Tag: Broadway

Lupita Nyong’o Speaks on Colorism and More Opportunities for People of Color

Lupita Nyong’o (Photo: Courtesy of Vogue)

article by Erica Schwiegershausen via nymag.com

In the October issue of Vogue, three-time cover girl Lupita Nyong’o talks about growing up in Nairobi, and her desire to see more African narratives represented in Hollywood and beyond. “I want to create opportunities for other people of color because I’m fortunate enough to have a platform to do that,” she said.

Recently, Nyong’o starred in “Eclipsed” on Broadway, playing a 15-year-old girl held captive by a rebel officer in Liberia. In her latest film, “Queen of Katwe,” she plays the mother of a Ugandan girl who becomes an international chess master. (The film opens next week.) And she’s also working on the forthcoming film adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Americanah“— a love story that centers around two Nigerians.

“Being able to use my platform to expand and diversify the African voice … I feel very passionate about that. It feels intentional, meaningful,” Nyong’o said.  She was drawn to “Queen of Katwe,” she said, because it was “based on a true story, an uplifting story out of Africa.”  Nyong’o also reflected — not for the first time — on the significance of seeing darker-skinned women represented and celebrated as beautiful.

Alek Wek changed how dark people saw themselves,” she said. “That I could do the same in a way for somebody somewhere is amazing.” She added, “The European sense of beauty affects us all. I came home from college in the early two-thousands and saw ads on TV with a girl who can’t get a job. She uses this product. She gets her skin lighter. She gets the job. The lording of lighter skin is a common thing growing up in Nairobi. Being called ‘black mamba.’ The slow burn of recognizing something else is better than you.”

Working on the set of “Queen of Katwe,” Nyong’o said a young Ugandan-British woman came up to her and said: “I’ve never had so many people call me beautiful until you showed up. I get called to auditions I never would have been called to before. I know it’s because you exist.”

Source: Lupita Nyong’o Wants Opportunities for People of Color

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/

“Hamilton” Breaks Tonys Record with 16 Nominations

Shortly after the news broke that “Hamilton” had landed 16 Tony Award nominations, the musical’s director, Thomas Kail, sent a text to choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler and others on the show’s creative team. “I just woke up. What happened?” Kail asked facetiously.

What happened, as it turned out, was one for the Broadway record books.

“Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop musical about America’s founding fathers, wrote its own piece of history Tuesday morning. After selling out theaters and becoming a cultural sensation since it opened on Broadway last summer, the show has now broken the record of 15 Tony nominations previously held by “The Producers” (2001) and “Billy Elliot” (2009).

In the top category of best musical, “Hamilton” will compete, nominally, against Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “School of Rock,” the small-town charmer “Waitress,” the Appalachian bluegrass piece “Bright Star” and the race-themed meta-tale “Shuffle Along, or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed.”

But those other shows may consider it an honor just to be nominated. “Hamilton” is considered by nearly all experts to be a shoo-in to win for best musical, and it will aim for the record of 12 Tony wins (set by “The Producers”) when theater’s biggest night kicks off June 12 on CBS from New York’s Beacon Theatre.

“Hamilton” was boosted by multiple nominations in acting categories, including lead actor (Miranda and Leslie Odom Jr., the latter a front-runner) and featured actor (Daveed Diggs, Christopher Jackson and Jonathan Groff). “Hamilton” also will compete for score, choreography and direction of a musical, among others.

The nominations continue a magic-carpet ride that began with a Miranda performance of a “Hamilton Mixtape” at the White House in 2009, continued with an august run at downtown’s Public Theater in early 2015 and then a building juggernaut after opening at the Richard Rodgers in the summer.

The record set Tuesday is an industry capper of sorts on what had become the most unlikely of phenomena: a Broadway musical, often regarded as the narrowest of cultural niches, becoming a crossover hit and a gateway to a larger discussion about history and race.

“Someone asked me today if this is all old hat,” the newly minted Tony nominee Blankenbuehler recalled from the North Carolina set of “Dirty Dancing,” where, in part thanks to the success of “Hamilton” he is choreographing the new ABC reboot. “And I said, ‘Are you kidding? I’m still like a kid in a candy store.’ We all are.”

Miranda, at 36 already one of the theater world’s most influential creators, offered his own valedictory, noting in a statement that “for ‘Hamilton’ to receive a record-breaking number of nominations is an honor so humbling it’s so far been beyond my comprehension.”

To read more, go to: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/culture/la-et-cm-tony-nominations-20160502-snap-story.html

Broadway Smash “Hamilton” Wins Pulitzer Prize for Drama

"Hamilton"
“Hamilton” (photo via Variety.com)

article by Gordon Cox, Brent Lang via Variety.com

“Hamilton,” the Broadway smash that’s looked like an awards-season favorite from the moment it opened, has been awarded the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Although it’s rare for a musical to the win the drama prize over plays, “Hamilton” had nonetheless looked like a lock for the Pulitzer, given its link to American history and the fresh, contemporary resonances it finds in the nation’s foundational moments. (The most recent musicals to nab the Pulitzer were the 2010 show “Next to Normal” and 1996’s “Rent.”)

The Pulitzer win could be the first of many victories for “Hamilton.” Much of the theater industry considers the show’s sweep of the Tony Awards as a foregone conclusion. “The Humans,” Stephen Karam’s subtly drawn portrait of one American family’s anxieties, was one of the few obvious titles that seemed likely to give “Hamilton” a little competition; that play was named a 2016 finalist, as was Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ “Gloria.” “Hamilton’s” victory came during the centennial year for the Pulitzers, which recognize excellence in the arts and in journalism.

The Associated Press won the gold medal in public service, considered by many to be the top Prize, for its probe into labor abuses in the seafood business.

“The Sympathizer,” debut novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen’s look at a Vietnamese spy, took the fiction prize, while “Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS,” Joby Warrick’s look at the Islamic terrorist group, nabbed the non-fiction statue. T.J. Stiles won his second Pulitzer in the biography category for “Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America.”

The New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum captured the criticism prize, one of two awards for the magazine. The other came in the feature writing category, where Kathryn Schulz was honored for her look at how the Cascadia fault line could lead to environmental disaster. Magazines have only been eligible for Pulitzers for a year. New Yorker staff writer William Finnegan was also honored in biography for his surfing memoir “Barbarian Days.”

To read more, go to: http://variety.com/2016/legit/news/pulitzers-2016-hamilton-pulitzer-prize-drama-1201755578/

“Hamilton” Documentary to Air on PBS this Fall

Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr in the musical “Hamilton” at the Richard Rodgers Theater.
Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr in the musical “Hamilton” at the Richard Rodgers Theater. (Photo Credit: Sara Krulwich/The New York Times)

The hit musical “Hamilton” will be the subject of a documentary film scheduled to air on PBS this fall.

The public broadcasting network announced Monday that it would air “Hamilton’s America” as part of its Great Performances series this fall.

The documentary is being produced by RadicalMedia, which previously made a documentary about “In the Heights,” a musical composed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who also created “Hamilton.” The film company has a long relationship with Mr. Miranda and with Jeffrey Seller, the lead producer of “Hamilton.” RadicalMedia also previously filmed Freestyle Love Supreme, a hip-hop-improv group with which Mr. Miranda performs, as well as the final Broadway performance of “Rent,” a musical that was co-produced by Mr. Seller.

The filmmakers started shooting the documentary in 2013, two years before the show arrived on Broadway, and have footage of visits by the creative team to historic sites associated with Alexander Hamilton, whose life is the basis of the musical. The film will also feature scenes from the show, and a look at the life of Hamilton, according to Dave Sirulnick, one of RadicalMedia’s executives.

The making of “Hamilton” has been heavily chronicled in print and on television, and Mr. Miranda is now wrapping up a book about the show, but Mr. Sirulnick said that in the documentary “the storytelling is going to be very fresh” and will offer a close-up view of the creative team at work.

article by Michael Paulson via nytimes.com

HBO Drops Teaser for ‘Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill’ Starring Audra McDonald (VIDEO)

"Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill"
Audra McDonald as Billie Holiday in HBO’s “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill” (photo via blogs.indiewire.com)

Audra McDonald brings her acclaimed portrayal of Billie Holiday in the Broadway smash “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill” to HBO, with the exclusive presentation scheduled to debut Saturday, March 12, 2016.

Filmed before a live audience at Cafe Brasil in New Orleans, the special features McDonald in her history-making, tour de force performance as the jazz icon.

Originally written for off-Broadway by Lanie Roberston in 1987, the production tells Holiday’s life story through the songs that made her famous, including “God Bless the Child,” “What a Little Moonlight Can Do,” “Strange Fruit” and “Taint Nobody’s Biz-ness.”

McDonald made history and became Broadway’s most decorated performer when she won her sixth Tony Award, for “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill,” in 2014. In addition to setting the record for most competitive wins by an actor, she also became the first person to receive awards in all four acting categories. The show’s run at the Circle in the Square Theatre on Broadway was extended four times due to high demand.

“Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill” is directed by Lonny Price, who also directed the Broadway production, and produced by Allen Newman and Two Hands Entertainment. It was originally produced on Broadway by Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Jessica Genick and Will Trice.

The special will also be available on HBO NOW and HBO GO.

The network has released a first teaser which is embedded below:

article by Tambay A. Obenson via Shadow and Act

THEATER: Broadway Newbie Anthony Ramos Rips Up the Rules in ‘Hamilton’

“Hamilton” star Anthony Ramos (Photo: Courtesy of Anthony Ramos)

With ticket prices upwards of $1,500 and advanced sales of $57 million last November, “Hamilton” is an official Broadway juggernaut. Helmed by certified genius Lin-Manuel Miranda, the musical mixes rap, R&B and pop to tell the story of Alexander Hamilton’s ascent from penniless orphan to chief architect of the American financial system. The twist, if you haven’t heard, is that a person of color plays nearly every major character—including Hamilton, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr.

Miranda, who plays Alexander Hamilton, has said that “Hamilton” is “a story about America then, told by America now.” By casting people of color as the founders of our nation, “Hamilton” forces audiences to engage with bodies and voices that would have been categorically marginalized in colonial times.

“Hamilton” also sheds light on lesser-known figures of colonial America, including proto-abolitionist John Laurens. Laurens is played by Anthony Ramos, a 24-year-old Puerto Rican actor and singer from Brooklyn, New York. Ramos also plays Philip Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton’s eldest son. Here, in this edited and condensed interview, Ramos talks  about making his Broadway debut in a blockbuster show and his journey from the tough Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick to The Great White Way.

What’s the significance of having performers of color tell the story of the Founding Fathers? 

You ever look at a painting like, “Wow, that’s so good, but I really can’t wrap my brain around why this thing that is so obscure feels so right?” “Hamilton” is that kind of painting. No one’s ever seen anything like it, and I think it’s one of the boldest pieces of art ever to hit. It’s also honest because “Hamilton looks like how we look like now.

Can you explain more?

Lin could have written a show and had the Founding Fathers be all White men, but at the same time, the show’s about Alexander Hamilton. A lot of people didn’t know whether or not Hamilton, who grew up in the British West Indies, was half [Black]. They had no idea. So it’s only right to have the rest of the cast embody that. Daveed Diggs, who plays Thomas Jefferson, is half Jewish and half Black. Phillipa Soo,* who plays Hamilton’s wife, Eliza, is Irish and Chinese. Lin and I are Puerto Rican. Having men of color play the Founding Fathers shows that anyone could have done what they did. This is showing our public what it would have looked like if things were different.

Continue reading “THEATER: Broadway Newbie Anthony Ramos Rips Up the Rules in ‘Hamilton’”

“The Wiz” Lives on NBC this December as Live Musical Event

b_p_TheWizAccording to Variety.com, NBC has announced it will make its next live musical television event a remake of the 1975 Tony Award-winner “The Wiz.” The remake will air on December 3.

Opening in 1975, “The Wiz” ran for four years on Broadway and won seven Tonys, including best musical. It retells the classic story of “The Wizard of Oz” in an African-American context.

In 1978, the musical was adapted into a movie produced by Motown and starring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Nipsey Russell and original Broadway cast member Ted Ross. NBC’s announcement of the holiday television event comes at a time when broadcast networks are setting more diversified roles and casting more and more actors of color on TV, following the success of Fox’s “Empire” and ABC’s “How to Get Away With Murder,” among other series.

the wiz nbc musical
Cast of the 1978 “The Wiz” Movie (UNIVERSAL)

“The Wiz” marks NBC’s third such production, following the success of “The Sound of Music Live!,” starring Carrie Underwood, and “Peter Pan Live!,” starring Allison Williams as the title character.

“The Wiz” will be co-produced by Cirque du Soleil’s new stage theatrical division. After the television event, the musical will make its Broadway revival for the 2016-17 season, also presented by Cirque du Soleil.

Casting for both projects has yet to be announced. Continue reading ““The Wiz” Lives on NBC this December as Live Musical Event”

Russell Simmons Bringing Hip-Hop Musical “The Scenario” to Broadway in 2016

Russell Simmons hip hop musical
Russell Simmons (LARRY BUSACCA/GETTY IMAGES)

Russell Simmons is developing a hip-hop musical that will draw songs from hip-hop’s “golden age” from between the mid-1980s and the mid-1990s, in the same way that “Rock of Ages” pulled tunes from the hard-rock classics of the ’80s.

Simmons has teamed with “Rock of Ages” producer Big Block/Scott Prisand for the show, which aims to conjure the same fun, concert-like vibe that helped sustain the nearly six-year run of “Rock of Ages” on Broadway. The original story of “The Scenario” will be written by Dan Charnas, who wrote the book “The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop.”

The attachment of Simmons, who’ll produce through Def Pictures, lends “The Scenario” some notable cred. As the founder of Def Jam Recordings in 1984, he’s credited with playing a major role in hip-hop’s rise to the mainstream. He also founded the Def Comedy franchise in 1989, and he produced and conceived 2002 Broadway outing “Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam.”

Simmons and Big Block hope to get “The Scenario” into New York in late 2016, although they aren’t necessarily targeting Broadway. “Rock of Ages,” for instance, played an Off Broadway run before it shifted to Broadway; the producers could also consider putting the production in a nontraditional space outside the typical Broadway box.

“The Scenario” is being developed by a team of producers that includes Simmons, Def Pictures/Jake Stein, Big Block/Prisand, Scott Benson, Tom Pellegrini and Jamie Bendell, Brian Sher and Stella Bulichnikov.

article by Gordon Cox via Variety.com

The Good Things Black People Do, Give and Receive All Over The World
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