Lapacazo, What Do You Know? I know about the theater Here is a mini review to help you make good theater decisions.
African-Americans and all people of color and diversity, also attend theater and purchase tickets on Broadway for a myriad of shows. We are, God Bless Our Collective Souls, a curious people and capable of indescribable depths of empathy. The lives of quirky, challenged characters, that are the fabric of the very best theater is something — dare I say — we understand instinctively. Toss in good music and we become the backbone of a loyal following that can make or break a project.
Here is a mini review of recent Broadway shows and I am going to use my “Harlem Rating:” four $ signs = great.
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (3 Tony nominations) $$$$
This well reviewed revived musical comedy (1964) is powerful and honors the ebullience of the human spirit, as embodied by the lead character, Tevye, living in a Russian shtetl in the early 20th, and played by Danny Burstein, a Broadway veteran and five-time Tony nominee. He’s so good in the role that it made my knees buckle. Choreographer, Hofesh Shechter, nominated for a Tony this year, demonstrated that dance is an essential part of storytelling.
ECLIPSED (6 Tony nominations) $$$$
Danai Gurira wrote this soul searching and unflinching peek into the lives of women, caught in the brutal violence of Liberian civil war. It’s perfect. Under the careful hands of Tony nominated director, Liesl Tommy, a native of South Africa and the first African/African-American woman to be nominated for a Tony Award, demonstrates that as a storyteller, Tommy is born to her profession.
THE COLOR PURPLE (4 Tony nominations) $$$$
Hallelujah, seems the right word to encompass this stripped down version of the musical, based on the novel written by Alice Walker. In a tweet [quote] Lin-Manuel Miranda said that he “went to church” after watching a matinee performance. The heart-pounding gospel-atomic powered musical is making Tony nominated Cynthia Erivo, a new star and giving theater credibility to Danielle Brooks, nominated for a Tony award, under “featured in a musical category.”
ON YOUR FEET! THE STORY OF EMILO and GLORIA ESTEFAN (1 Tony nomination) $$$
The music of the Estefefan empire and the performances of Ana Villafañe (as Ms. Estefan) and Josh Segarra (Emilo) make this a must see. Under Tony nominated choreographer, Sergio Trujillo, the sizzling dance numbers bring audiences to their feet. The strong ensemble of dancers include Luis Salgado who also acts as dance captain for this vibrant production.
At the meet the Tony nominees event this “birdy heard”: :
Renee Elise Goldsberry (Hamilton) : “Hamilton reflects a huge part of our culture, our story, our people and it connects to the truth and they understand.” Daveed Diggs (Hamilton) is nominated for best performance by an actor in a musical for playing two roles—Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson: “Lafayette, has no problem breaking the 4th wall. I come out blowing kisses and waving to the audience. While playing Jefferson that does not happen. He is aware of everything and is just waiting for a moment to connect.“
Brandon Victor Dixon (Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed) highlighted that the original musical, Shuffle Along, which debuted in 1921, was ground breaking: “It was the first musical with a jazz score among other firsts. That includes launching the careers of Josephine Baker, Paul Robeson, and Florence Mills who became the biggest entertainment star — white or black — at the time. There are many milestones that Shuffle Along created that no one really knows anything about, yet.”
Eclipsed producers Stephen C. Byrd and Alia Jones-Harvey, the only lead African-American producers on Broadway, the six time nominated play is making history again with the nomination for South African born director, Liesl Tommy: “Liesl Tommy is the first woman of color to be nominated in the category of best direction for a play. There has only been three female Broadway directors—ever—and our company has debuted two of them: Debbie Allen with “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” and now, Tony nominee, Liesl Tommy.”
www.tonyawards.com - June 12th on CBS