DANCE: Choreographer Dave Scott Tackles Reimagining Andrew Lloyd Webber Classic “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”

Dave Scott (photo credit: Lee Perry); “Joseph” image: Mustang Marketing

article by Kristyn Burtt via dancenetwork.tv

Choreographer Dave Scott is well known for his work on So You Think You Can Dance and in films like High Strung, Step Up 2: The Streets, Stomp The Yard and You Got Served. He’s now tackling a new venture that is sure to bring a fresh spin on a musical theatre classic. Under the direction of Will North, Scott will be reimagining the choreography from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

The family-friendly show will run Oct. 13-22, 2017 at the Cabrillo Music Theatre in Thousand Oaks, California, and focuses on the trials and triumphs of Joseph, Israel’s favorite son and his “coat of many colors” from the Bible’s Book of Genesis. Although Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was first performed in 1968, it didn’t have its Broadway debut until January 1982.

North explained to Dance Network about his initial idea to collaborate with the hip-hop choreographer.

“I wanted to do a contemporary version of the show while bringing in different genres of hip-hop — including krumping. Dave is the perfect person to execute that vision,” he explains.

For Scott, taking on the project was a natural fit as he looks to diversify beyond his work in TV and film. The idea of live theatre not only adds an unexpected element, it’s giving him a new way to communicate through his artistry.

“I’ve always approached television and film with the mentality of the stage. To achieve the ‘wows’ and ‘splendor’ with no edits or cuts,” Scott shares. “I personally and creatively imagine my work in cartoon, like a superhero. I always aspire to go beyond the non-boundaries of dance, and this is a perfect platform.”

In addition to the upcoming production, Scott will also be back this summer choreographing on Season 14 of SYTYCD and he recently completed the film, Manifest Destiny Down: Spacetime, which will be out in 2018 with Broadway star Alexandra Winter.

Source: Exclusive: Why ’SYTYCD’ Choreographer Dave Scott Is Tackling A Reimagined Andrew Lloyd Webber Classic | Dance Network

FEATURE: Morris Robinson, the Unexpected Opera Star: ‘A Lot of the Purists, They Don’t Believe My Story’

Opera singer Morris Robinson (photo via latimes.com)

article by Christopher Smith via latimes.com

Opera is often called the most irrational art form. Seen through that lens, bass singer Morris Robinson’s unlikely career path makes wonderful sense.At a young age, from a family and culture that reveres singing, Robinson aspired to be a drummer instead. He ignored college music scholarships and conservatory programs for a free-ride to play football at a military college. Afterward, bypassing all thought of studying music at grad school, he worked for a Fortune 500 company in regional sales of data storage.

At 30, in finally attempting to sing professionally, he tried out for the chorus of “Aida” at the Boston Lyric Opera, the biggest company in New England. A week later, the music director handed him music for a solo role, accompanied by a plea: “Please don’t screw it up.”

“A lot of the purists, they don’t believe my story,” Robinson said. “They don’t believe it until they witness it themselves.”

Now 47 and equipped with 18 years of major roles with A-list companies nationally and internationally, Robinson has forged a life path in opera that seems inevitable in retrospect. After all, he was “the rare person,” L.A. Opera music director James Conlon said, “born with the great voice where strength predates technique. It’s a round, large voice.”

“A lot of people force their voices, they either yell or scream, which decays the quality of the sound. Morris himself is big, and that voice is right there without him having to make it that way, so he can sing with beautiful rounded sounds.”

Morris Robinson and Brenton Ryan in L.A. Opera’s “The Abduction From the Seraglio.” (Craig T. Mathew / Mathew Imaging)

With this level of vocal entitlement, Robinson might seem to be a natural. But throughout his life he seemed to ignore, even actively ward off, singing — though it was always around him.

Raised in a musical clan in Atlanta, Robinson had a dad, mom and three young sisters who all sang. Around 6, he participated in a church choir and then the Atlanta Boy Choir, alternately immersed in religious and secular music.  But singing was at best a backdrop, maybe even an obstacle. “I felt like I could do something special, but I could never figure out what it was,” he said.

“At first, I always was in the choirs, but to me, at heart, I was a drummer. Because if you’re going to be in a church in the South, there has to be rhythm. It was always about beats, beats, beats.”

He entered a performing arts high school. His senior year he made all-city band and all-state chorus.

But all he really cared about?

Continue reading

“Love Jones The Musical” Kicks Off National Tour in Oklahoma on September 9

Love Jones

Love Jones The Musical Tours Nationally This Fall

article via eurweb.com

“Love Jones The Musical,” a stage adaptation of the critically acclaimed 1997 Love Jones film, is scheduled to tour nationally this Fall/Winter. The stage production will boast an all-star cast of R&B music’s biggest names including Chrisette Michelle, Musiq Soulchild, Marsha Ambrosius, MC Lyte, Raheem Devaughn and Dave Hollister, who were all carefully selected to star in the must see musical event of the year. Love Jones The Musical will debut in Oklahoma City on September 9th.

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the popular romantic comedy, the stage play takes the essence of the film and tells its story through music. Fusing chart-topping hits and fan favorite songs from the music artists, along with a few original songs, Love Jones The Musical will be a transformative experience for the audience.

Produced by veteran theater producer Melvin Childs of Produced By Faith with stage play written by Timothy Allen Smith and directed by Zadia Ife, Love Jones The Musical tells the universal and timeless story of love, heartbreak and starting over. The film’s original writer and director, Theodore Witcher, serves as consulting producer.

To read more, go to: http://www.eurweb.com/2016/08/love-jones-the-musical-tours-nationally-this-fall/

Tony Award Winner Daveed Diggs of ‘Hamilton’ Joins ABC’s ‘Black-ish’ in Season 3

Daveed Diggs Tony Awards

Daveed Diggs at the 2016 Tony Awards (EVAN AGOSTINI/INVISION/AP)

article by Maureen Ryan via Variety.com

When the third season of “Black-ish” arrives, the Johnson family will expand.  Fresh from the Broadway smash “Hamilton,” Daveed Diggs will have a major Season 3 arc as Rainbow Johnson’s brother, Johan, Variety can exclusively reveal. 

Bow (Tracee Ellis Ross) and Johan, whose mother is a very laid-back, hippie-ish soul, had very different childhoods than Dre, and that’s partly why Johan will be a frequent thorn in Dre’s side. Dre Johnson (Anthony Anderson) has always feared that his kids will grow up to be overly pampered, and it sounds like Johan is the personification of those fears. 

“He’s sort of a hipster, entitled kid who gets on Dre’s nerves,” creator and showrunner Kenya Barris said. “He’s constantly on a search for the best conditioner for his hair. He’s probably gone to Penn or Wharton and could have gotten a great-paying job, but he’s trying to find himself. That attitude more than anything makes Dre want to strangle him.”

For Diggs, who won a Tony for playing Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette in “Hamilton,” there’s even a tiny link to French culture.  Johan “has been to Paris twice and he’s like, ‘You Americans!’” Barris said. Johan, as it happens, doesn’t like his butter to be too cold and complains about Americans’ mania for refrigeration. “He’s like, ‘This butter’s making my croissant crumble,’” according to Barris. “Dre is constantly snatching food from him.” 

The upside for Johan, who will have a “substantial” recurring arc in the third season, is that the Johnson kids think he’s extremely cool — except for Diane (Marsai Martin). “She’s not buying that sh*t,” Barris said. 

Though Barris didn’t give an exact timetable, Diggs’ character will turn up “early” in Season 3. It’s not the actor’s only high-profile new role, by the way. Diggs has also lined up roles in the upcoming film “Wonder” and the HBO sports mockumentary “Tour de Pharmacy.”

To read more, go to: http://variety.com/2016/tv/news/black-ish-daveed-diggs-kenya-barris-1201818550/

Jerald Gary, 30, Buys Historic Regal Theater in Chicago to Restore and Use with Art Non-Profits

IMG_7736

Jerald Gary (Photo credit: Melanie L. Brown for Steed Media Service)

article by Melanie L. Brown via rollingout.com

Rolling out interviewed Jerald Gary, the new owner of the New Regal Theater in Chicago. The 30-year-old talked about his memories of the Regal and how he came to acquire this historic building on the South Side.

Who is Jerald Gary?

I am a private equity investor. I bought the Regal Theater in 2014 to provide access to the performing arts for the community. I created the Chicago Regal Foundation to use the theater as a cultural asset that the community can leverage through various arts nonprofits. My day to day is figuring out how to render capital of the community more active and productive.

What is some history that you’ve heard about the Regal?

When I was growing up, the Regal was really in its prime. It reopened in 1987. It revived in 85′. I think it took them two years to do renovation, reopened it in 1987, and got it a landmark right there in ’92. Matter of fact, Mayor Harold Washington facilitated some money because doing the political thing for office in return was bringing dollars into the community. I got a picture of Ed Gardner and Harold Washington right there in the lobby. Harold was giving Ed a million-dollar check for the restoration. I saw a flyer the other day, it was Tupac and Biggie’s first time in Chicago on the Regal Theater stage. They were introducing a new [act], 17-year-old Kanye West, at the bottom of the flyer. Crucial Conflict was at the show, Da Brat was at the show, Common was at the show and a couple of other artists, at one show. That was the type of stuff that was going on. I [saw] Common and told him I was about to buy the Regal Theater and he stated how he thought Beyoncé and Jay were going to buy it. There was no Regal Theater from the mid ’70s until Avalon Theater was restored and they did the New Regal in 1987.

Who were some of the people that got their start with plays here?

Tyler Perry got his start at the Regal Theater. I was too young to go to his stuff but I remember his bus being in the parking lot. He was sleeping in his bus. It was a lot of church plays here.

Have you thought about changing the name from the New Regal Theater?

Yes, so we are going to change the name to Avalon Regal Theater because the building we’re in is the Avalon, which was from 1927 up until the mid ’70s. It was the Operation Regal Theater in Bronzeville so at the time so we had a lot of Irish German immigrants who lived here who came here for shows. Somebody came to me and said ” Wait right here.” The person came back and gave me a flyer from 1929 of a silent movie/music dance with the orchestra pit. They would do that type of stuff here until like the ’60s. It was mostly a movie house before they had multiplexes, this was the spot to come and see movies. A lot of white people come to me and say they use to come to Avalon and use to watch cartoons on Saturday. That’s the heritage as well, we want to preserve. The whole legacy of the Avalon Regal Theater (ART) is what we’re trying to get trending, the rich heritage of the South Side. The concept we have is we really feel this could be a Beale Street like in Memphis, [Tennessee]. They got like 20 or 30 music joints like on one strip, [along with] restaurants and bars. You can’t just have a venue and people can’t go get dinner before the show, a cocktail after the show. What you gonna get? Are you going to get robbed after the show? That’s what’s going to happen here now. Why can’t we have this [be] Beale Street? I feel like the South Side is like the Africa of the city. I think we have the opportunity to do crazy stuff like they did in Dubai. It’s cheap to do. We bought the Regal for $100,000. When I say “we” I mean the companies I chair. We bought it from the FDIC. It took us about nine months to negotiate because it’s a landmark. We had to get a blessing from a commissioner. We got about $7 million dollars worth of work to do. Three million dollars of that is on the facade. We probably are going to do a Kickstarter campaign.

When do you plan on opening?

We hope to be running by 2017.

How can people get more information about the Regal?

They can go to www.regaltheater.org and it has a lot of information about the project and the Regal itself.

To read full article, go to: http://rollingout.com/2016/06/03/new-regal-theater-868707/

RISE UP: Why “Hamilton: An American Musical” is Still a Must-See

Cast of "Hamilton" (

Cast of “Hamilton: An American Musical” performing “My Shot” (photo via nytimes.com)

The first song I heard from the Hamilton soundtrack was “My Shot.”  This song, the third one in the first act, serves the important role of introducing the ten-dollar-founding-father-without-a-father Alexander Hamilton: his burning ambition, his sophisticated oratory, his commitment to revolution.  But the verse that hit me the hardest, that immediately told me that something exceptional was going on with this show, was this one, sung by young abolitionist John Laurens (played by Anthony Ramos):

 

Rise Up!

When you’re living on your knees, you rise up

Tell your brother that he’s gotta rise up

Tell your sister that she’s gotta rise up

This verse — in the show an exhortation to the 18th century colonists to revolt against the British government — is universal and timely enough to be a rallying cry for any recent social justice movement.  As soon as I heard it, I knew Hamilton was trying to do something special.  Without being didactic or preachy, Hamilton was telling people to stand up for their rights, take a seat at the table, and participate in America.  

Much ink has been spilled about Hamilton: about its innovative hip-hop structure, its diverse cast, its best-selling cast album (including time at No.1 on the Billboard Rap charts), its unprecedented popularity on Broadway, its brilliant and social media-savvy creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, its eleven Tony awards.  But despite its runaway popular success, and its seemingly universal appeal, Hamilton feels to me — and I suspect to many fans — deeply personal.  As a mixed-race person, a lawyer who attended the same college as Hamilton, a federal government employee, and a life-long musical theatre nerd, the combination of the music, the lyrics, and the cast feels urgent and relevant.  

Jessica Davis (l), Tony Ramos (m), Julie Bibb Davis (r) [photo courtesy Julie Bibb Davis]

Jessica Davis (l), “Hamilton” cast member Anthony Ramos (c) and Julie Bibb Davis (r) [photo courtesy Julie Bibb Davis]

For my teenage children, who follow the charismatic and thoughtful cast on Instagram and Snapchat, it has made American history feel applicable to their daily lives in a way their school classes never have.  And when we were fortunate enough to see the show on Broadway, watching the diverse cast play the (white) American founders, and seeing how Miranda has also worked to make what has usually been understood as being primarily a story of men include the contributions of women, had an impact that cannot be overstated.

Hamilton shows the influence of American musical theatre traditions that range from Rodgers & Hammerstein to Sondheim to Disney.  The show is most solidly rooted, however, in black musical traditions.  Hamilton’s hip-hop and rap songs have garnered the most attention, but that only scratches the surface.  “What’d I Miss” is a wonderful homage to Cab Calloway, with elements of ragtime and even funk.  

“The Schuyler Sisters” echoes groups like Destiny’s Child, “Wait for It” starts with a dancehall reggae beat, and “Say No To This” is an R&B slow jam straight out of the 90s.  In addition, most of the original main case is black, including Okieriete Onadowan (Mulligan/Madison), Tony nominee Chris Jackson (Washington), and Tony winners Leslie Odom, Jr. (Burr), Renee-Elise Goldsberry (Anjelica), and Daveed Diggs (Lafayette/Jefferson).   Continue reading

“Hamilton” Governs 2016 Tony Awards; Four Black Actors Win in Major Categories

"Hamilton" wins big at the 2016 Tony Awards

“Hamilton” wins big at the 2016 Tony Awards (photo via theepochtimes.com)

article via newsone.com

The 70th Annual Tony Awards set the bar for diversity on Sunday evening as several actors and actresses of color were recognized for their work; a major difference from the #OscarsSoWhite controversy that ensued earlier this year. For the first time in the ceremony’s history, four musical acting awards were nabbed by Black actors.

Broadway hit show Hamilton took home eleven awards including Best Musical, Best Lead Actor, which was won by Leslie Odom, Jr., Best Featured Actor, which was given to Daveed Diggs, and Best Featured Actress, which was awarded to Renee Elise Goldsberry. Cynthia Erivo won Best Lead Actress for her role in the revival of The Color Purple.

The nominees for different categories were diverse as well. Both Christopher Jackson from Hamilton and Brandon Victor Dixon from Shuffle Along were in the running for best featured actor. Diggs said diverse productions like Hamilton serve as inspiration for young children of color who want to get involved in theater. “There is so much diversity on Broadway right now,” he said“It’s nice to have it feeling a little more mainstream and a lot more inclusive.”

See a full list of winners below:

Best Musical
Hamilton (WINNER)
Bright Star
School of Rock—The Musical
Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed
Waitress

Best Play
The Humans (WINNER)
Eclipsed
The Father
King Charles III

Best Revival of a Musical
The Color Purple (WINNER)
Fiddler on the Roof
She Loves Me
Spring Awakening

Best Revival of a Play
Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge (WINNER)
Arthur Miller’s The Crucible
Blackbird
Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Noises Off

Best Book of a Musical
Hamilton: Lin-Manuel Miranda (WINNER)
Bright Star: Steve Martin
School of Rock—The Musical: Julian Fellowes
Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed:George C. Wolfe

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
Hamilton (WINNER)

Music & Lyrics: Lin-Manuel Miranda

Bright Star
Music: Steve Martin and Edie Brickell
Lyrics: Edie Brickell

School of Rock—The Musical
Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics: Glenn Slater

Waitress
Music & Lyrics: Sara Bareilles

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Frank Langella, The Father (WINNER)
Gabriel Byrne, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Jeff Daniels, Blackbird
Tim Pigott-Smith, King Charles III
Mark Strong, Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge
Continue reading