2019 Tony Award Winners André De Shields and Harold Wheeler Among the Celebrity Guests at National Black Theatre Festival® Gala in Winston-Salem on July 29

2019 Tony Award winners André De Shields and Harold Wheeler are among the celebrity guests who will attend the National Black Theatre Festival® Gala in Winston-Salem on July 29.

André De Shields, winner of the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical for “Hadestown” and Harold Wheeler, winner of the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre at Radio City Music Hall on June 9, 2019 in New York City. Photo by Lia Chang

The National Black Theatre Festival® (NBTF) will take place from Monday, July 29th – Saturday, August 3rd. The NCBRC is celebrating its 40th anniversary, while the NBTF celebrates its 30th. For additional information and a schedule of events, visit www.nbtf.org.

The NBTF is one of the most historic and culturally significant events in the history of black theatre and is produced by The North Carolina Black Repertory Company (NCBRC). NBTF is the only theatre festival in the country offering six consecutive days of professional theatre. Other components of the festival include workshops, a reader’s theatre of new works, a film festival, a poetry jam, a youth celebrity project, a vendor’s market, and The International Colloquium. NBTF officials have also created exciting events for teens during Festival week with TEENtastic. Events include a dance contest and workshops. More than 60,000 people are expected to attend the event, along with celebrities from stage, screen, and television. The event has more than an $8 million impact on the economy of Winston-Salem, known as Black Theatre Holy Ground.

Acclaimed actors Margaret Avery and Chester Gregory will serve as celebrity co-chairs. Avery has starred in many productions on stage and screen. She subsequently received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Shug Avery in the classic film, The Color Purple. Gregory is the only artist in the National Black Theatre Festival’s history to headline three times. After starring in the iconic role as Jackie Wilson at the Festival’s star-studded Opening Night Gala. he starred in Broadway productions with leading roles in Disney’s Tarzan, Cry-Baby, Shrek The Musical, Dreamgirls, Sister Act and Motown The Musical as Berry Gordy.

5:30pm – OPENING NIGHT GALA – $265 (#1)
Make reservations for this glamorous event.
Tickets $265 per person, $2,650 table seating 10.

With NBTF Co-Chairs, Margaret Avery and Chester Gregory.


DeWitt Fleming Jr.

9:00pm – JELLY’S LAST JAM – $100 (#1A) – Performance only (BALCONY SEAT)

The Opening Night Gala Performance of Jelly’s Last Jam, presented by the North Carolina Black Repertory Company, will feature DeWitt Fleming Jr., Stanley Wayne Mathis and Idella Johnson.

The Tony award-winning musical tells the true story of Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe, a.k.a. Jelly Roll Morton, the self-proclaimed “inventor of Jazz.” Featuring explosive dance and an original score inspired by the best musical traditions of New Orleans, Jelly’s Last Jam explores the complexities of African-American life, while celebrating its creative genius. Book by George C. Wolfe, Lyrics by Susan Birkenhead, Music by Jelly Roll Morton. Music adaptation and additional music composed by Luther Henderson. Directed by Jackie Alexander. (Musical – General Audience)


Mix and mingle with the honorees, celebrity guests and other theatre patrons.
(Marriott Hotel)

This year’s festival offers a wide range of theatrical performances, including dramas, comedies, musicals, choreoplays and multi-media productions. The shows will include other celebrity performances throughout the week, featuring actors like Vivian Reed, Michael Colyar, Mariann Aalda, Kevin Mambo.

André De Shields, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Harold Wheeler.

Celebrity guests also include Brian Stokes Mitchell, Lamman Rucker, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Keith David, Ledisi, Geoffrey Owens, Bern Nadete Stanis, Hal Williams, Idris Ackamoor, Lisa Arrindell, Taurean Blacque, Mychal Bella Bowman, Petri Hawkins Byrd, Erin Cherry, Colby Christina, Bill Cobb, Dewitt Fleming, Jr., Savion Glover, Elain Graham, Micki Grant, Fay Hauser, Femi Sarah Heggie, Tommy Hicks, Maria Howell, Elwanda Ingram, Ebony Jo-Ann, Idella Johnson, Rhodessa Jones, Aku Kadogo, Frenchie La’Vern, Ted Lange, Khalil Middleton, Qaasim Middleton, Barbara Montgomery, Gabriela Norwood, Xavier Pierce, Tonya Pinkins, Tonea Stewart, Herman LeVern Thompson-Jones, Darnell Williams, Hattie Winston and many more.

The festival will present over one hundred productions performed by more thirty professional theatre companies, several universities, including a production from Cape Town, South Africa.

“We are so excited about all of our main stage productions this year. Our selection committee did an excellent job. The talent we will be bringing to the 2019 NBTF will be Marvtastic and will reach audiences of all ages,” said Sylvia Sprinkle Hamlin, Executive Producer NBTF.

Leslie Uggams

NCBRC will honor some theatre greats during the award ceremony at the opening night gala including Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress Leslie Uggams. Ms. Uggams, whose illustrious career spans over six decades, will receive the Sidney Poitier Lifelong Achievement Award.

The 2019 National Black Theatre Festival Living Legend Award will be presented to Art Evans, Marjorie Moon, Roscoe Orman, and Thembi Mtshali.

Other honorees include Kamilah Forbes, Pearl Cleage, Michele Shay and many more.

NBTF is the international outreach program of the North Carolina Black Repertory Company, founded by the late Larry Leon Hamlin in 1979. The Festival, also founded by Hamlin, has been held biennially since 1989. The event attracts thousands of national and international patrons, theatre professionals and scholars to Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It was named one of the Top 100 events in North America by the American Business Association. For additional information and a schedule of events, visit us online at www.nbtf.org. You may also call the festival office at (336) 723-2266, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2019 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

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