EllaRose Chary and Brandon James Gwinn are an award-winning writing team specializing in stories that take a fresh look at the queer community with cutting-edge music. They’ve been commissioned and produced by The Civilians/Encores! Off-Center at City Center, The Tank, Prospect Theater, 54 Below, Theatre C, All For One Theatre, NY Theatre Barn. They’ve been in residence at Ars Nova, Rhinebeck Writers Retreat/Triple R Residency, The O’Neill Theatre Center, Catwalk Institute, and The Polyphone Festival at UArts. They’ve been awarded grants from NAMT and Anna Sosenko Trust. As Dramatists Guild Fellows, they’ve been featured many times by the Guild and The Dramatists Guild Foundation, including in The Dramatist Magazine. Ella’s work has also been recognized as a Kleban Award Finalist, NYFA Fellowship Finalist, Kernodle New Play Award Finalist, and with Weston and BOH Cameronian Arts Awards. Brandon has been a Richard Rodgers Award Finalist, celebrated piano bar entertainer, LiveNation touring artist, and is also known for his work as a music producer. He produced and performed on the albums TWO BIRDS & ONE STONE by Trixie Mattel (Winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race Allstars 3), which debuted at #1 on the iTunes Top Albums chart and Billboard Heatseekers.
The online reading will take place on the 65th anniversary of Till’s murder at 4.p.m. PT. / 7 p.m. ET and be available for viewing at HERE.
The original director and cast of The Fountain Theatre‘s 2010, multiple award-winning production of The Ballad of Emmett Till by Ifa Bayeza will reunite for a live-streamed reading of the play on Friday, Aug. 28, which marks the 65th anniversary of Till’s murder. Tickets are $20.00.
In August, 1955, 14-year-old Emmett Till was visiting relatives in Money, Mississippi when he was accused of whistling at Carolyn Bryant, a white woman who was a cashier at a grocery store. Four days later, Bryant’s husband Roy and his half-brother J.W. Milam kidnapped Till, beat him and shot him in the head. The men were tried for murder, but an all-white, male jury acquitted them. Till’s murder and open casket funeral galvanized the emerging Civil Rights movement. Bryant recanted her story in 2017, admitting that the court testimony she gave more than six decades prior was false and stating “Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him.”
“As America is now being challenged to face its racist history, I can think of no project more worthy,” says Fountain artistic director Stephen Sachs. “In addition to being the 65th anniversary of the murder, Aug. 28 also marks the 57th Anniversary of the historic March on Washington in 1963, and a 2020 march on Washington is being planned this year, on that date, as well.”Part history, part mystery and part ghost story, Bayeza’s lyrical integration of past, present, fact and legend turns Emmett’s story into a soaring work of music, poetic language and riveting theatricality. The Fountain’s 2010 West Coast premiere was twice extended and won a combined total of 14 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, Ovation, Backstage and NAACP awards for production, direction, playwriting and ensemble. Bernard K. Addison, Rico E. Anderson, Lorenz Arnell, Adenrele Ojo and Karen Malina White will reprise their roles for the online reading, with Shirley Jo Finney again at the helm.
Read the full article from Broadway World here.
‘Little Shop of Horrors’ in Pasadena: Secrets of a radically reconceived Audrey II
“Strange.” “Weird.” “Exotic little beauty.” “Like something from another world.”
These are ways in which the plant of “Little Shop of Horrors” is initially described by its characters. They’re perplexed by its presence, its mysterious origins, its unidentifiable genus. But the botanical fascination is so enticing that it boosts the business of a skid row flower shop — and convinces its caretaker to commit a bit of murder in exchange for fame and fortune.
Countless stagings of the Howard Ashman-Alan Menken musical have remained visually devout to the sprout that debuted off-off-Broadway in 1982. Based on the 1960 Roger Corman cult classic and popularized by Frank Oz’s 1986 musical film, the Faustian fable has been mounted again and again with a green, podlike growth resembling a Venus flytrap and a bountiful head of lettuce.
“The classic look can be nostalgic but also predictable,” said Mike Donahue, who directed the Pasadena Playhouse production set to close Sunday. “All of the language that’s in the piece is about how the plant stands out, how it catches people’s eyes immediately when people are walking by. There’s gotta be something about it that, in this drab and depressed and bleak world, just pops.” Advertisement
The Playhouse questioned those optical expectations and answered with a radical redesign of the plant, Audrey II, nicknamed Twoey. Housed in a large tomato can, its flower is a fantastic fuchsia hue, the five appendage-like tendrils glistening and sparkling. When closed, a bud of polka dot petals resembles a head with lips. It opens into a lily with a playful yellow tongue. This Twoey is indeed a new sight for those onstage and in the audience, and now that the run is ending, her secrets are being revealed in new photos presented exclusively here.
“I wanted to make something that seems alien and extraterrestrial but also that gives an emotional reaction — you can’t help but smile,” said Sean Cawelti, who led the show’s puppet design, direction and choreography. “And when the plant opens its petals for the first time and reveals what’s inside, it’s not inherently scary but surprisingly whimsical and magical.”
Fear is the furthest thing from anyone’s mind during the song “Grow for Me.” A first version of Twoey — which “faints” via remote control — is swiftly swapped for a rod puppet plant with hard-to-spot cables controlled by three puppeteers under a metal table.
Read the full review by Ashley Lee from the LA Times here.
On Monday, Oct. 7th, 2019, the original cast of THE HELLO GIRLS, Music and Lyrics by Peter Mills, Book by Peter Mills and Cara Reichel, performed in Washington D.C. at the Kennedy Center as part of the ASCAP songwriters’ series on the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage.
Learn more about THE HELLO GIRLS here.
From New York to Paris, from ragtime to jazz — an ensemble of actor-musicians chronicles the story of America’s first women soldiers, The Hello Girls. These intrepid heroines served as bilingual telephone operators on the front lines, helping turn the tide of World War I. They then returned home to fight a decades-long battle for equality and recognition, paving the way for future generations.
Nominated for three Drama Desk Awards and four Outer Critics Circle Awards, The Hello Girls has music and lyrics by Peter Mills, and a book by Mills and Cara Reichel, with direction by Cara Reichel, choreography by Christine O’Grady, and music direction by Ben Moss. Orchestrations are by Peter Mills and Ben Moss, with additional drum arrangements by Elena Bonomo. Produced by Prospect Theater Company, the musical ran from November 13-December 22, 2018 at 59E59 Theaters.
The cast featured Ellie Fishman (Finding Neverland), Arlo Hill (The Most Happy Fella at Encores!), Chanel Karimkhani (The Goree All Girl String Bandat New York Musical Festival), Andrew Mayer (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812), Matthew McGloin (CasablancaBox at HERE Arts), Ben Moss (Spring Awakening), Lili Thomas (Disney Millennium Symphonies with the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall), Skyler Volpe (West Side Story at Barrington Stage), Cathryn Wake (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812), and Scott Wakefield (Hands on a Hardbody). Elena Bonomo (Waitress) was the percussionist.
Learn more from Broadway World here.