterson

BLURB: Joan of Arc was born during the protracted Hundred Years War. France was being torn apart, as the nobility of England and France fought over who would take the French throne. Joan of Arc enters this historic fray, to raise the siege of Orleans and escort the Dauphin to Reims to be crowned king of France (Charles VII). She was captured, put on trial for heresy and crimes against the faith.

Click here to listen to "Prisoner of Our Time" from "Joan of Arc: The Musical."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

NEW AFRICAN THEATER Debuts (Cleveland)



THE BIRTH OF IMAGINATION; 
A NEW THEATER TAKES ITS FIRST BREATH

Jan Ridgeway, Executive Director of The Garden Valley Neighborhood House is proud to announce the formation of the New African Theater, which will be head-quartered at the Garden Valley Neighborhood House (GVNH).  This new innovative theater will focus on the area of new work and will serve as an incubator for playwrights, directors and actors.  In a city loaded with hidden creativity, New African seeks not only to uncover these gems, but shine them to a high polish.  New African will actively target those homegrown playwrights and directors, who have gone unknown and unheralded.  Founder and Artistic Director, Michael Oatman, envisions the theater as a place to launch creative work and develop talent at the same time. 

“This city seems ripe for another avenue for artists to showcase their work,” said Oatman, who also plans to reach the youngest artists amongst us.  “One of the first things we have scheduled is an acting workshop for teens to help meet the demand of young people who wish to learn about performance, but have no viable outlet to do so,” said Oatman.  The free workshop will be held May 4th, at 12pm.  

Ridgeway is equally excited by the development of new work and the addition of Michael Oatman to the GVNH family.  

“Michael Oatman brings to this initiative a unique talent and perspective that will help New African develop the talent that reside in this historically under-served community.  We are excited by the new work that will be explored through this partnership,” said Ridgeway.  GVNH has been a beacon of hope for over 75 years.  GVNH, under the operational leadership of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Presbytery of Western Reserve, opened its doors in 1918.  Its mission was to provide social services to the residents in the neighborhood.     
  
Historically GVNH has provided support by helping to acclimate diverse immigrant ethnic groups into the cultural quilt work of America.  Presently, the current community in Garden Valley, which is primarily African American, depends on subsidized housing and social programs for mere survival.  This has caused GVNH's services to more intensely focus on issues of education and sustainability.  In this spirit, The New African Theater will have a strong outreach arm that ventures into schools and community centers, using theater as a vehicle to uplift and educate.

“This is a bold step forward.  Something whose time has truly come.  I look forward to being able to service the young people of Kinsman and the surrounding area,” said acting instructor Ashley Aquilla, who is a local film and stage actor.  Aquilla will be facilitating the first acting workshop for teens.  All though the workshops will be aimed at the under-served communities surrounding the Kinsman area, all teens are free to join the workshop. 

Schedule of Events For the New African Theater
May 4th, 2013, 12pm – Teen Acting Workshop/Taught by Ashley Aquilla 
May 6th, 2013, TBA – The Art of the Story at Anton Grdina/Facilitated by Dominique Paramore
June 22nd, 2013, 12pm – PERFORMANCE: My Africa written by Michael Oatman

Garden Valley Neighborhood House
7100 Kinsman Road
Cleveland, Ohio 44104

# # #

For more information or to schedule an interview please contact Jan Ridgeway at  (216) 641-5558 – Office/ (216) 618-7622 or email Michael Oatman at newafricantheater@hotmail.com

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sneak Preview: Jeffrey Page's "slow drag" choreography for JITTERBUG! with Khalil Kain and Afi McClendon


Emmy nominated choreographer Jeffrey Page's rehearsal footage of the dance he's creating for the Jitterbug! slow drag scene with Khalil Kain and Afi McClendon. Music: Jitis Blues by  Memphis Minnie (1930). Tickets are still available for the Saturday, March 23rd reading in NYC. You can buy tickets and learn more at www.ouatih.com.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Hope Harley cast in DC Copeland's Jitterbug! (NYC)

Hope Harley
Hope Harley has been cast by director Petronia Paley in DC Copeland's Jitterbug!  She'll be playing multiple roles and age ranges from a wisecracking Jolly Flapperette to an old woman landlord. Ms. Harley is pursuing her lifelong dream to become an actor after a long and suc-cessful corporate career. Last year she appeared as Lena Younger (Mama) in the Gallery Players production of A Raisin in the Sun. She has appeared in productions at the Polaris North Theater Cooperative, the Strawberry One-Act Festival,  and in two episodes of the Biography channel’s Celebrity Ghost Stories. She is a student at I The Actor, led by Petronia Paley.

Tickets are still available for the music and dance-filled reading at the Tada! Theatre Saturday March 23rd. Movie and TV star Khalil Kain will play Billy Rhythm, the lead character. He will be joining award-winning director Petronia Paley and Emmy nominated choreographer Jeffrey PageJitterbug! was invited by Artistic Director Paul Adams of the Emerging Artists Theatre's (EAT) to participate in the "invitation only" annual New Works Festival. The play has been vetted by USA Projects and Fractured Atlas for tax- deductible contributions to help offset its production costs. You can learn more at www.ouatih.com

Clinton Roane cast in DC Copeland's Jitterbug! (NYC)

Clinton Roane
Clinton Roane (AEA) has been cast by director Petronia Paley in DC Copeland's Jitterbug!  He'll be playing multiple rolls including that of Cab Calloway.  Clinton is excited to be a part of Jitterbug! Some theatre credits include The Scottsboro Boys  on Broadway, Hello! My Baby and My One And Only. He is a graduate of Howard University and CAP21.
Here's a clip of Clinton singing "If She Were Coming Home" from the musical Next Thing You Know by Joshua Salzman and Ryan Cunningham (with Salzman on piano).
Tickets are still available for the music and dance-filled reading at the Tada! Theatre Saturday March 23rd. Movie and TV star Khalil Kain will play Billy Rhythm, the lead character. He will be joining award-winning director Petronia Paley and Emmy nominated choreographer Jeffrey PageJitterbug! was invited by Artistic Director Paul Adams of the Emerging Artists Theatre's (EAT) to participate in the "invitation only" annual New Works Festival. The play has been vetted by USA Projects and Fractured Atlas for tax- deductible contributions to help offset its production costs. You can learn more at www.ouatih.com

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Jim Bray cast in DC Copeland's Jitterbug! (NYC)

Jim Bray

Jim Bray (AEA) has been cast by director Petronia Paley in DC Copeland's Jitterbug! He'll be reading multiple rolls including that of mobster Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll. Jim's credits include tours in Grease as Doody (Euro tour); New York Theatre: Daisy in The Great Pretender, Daniel in It’s Karate, Kid! The Musical. Regional: Plaid Tidings, Chicago, Man of La Mancha, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Singin’ in the Rain, Avenue Q, The Producers, Hair Spray, Sweeney Todd, Forever Plaid, All Shook Up, Bat Boy, Blood, Drive, Fallen Angel; Film/TV: Mona Lisa Smile (Columbia Pictures), CAMP (Killer/Jersey Films); Strangers With Candy (Comedy Central); Recordings: Sympathy Jones, It’s Karate, Kid! The Musical

Tickets are still available for the music and dance-filled reading at the Tada! Theatre Saturday March 23rd. Movie and TV star Khalil Kain will play Billy Rhythm, the lead character. He will be joining award-winning director Petronia Paley and Emmy nominated choreographerJeffrey PageJitterbug! was invited by Artistic Director Paul Adams of the Emerging Artists Theatre's (EAT) to participate in the "invitation only" annual New Works Festival. The play has been vetted by USA Projects and Fractured Atlas for tax- deductible contributions to help offset its production costs. You can learn more at www.ouatih.com


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Pamela Monroe cast in DC Copeland's Jitterbug! (NYC)

Pamela Monroe
Pamela Monroe, a co-producer for the 3/23 reading at the Tada! Theater in Manhattan, has been cast by Petronia Paley to read the stage directions to DC Copeland's Jitterbug! Her most recent credits include Pearl’s Gone Blue (NYC International Fringe Festival 2011 winner for the “Award of Excellence for Best Musical Production”), A Long Last Poem Before Dying; Mina by OBIE Award winning and TONY nominated playwright Leslie Lee; What Would Jesus Do?; The Vagina Monologues; Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery.  Film credits include:  Doing the L.A. Thing (HBO Best Feature at Martha’s Vineyard African-American Film Festival); Pieces of a Puzzle,  Kali’s Vibe and the short film Mateo’s Room featuring Anthony Laciura (Boardwalk Empire).

Tickets are still available for the music and dance-filled reading at the Tada! Theatre Saturday March 23rd. Movie and TV star Khalil Kain will play Billy Rhythm, the lead character. He will be joining award-winning director Petronia Paley and Emmy nominated choreographerJeffrey PageJitterbug! was invited by Artistic Director Paul Adams of the Emerging Artists Theatre's (EAT) to participate in the "invitation only" annual New Works Festival. The play has been vetted by USA Projects and Fractured Atlas for tax- deductible contributions to help offset its production costs. You can learn more at www.ouatih.com

Monday, March 11, 2013

Mark Lang cast in DC Copeland's Jitterbug! (NYC)

Mark Lang
Actor Mark Lang has been cast by director Petronia Paley in DC Copeland's Jitterbug! Mr. Lang will play multiple roles including that of Cotton Club mobster "Big Frenchy" DeMange, a role he previously played to great acclaim in last year's shortened "radio" version at the National Black Theatre in Harlem. Mark is a 12-year Harlem resident who has appeared on stage, film and television. Recent credits include ‘Roy Bryant’ in Whistle in Mississippi: The Lynching of Emmett Till, ‘Dag Hammerskjold’ in A Season in the Congo, ‘White Cop’ in The Bronx is Next and ‘Capt. Zuelke’ in Camp Logan and Lepidus/Euphronious/The Clown in Take Wing and Soar’s production of Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra. Other film and TV credits include multiple guest star roles on The Young Riders (MGM/UA) and Hey Dude (Cinetel). Mark has also had principal roles in a number of low budget thrillers and regular spots on CollegeHumor.com. He has performed in more than 40 stage plays and worked as a stunt man at Old Tucson Studios. 

Tickets are still available for the music and dance-filled reading at the Tada! Theatre Saturday March 23rd. Movie and TV star Khalil Kain will play Billy Rhythm, the lead character. He will be joining award-winning director Petronia Paley and Emmy nominated choreographerJeffrey PageJitterbug! was invited by Artistic Director Paul Adams of the Emerging Artists Theatre's (EAT) to participate in the "invitation only" annual New Works Festival. The play has been vetted by USA Projects and Fractured Atlas for tax- deductible contributions to help offset its production costs. You can learn more at www.ouatih.com

Richard Vincent Weber cast in DC Copeland's JITTERBUG! (NYC)

Richard Vincent Weber
Richard Vincent Weber has been cast by director Petronia Paley as the Radio Announcer at the Savoy Ballroom dance contest and as mobsters Harry Block and Owney Madden in DC Copeland's Jitterbug! He has worked off-Broadway and regional theatre across the country, including: Classical Theatre of Harlem, Manhattan Theatre Source, Theatre for the New City, Park Theatre, NJ; Prometheus Fire, CT; and Matrix Theatre, LA. Last seen in Neil Labute's Stand Up and is currently working on an adaptation of Shakespeare's Sonnets, Marlowe The Poet for the Spring.  Film: Melvyn Van Peebles’ Confession of an Ex-Duffus. TV: Silk Stalkings, Fade Out, Rolling Thunder, Vanishing Son, Renegade. Special thanks to the memory of Jack Colvin and Chris Seina for their inspiration.

Tickets are still available for the music and dance-filled reading at the Tada! Theatre Saturday March 23rd. Movie and TV star Khalil Kain will play Billy Rhythm, the lead character. He will be joining award-winning director Petronia Paley and Emmy nominated choreographerJeffrey PageJitterbug! was invited by Artistic Director Paul Adams of the Emerging Artists Theatre's (EAT) to participate in the "invitation only" annual New Works Festival. The play has been vetted by USA Projects and Fractured Atlas for tax- deductible contributions to help offset its production costs. You can learn more at www.ouatih.com

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Peter Jay Fernandez cast in DC Copeland's JItterbug! (NYC)

Peter Jay Fernandez
Veteran TV and film star Peter Jay Fernandez has been cast by director Petronia Paley in DC Copeland's Jitterbug! He will double as the legendary Herbert White, founder of the Harlem street gang known as the Jolly Fellows and the globe trotting dance troupe Lindy Hoppers and equally legendary tap dancer and film star Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. His TV credits include: House of Cards, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Body of Proof, The Good Wife, Blue Bloods, Damages, Fringe, Hack, Law & Order, The Prosecutors, Cosby, New York Undercover, The Adventures of Superboy. Film: The Adjustment Bureau, Deception, Preaching to the Choir, The Egoists. Stage: Played Donald Jackson in Charles Fuller’s Zooman and the Sign at the Peter Norton Space in NYC, Shaka in Oni Faida Lampley’s play Tough Titty at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Williamstown, MA; Marvel Thunder in Thunder Knocking on the Door, a musical by Keith Glover, Keb’ Mo’, and Anderson Edwards at the Minetta Lane Theater in NYC.

Tickets are still available for the music and dance-filled reading at the Tada! Theatre Saturday March 23rd. Movie and TV star Khalil Kain will play Billy Rhythm, the lead character. He will be joining award-winning director Petronia Paley and Emmy nominated choreographerJeffrey PageJitterbug! was invited by Artistic Director Paul Adams of the Emerging Artists Theatre's (EAT) to participate in the "invitation only" annual New Works Festival. The play has been vetted by USA Projects and Fractured Atlas for tax- deductible contributions to help offset its production costs. You can learn more at www.ouatih.com

Friday, March 8, 2013

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Cezar Willams cast in DC Copeland's Jitterbug!


Cezar Williams has been cast by director Petronia Paley in DC Copeland's Jitterbug! He will be playing two characters: Candy, the lead character's best friend, and Charlie Buchanan, part owner of the world-famous Savoy Ballroom. Theater credits include James and Annie, by Warren Leight at the Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati (dir: D. Lynn Meyers) and the Williamstown Theatre Festival (dir: Jack Hofsiss), Ascension at The National Black Theatre Festival (dir: Petronia Paley) and Yanagai! Yanagai! at La Mama (dir: Harold Dean James and Karen Oughtred). Television appearances include Law and Order, NYC 22, Blue Bloods and What Would You Do?

Tickets are still available for the music and dance-filled reading at the Tada! Theatre Saturday March 23rd. Movie and TV star Khalil Kain will play Billy Rhythm, the lead character. He will be joining award-winning director Petronia Paley and Emmy nominated choreographerJeffrey PageJitterbug! was invited by Artistic Director Paul Adams of the Emerging Artists Theatre's (EAT) to participate in the "invitation only" annual New Works Festival. The play has been vetted by USA Projects and Fractured Atlas for tax- deductible contributions to help offset its production costs. You can learn more at www.ouatih.com

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Stephen Long's JEFF FORT & FRED HAMPTON: A REVOLUTIONARY LOVE STORY 3/8 (NYC)


Steve Long
JEFF FORT AND FRED HAMPTON: A REVOLUTIONARY LOVE STORY written by Steven Long is a play about the three secret conversations most likely had between Jeff Fort, the legendary gang leader of the Blackstone Rangers, and Fred Hampton a 20 year old revolutionary who leads the Chicago Black Panther Party of Illinois. The FBI feared that Jeff Fort and Fred Hampton might actually join forces. In the last years of Hoover's reign, Hoover did not want to see the Black Panther Party double in size and he was determined to stop that from happening! Part of the story centers on what made the FBI so anxious about two 20 year old black kids from Chicago, and more importantly, what still blocks a young black man's potential today.


Jolie Tong, who has worked on and Off-Broadway, is the director of the reading . She is now a professor at Brooklyn College.

The free reading will be at 
7:30 pm
Friday, March 8th 
at the 
Dramatists Guild 
1501 Broadway, Suite 710 
Frederick Loewe Room
New York, NY 10036

Steven Long started working in professional theatre as an actor at 16 with Eden at the Victory Gardens Theatre, which was nominated for a Jeff Award for Best Ensemble. He has performed in over 100 plays in theaters that have included the Goodman Theatre, Los Angeles Theatre Center. He went to school at Webster University and Columbia College where he started teaching acting and began the Theodore Ward Prize for Playwriting, a national playwriting contest. He has written three screenplays and four plays.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Andi Bohs cast as female lead in Jitterbug! (NYC)

Andi Bohs
Actress Andi Bohs has been cast by director Petronia Paley as the female lead in DC Copeland's Jitterbug!  This will be Andi's second time around in the dancical. Last March she had a smaller part in the shortened "radio" version at the prestigious National Black Theater in Harlem. While in Chicago she was featured in a number of regional productions including a dual-role performance as Mama/Hannah in A Midnight Cry at the historic Auditorium Theatre and Richard III at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Since moving to New York she has performed as Belle de Costa Green in Ventfort Hall’s production of Belle of the Books, a role which was remounted for both the Metropolitan Playhouse’s 2011 Harlem Renaissance Festival and the 50th anniversary of the Union College Library. She most recently performed in Fresh Ground Pepper’s All the Rats and Rags and Tiny Rhino's Valentine's Day Eve Celebration.

Tickets are still available for the music and dance-filled reading at the Tada! Theatre Saturday March 23rd. Movie and TV star Khalil Kain will play Billy Rhythm, the lead character. He will be joining award-winning director Petronia Paley and Emmy nominated choreographer Jeffrey Page. Jitterbug! was invited by Artistic Director Paul Adams of the Emerging Artists Theatre's (EAT) to participate in the "invitation only" annual New Works Festival. The play has been vetted by USA Projects and Fractured Atlas for tax- deductible contributions to help offset its production costs. You can learn more at www.ouatih.com

Monday, March 4, 2013

BLACK WOMEN WRITERS AND DIRECTORS IN SPOTLIGHT FOR WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH AT ETA (Chicago)


In honor of Women’s History Month, eta presents the second of three shows written and directed by women.  On the heels of the successful run of “Wine in the Wilderness” and “Florence,” two one act plays by Alice Childress, eta will present Cheryl L. West’s contemporary unflinching exploration of familial bonds shared among women in Jar the Floor. Directed by Ilesa DuncanJar the Floor opens March 21, 2013 (thru May 12, 2013at eta Square, 7558 S. South Chicago Avenue.  Show times are 8 pm Fri & Sat; 3 pm Sundays. General admission is $30 with student, senior and group rates.  For tickets and information, call 773-752-3955 or visit http://www.etacreativearts.org/. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Khalil Kain will play Billy Rhythm, the lead character in DC Copeland's Jitterbug! (NYC)

Khalil Kain
Khalil Kain first appeared in the 1992 film Juice as Raheem. Some of his credits include Suddenly SusanFriendsLiving SingleMoeshaAngel, and Sister, Sister.

Kain portrayed Marvin Cox in the 1997 romantic comedyLove Jones and golfer Tiger Woods in Showtime's The Tiger Woods Story. He was also in Bones with co-star Snoop Dogg. Kain has been an avid student of martial arts since 1996, and holds a black belt in hapkido.[1]
He appeared as Darnell Wilkes on the UPN/CW TV series Girlfriends from Seasons 2 through 8. He replaced Flex Alexander, who left to star in the sitcom One on One.[2]
He also played the role of Bill in the 2010 movie For Colored Girls.
                                            ----------
Directed by Petronia Paley with dance numbers by Emmy nominated choreographer Jeffrey Page, the music and dance-filled reading will take place at 9pm, Saturday, March 23rd at the Tada! Theatre in Manhattan. Jitterbug!, the award-winning "dancical" by DC Copeland is participating in the "by invitation only" New Works Festival by Emerging Artists Theatre (EAT). Vetted by USA Projects and Fractured Atlas, tax deductible donations in support of the reading can be found here and here

Friday, March 1, 2013

CABARET-- a reaction (Nashville)


My grandmother's favorite film was THE SOUND OF MUSIC. She went over and over again, and what grandmother wanted to do we all did, so by the time I was 13 I had seen the film at least a dozen times.

Then in 1968, when my mother and I were in London, we took in the West End production of CABARET, starring Judi Dench as Sally Bowles and Lotte Lenya as Fraulein Schneider. 

I was never the same after that, and sitting in the theatre tonight watching Tennessee Rep's compelling production of CABARET, I had an epiphany: CABARET is the flip side of THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Instead of Maria Von Trapp we have Sally Bowles; instead of the Captain, we have the MC - and instead of the Von Trapp Family Singers we get the Kit Kat girls. 

In 1972, Liza Minelli and Joel Grey did a whole new number on Isherwood's story, essentially glamorizing the decadent world of Weimar Berlin. Minelli's rendition of the title song brought it to the level of an anthem, essentially glorifying down and dirty decadence. In spite of the encroaching shadows of the Holocaust, Minelli's rendition still made you want to go out for a good time being "bad." It made many of us just want to BE Liza. Or Sally. Or both. 

That is not the feeling you are going to get from Jenny Littleton's gut wrenching take on the song. Littleton's "Cabaret" is delivered by a frightened young lady who has just had a brutal abortion and probably a line or two of something narcotic. 

Littleton sings the song like she can't wait to get it over with and kudos to both the actress and director Rene Copeland for not selling out to a drag show fantasy and allowing this iconic song to escape from any preconceptions, to serve not the spectacle but the story. There is no way you are going to leave this production wanting to identify this Sally Bowles. Littleton, David Compton and the rest of the cast have gotten the rave reviews they so richly deserve from our critics; there is nothing I can say about the talent that has not already been said by Martin Brady, Evans Donnell et al. 

So as I sat there in the audience, my musings took me in another direction : I walked out asking myself, "Why does this play feel so relevant today." 

Maybe it's because we seem to be just moments away from a national economic crisis in a country whose national psyche is the product of a racist society. Maybe it's because some of our political leaders are pretty scary. Maybe not Hitler scary, maybe not right now - maybe NOT this time - but how secure can we ever allow ourselves to be? 

For all of it's engaging story and clever lyrics, the hormones of CABARET are the dance numbers performed by the Kit Kat Girls. Androgyny and denial and lust and ennui haunt Pam Atha's beautifully crafted choreography, but it wouldn't reverberate as it does if it were not for the five talented young ladies who are the Kit Kat girls - Mia Rose Ernst, Rosemary Fossee, Kristi Mason, Marin Miller and Elizabeth Claire Bailey. Choreographer and dancers are deliciously enabled by the first rate design elements of costume, makeup and lighting. These cabaret girls look more available than alluring. 

A testament to the play's enduring fascination is the fact that the run has been extended (www.tennesseerep.org), so if you haven't seen it, then by all means 

Come to Nashville and Go to the Theatre! 
Jaz Dorsey 
The Nashville Dramaturgy Project

Red Harlem Readers