Tag: Paul Robeson

Tony Winner Audra McDonald Announces Broadway Return Alongside George C. Wolfe and Savion Glover for 2016 Musical “Shuffle Along”

Audra McDonald will return to Broadway in 2016, in collaboration with George C. Wolfe and Savion Glover.
Audra McDonald will return to Broadway in 2016, in collaboration with George C. Wolfe and Savion Glover. (© David Gordon)

Six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald will return to Broadway in spring 2016 in a new collaboration with Tony-winning director George C. Wolfe and Tony-winning choreographer Savion Glover. The collaboration is called Shuffle Along, or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Follows. The production begins previews March 14, 2016, at the Music Box Theatre, with opening night set for April 21.

McDonald will play Lottie Gee, the 1920s performer who appeared in the cast of Shuffle Along. This 1921 musical by Flournoy Miller, Aubrey Lyles, Eubie Blake, and Noble Sissle altered the face of Broadway in giving several black performers their first Broadway credits. The show helped launch the careers of Josephine Baker, Florence Mills, and Paul Robeson, among many others.

Ninety-five years later, this backstage musical will explore the creation of this now-forgotten show. Wolfe directs and pens the book, while Glover choreographs. It marks their first collaboration since their 1996 hit Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk. The production will have music supervision, arrangements, and orchestrations by Daryl Waters, scenic design by Santo Loquasto, costume design by Ann Roth, and lighting design by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer. Scott Rudin serves as producer.

Additional information about the production will be revealed in the coming months.

article by David Gordon via theatermania.com

Director Steve McQueen and Harry Belafonte Join Forces for Paul Robeson Film

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Director Steve McQueen backstage at the Tracy Reese fashion show during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2015 at Art Beam on Sept. 7, 2014, in New York City. (VIVIEN KILLILEA/GETTY IMAGES)

Earlier this year, Steve McQueen earned three Oscars for his film 12 Years a Slave, which told the story of Solomon Northup and his fight for freedom after being captured and forced into slavery. McQueen’s telling of Northup’s story not only opened up a bit of history many people never knew about but also gave insight into what McQueen’s thought process is when it comes to making a film. And his next film isn’t any different.

Speaking at the Hidden Heroes Awards in New York City on Monday, McQueen revealed to the attendees that his next movie will be about Paul Robeson. Robeson was the quintessential Renaissance man, from his early start as a scholar and athlete at Rutgers University to singing his well-known song “Ol’ Man River.” Outside of the arts, Robeson was also a powerful voice during the civil rights movement. But some of his political views weren’t always welcome. During the McCarthy era, Robeson was labeled a communist and blacklisted, but that didn’t stop him from expressing his opinion.

“His life and legacy was the film I wanted to make the second after Hunger. But I didn’t have the power, I didn’t have the juice,” McQueen said, according to The Guardian. McQueen also credits a neighbor for piquing his interest about Robeson when he passed an article to him.

“It was about this black guy who was in Wales and was singing with these miners,” McQueen recalled. “I was about 14 years old, and not knowing who Paul Robeson was, this black American in Wales, it seemed strange. So then, of course, I just found out that this man was an incredible human being.”

Not only will McQueen’s movie look into various aspects of Robeson’s life, but he’ll also have the help of Robeson’s friend, the iconic Harry Belafonte. Although Belafonte’s role in the film has yet to be discussed, the award-winning actor said only good things about McQueen.

“We get on like a house on fire,” McQueen told The Guardian. “I never thought I’d make a new friend, and a man who is 87 years old, but I’m very happy. He’s a beautiful man.”

McQueen hasn’t revealed who he has in mind to play Robeson, but he’s definitely eager to start working with Belafonte. “Miracles do happen. With Paul Robeson and Harry Belafonte, things have come full circle, “McQueen stated.

article by Yesha Callahan via theroot.com

Harry Belafonte Receives Academy’s Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award

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According to Deadline.com, Harry Belafonte was honored last night at the Sixth Annual Governors Awards of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.  Belafonte received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and during his speech, galvanized the industry crowd by asking them to aim higher.

Belafonte gave one of the all-time great acceptance speeches at the Governors Awards, citing Hollywood’s often-shameful power to influence attitudes, and challenging the heavy-hitters in the room to instead create works that allow global audiences “to see the better side of who we are as a species.”

He reminded the crowd about “Birth of a Nation,” the early “Tarzan” films (depicting “inept, ignorant Africans”) and “Song of the South,” as well as the industry’s cowardice during the McCarthy hearings. He also referred to the industry’s decades-long treatment of Native Americans in films, “and at the moment, Arabs aren’t looking so good.” The industry doesn’t like trouble-makers and “on occasion, I have been one of its targets.”

But he said that “today’s harvest of films yields sweeter fruit,” citing “Schindler’s List,” “Brokeback Mountain” and “12 Years a Slave” as examples. He also thanked such inspirations as Langston HughesJames BaldwinEleanor Roosevelt and Paul Robeson, quoting the latter’s statement that “Artists are the gatekeepers of truth” as well as the radical voice of civilization.

He then called Sidney Poitier to the stage, recognizing the actor’s role in changing public attitudes toward blacks. And he added that he hopes things will improve this century: “Maybe it could be a civilization game-changer.”

Other Governors Awards winners were 94 year-old actress Maureen O’Hara, legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, and masterful screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere gave a moving tribute to Hollywood’s “forgotten” writers.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

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