Tuesday, June 25, 2013

'After Midnight' to hit Broadway this fall

NEW YORK (AP) — "After Midnight," a musical revue celebrating Duke Ellington's years at the famous Cotton Club nightclub in Harlem in the late '20s and early '30s, will begin new performances far from its original neighborhood — downtown at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on Broadway. 

Directed and choreographed by Warren Carlyle with musical direction by Wynton Marsalis, the show appeared off-Broadway last year at New York City Center under the name "Cotton Club Parade." Songs include "Stormy Weather" and "I've Got the World on a String." 

Casting and musicians will be announced later. One name swirling around the show is Grammy Award-winner Fantasia Barrino, who recently told the "Today" show that she was returning to Broadway in October, but didn't name the show. 

"After Midnight" will open its doors in October.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Free reading of Owa's "U" Sunday, 6/30 (NYC)

are invited to



Sunday June 30th 2013


Reading of the new play

Parts I & II

Written by Owa
Directed by Michele Shay

With talkback

 U, a play on a day of reckoning for unhappy lovers Abba and Dizzy in a futuristic American dystopia, where anything goes, but not far enough.

Featuring (in order of appearance)

Jason Marx

Dana Managan

Sergio Castillo

Maxemillian Corkum

Annemarie Agbodji

Free admission

Saturday, June 22, 2013

C.B. Murray's PEARL

pearl 6-4 from Charles on Vimeo.

Pearl Bailey gets a musical. It's about time. Aside from her talent (Emmy and Tony winner and the first African American woman to have her own TV show), she was ahead of the curve when she married Italian-American drummer Louie Bellson in 1952 in a very segregated America.  Written by C.B. Murray (Pearl's nephew). Directed by Ben Harney. Starring Jennie Harney as Pearl. Hopefully coming to Broadway or a theater near you. You can learn more here.

Myerson's JUMP JIM CROW reading Sunday, 6/23 (NYC)

Henry Meyerson¹s, JUMP JIM CROW will be presented as a reading by OutcastTheatre Company as part of their Festival of New Works. 

Where: Manhattan Theatre Club's Creative Space 
311 West 43rd Street, 8th floor, Studio 4. 
Between 8th and 9th Avenues 

When: Sunday, June 23, 2013 at 5 p.m. 

JUMP JIM CROW has been previously produced as part of the 2008 Midtown International Playwrighting Festival, and has had readings at the 2006 Juneteen Legacy Festival (Louisville), and the 2012 La Mama Theater (New York).

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Meet Angelina Grimke: An AAPEX Interview with Tosha Thompson

Tosha Thompson
Actually it's actress Tosha Thompson, who will be portraying America's first African American woman playwright, Angelina Weld Grimke - not to be confused with her great aunt, abolitionist Angelina Grimke Weld - in our Juneteenth reading of THE CARELESSNESS OF LOVE by Michael Dinwiddie at The Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center, Wednesday, June 19th, 6:30 pm. It's free. Rehearsal space courtesy of Out Central - www.outcentral.org 

Here's more about our leading lady in her own words: 

1. What role did theatre and the arts play in your childhood upbringing? 
It played a huge role, even though I didn’t realize it until much later. Performance and the Arts was something that I always did or was asked to do. I didn’t realize it was the silent, patient friend in my life that was always there for me, never getting it’s proper due until much later; when I was bold enough to say, “this is not just a hobby, this is my career. This is not an optional part of my life, but a very necessary part of my life. Indeed, it is part of my purpose for being here and a huge component of the passion that helps me truly live. It all started in my community’s little country church when I was growing up. It comforted me when I was afraid, kept me company when I was lonely, celebrated with me during my victories and challenged me so that I would never become complacent. I smile just thinking about those early years. Yes, the theatre and the arts have been a patient friend, one that I will never neglect again. 

2. Tell us about your evolution as an artist. 
Well I can tell you it is ongoing! I never feel that I have evolved enough. I never really feel like I know what I’m doing. I just try to be as authentic as possible when I am communicating. Perhaps that is one thing. I realize now that actors are communicators. It doesn’t sound as glamorous, but it’s a better description of what we do. We take dialogue and communicate as effectively as we can our character’s life story through our actions, our intonations, our clothing, even our silence. We should never catch ourselves (nor let anyone else catch us) “acting” up there. Authenticity matters. 

3. How are you preparing for the role of Angelina Grimke? 
From what I’ve read, Angelina Grimke was a phenomenal woman during a time that being phenomenal was the last word that one would use to describe a woman. She was opinionated and outspoken. She was passionate, curious and creative. She lived during a time when she would be scorned for most of her positive attributes that we would so freely celebrate in her today, because she was a woman. There was always a battle Angelina had to fight just to live an authentic life during those times. Everyone can identify with struggle, oppression of some sorts, and denial of those things that make life seem nearly unbearable without them. Life is full of conflict and without conflict you have no real dramatic story. See where I’m going… 

4. Tell us about your work with the NAACP and about the mission of the organization in the 21st century. 
When I was first approached by the genius of Jaz (Dorsey), I couldn’t believe the timing of everything that was about to happen. At the time of our first meeting, we were working together on another project and I had also recently joined the NAACP as the PR/Media Chair. We struck up a conversation. He found out my association with the NAACP and by the end of the conversation we both knew that this play had to be done! It had to be done because the story’s central character is the daughter of one of the founders of the NAACP. Unbelievable! The NAACP is really putting its focus back on the community and what the community feels is important. We just wrapped up Environmental Justice Earth Day. We had an impressive panel, which included our chapter president, Dr. John Arradondo speaking on the disparities of low income neighborhoods and disproportionate amounts of landfill placement and unhealthy living conditions. We pursue any injustice in our communities and welcome any suggestions at any time regarding issues or policies that need our attention. Please know that there is always an open door at our office for any concerns. I think our mission statement sums it up best: The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is to ensure political, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination. To reiterate: we are passionate about the rights of all disenfranchised or marginalized people.

Angelina Grimke is the daughter of one of the founders of the NAACP, Archibald Grimke (attorney and Harvard graduate). Angelina Grimke is a poet, a playwright and an outspoken individual during a time when women were not encouraged to be any of those things. She was the first African American female to have a play produced then publicly performed. This work has been noted as a precursor to the Harlem Renaissance. 

Filled with historical references and strong characters, we see a well woven tapestry of the struggles and joys of that era. We see Archibald's frustrations with W. E. B Du Bois, and we get to observe Angelina's struggle with finding her own way and living the life of her dreams. The only problem is, that life is strictly forbidden. Angelina has held a secret from her father and the rest of the world her entire life. For this reason, she considers leaving the only man she's ever loved since her mother abandoned her as a young girl. What is this secret? Will she leave or stay to keep the family honor? You MUST come and see for yourself! Don't miss the chance to see this free, intimate presentation before this play goes into full production! The play will be held in the 
Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center at Vanderbilt University
Wednesday, June 19th at 6:30 PM

Friday, June 7, 2013

GONNE/YEATS - A Literary Cabaret 6/15 (NYC)

Please click image to enlarge.

It's been a while since I had a play produced, so I am naturally excited by the NYC premiere of GONNE/YEATS - a literary cabaret which is a collaboration between myself and St. Louis playwright Dennis Corcoran

The purpose of GONNE/YEATS is to introduce the world to Maud Gonne

Maud is known as the St. Joan of Ireland, though for our purposes here in the US, it might be more effective to align her with Angela Davis. 

GONNE/YEATS explores Maud through the eyes of Irish poet W. B. Yeats (winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923), who is said to have written over 800 poems either to or about her - not to mention proposing to her five times over their life times - and eventually getting so frustrated that he proposed to her daughter! 

A story worthy of a Katherine Hepburn/Spencer Tracey movie, and there is a movie to be made here. 

Our cast features JR Robinson and Maryanna Principe as Mr. Yeats and Ms. Gonne. Thanks to my collaborator's knowledge of Irish music, we are weaving in a bit of music, which will be performed by Vocalist Jessica Kaufman and Violinist Amelia Meena

Spiral Theatre Studio's Artistic Director, Paula J. Riley, will bring a narrative voice to the cabaret in the persona of Countess Constance Markievicz, Maud's great ally in the women's voice for Irish Independence.

GONNE/YEATS fuses the poetry of Yeats with the writings of Gonne. 

For details and to make a reservation, go to www.metropolitanroom.com and search the calendar for Saturday, June 15 at 4:00 pm

BTW - June 13 is Mr. Yeats' 148th birthday, so this is a bit of a birthday party as well! 

Jaz Dorsey 
Dramaturge/Managing Director 
The Spiral Theatre Studio 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Get your tickets now to AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS (NYC)

Shirine Babb & Bryce Ryness
Photos by Michael Blase
Rarely has the magic of the theatre been more brilliantly and delightfully achieved than in Cedric Yau's production of playwright Mark Brown's adaptation of Jules Verne's adventure classic AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS. - directed by Rachel Klein

Yau and his artistic team have created a fantastical experience which begins the moment you enter the intimate New Theatre on W. 45th Street. The smart set is a work of art which extends through the entire theatre as murals on both sides. One feels a bit as though one has fallen into a Harry Potter movie (and let me say, if I had grandkids, we'd be getting tickets for the whole family). The set itself, by Robert Andrew Kovach, is a bit of a Rube Goldberg machine which becomes everything and everywhere. There's even GPS so we can know where we are in the journey - and an elephant that suddenly just explodes out of nowhere. Lighting Designer Ben Kato evokes a million moods with perfection. In an endless stream of costume changes, Kae Burke's costumes define the global trek, sometimes with a simple piece of cloth. And there are wonderful sounds throughout, thanks to Sound Designer Sean Hagerty and a travel log of projections by Kate Freer. One could happily buy tickets just to sit there and admire the set, but you don't want to miss the show. 

And what a show it is, as five of the finest actors I have ever seen erupt in a vaudeville of silliness that fuses the acting styles of Del Sarte and Monty Python - right off the "Boulevards" of old Paree. 

Bryce Ryness is very droll as Phileas Fogg, with his abstract good looks and his and oh so sweetly crafted dry but arch line deliveries and properly suppressed British take on inner emotions, which never manifest anywhere except in his eyes. 

John Gregorio brings Marx Brothers energy and a Cheshire Cat smile to Fogg's servant, Passepartout. He even acts with his nose! 

As Detective Fix, Stephan Guarino is just too funny - a quirky blend of Hercule Poirot and Inspector Clouseau. 

Jimmy Ray Bennett plays more roles in this show than most actors play in a lifetime, switching characters faster than Superman in a phone booth, and he does it with a lighthearted madness that keeps you giggling from beginning to end. 

After a few quick character changes at the top of the show, the lovely Shirine Babb settles into the role of the exotic Auoda, damsel in distress. She and Mr. Ryness have wonderful chemistry and spot-on timing in their many takes to the audience as Phileas and Auoda try to process the madness of danger, adventure, romance and triumph that avalanches around them. 

The stunning character work is beautifully enhanced by the work of Makeup Designer, Jessica Jade Jacob

At 32 years of age, Mr. Yau is launching his career as a producer with a show that the rest of us might only spend a lifetime dreaming of producing. You really don't want to miss AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS and I'm sure we will all be watching with baited breath to see what Mr. Yau comes up with next. For full details about the show, visit www.aroundtheworldinnyc.com

Jaz Dorsey

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Katori Hall's HOODOO LOVE 6/6 (Chicago)

Please click to enlarge.

You are cordially invited to the opening of "Hoodoo Love," a dangerous love story about the blues and magic, Thursday, June 6, 2013.  Curtain is at 8 p.m.  Come early (6-8 pm) for the opening reception for the gallery exhibition, "Personal Freedom: Assemblages by Patricia A. Stewart."  Please RSVP for the show only to kenseycomm@sbcglobal.net.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Gershwin's BLUE MONDAY at historic Cotton Club 6/5 (Harlem)

Please click image to enlarge.

Please click here to buy tickets.  WE HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE; THE FIREHOUSE CREW