André De Shields in “Frederick Douglass: Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory”. © Lia Chang

Broadway’s Alton Fitzgerald White (2/5), Lillias White (2/18), and Triple Crown Winner André De Shields (2/26) to present the works of John Lewis, Sarah Vaughan, and Frederick Douglass for Flushing Town Hall’s Black History Trilogy in Celebration of Black History Month

In celebration of Black History Month, Flushing Town Hall presents a Black History Trilogy, a three-part series featuring outstanding Broadway performers showcasing the music and speeches of influential African American artists, scholars, and leaders. 

Alton Fitzgerald White kicks off the Trilogy in “John Lewis: A Pioneer for Justice” on Friday, February 5 at 7:00 PM (ET). 

Alton Fitzgerald White. Photo by Dennis Johnson
Alton Fitzgerald White. Photo by Dennis Johnson

Alton Fitzgerald White, a gifted actor who starred in Broadway’s hit show Ragtime and performed over 4,000 times as Mufasa, “king of the jungle,” in Disney’s production of The Lion King, will bring to life the legacy of American politician and civil rights leader John Lewis, who passed away last summer and coined the popular phrase “good trouble” in one of his most resilient speeches. Following his reading of the speech, White will discuss why Lewis’ words and mission are still relevant today, and participate in a short question-and-answer session with the virtual audience. 

updated: 2/18/21

Lillias White. Photo by James Alexander
Lillias White. Photo by James Alexander

On Thursday, February 18 at 7:00 PM (ET), the Black History Trilogy continues with a presentation of “Divine Sass: A Tribute to the Music, Life, and Legacy of Sarah Vaughan,” featuring Tony Award-winning actress and vocalister Lillias White, who also wrote and conceived the show.  

White, who performed in DreamgirlsHow to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, South Pacific, and Cy Coleman’s The Life, will highlight the music and struggles of the African American Jazz Artist Sarah Vaughan, a pivotal figure in the formation of Be-Bop who has influenced generations of vocalists with her unique style of expression and melodic phrasing. Vaughan helped desegregate American airwaves and set the stage for the civil rights activism of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Born in Newark, New Jersey, Vaughan, called “Sassy” by the greatest Jazz musicians, was not only an extraordinary vocalist but an exceptional pianist.  

André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

On Friday, February 26 at 7:00 PM (ET), the Black History Trilogy concludes with “André De Shields is Frederick Douglass: Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory.” The Tony, Grammy, and Emmy Award Winner and Hadestown star explores the life and achievements of the great emancipator Frederick Douglass. 

André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields is the triple crown winner of the 2019 awards season, having won the Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, and Tony Awards for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his critically acclaimed performance as Hermes in Hadestown. The Actors’ Equity Foundation followed suit with the Richard Seff Award, honoring veteran stage actors’ best supporting performances of the year. In 2020, Mr. De Shields received the 2020 Grammy Award for Musical Theater Album for Hadestown, the 2020 AUDELCO for Lifetime Achievement, an honorary Doctor of Arts Degree from Boston Conservatory at Berklee and the 2020 Red Bull Theater Matador Award for Excellence in Classical Theater. In 2019, he received the 2019 Project1Voice Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2019 SAGE Joyce Warshow Lifetime Achievement Award, The York Theatre Company’s 2019 Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musical Theatre, and was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame. He received the Key to the City of Baltimore from Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young in August, 2019. Prior to his Tony Award win, Mr. De Shields was best known for his show-stopping performances in four legendary Broadway productions: The WizAin’t Misbehavin’ (Emmy Award), Play On! (Tony Nomination), and The Full Monty (Tony Nomination). In a career spanning fifty one years, he has distinguished himself as an unparalleled actor, director, and educator, receiving in 2018 the 8th Annual Off Broadway Alliance Legend Award, and the 33rd Annual Bob Harrington Life Achievement Bistro Award. Among his other accolades are the 2009 National Black Theatre Festival’s Living Legend Award and the 2007 Village Voice Obie Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance. His film and TV projects include Anton Ego in Ratatouille: The TikTok Tok Musical, the Algebra Tutor in “John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch”  on Netflix, Chubby in “Katy Keene” on the CW, and as Wyndham on “Almost Family.” He can next be seen as Gavin Plimsoll in Charles Busch’s  new film, The Sixth Reel. De Shields is a proud member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA, and SDC. andredeshields.com 

Frederick Douglass—who began his life as a slave, and through heroic effort, became one of America’s most important and historically influential icons—delivered a keynote address at a commemoration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 5, 1852 at Corinthian Hall in Rochester, New York. In his speech entitled “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro,” Douglass asked, “What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?” On February 26, De Shields will take the audiences back in time to this historic moment. 

Flushing Town Hall’s Black History Trilogy is part of its FTH At Home! virtual programming, which is presented for free to the general public with a suggested donation to support the artists and the nonprofit cultural organization as they continue to provide programming and entertainment across New York and the world. 

Flushing Town Hall’s facilities are temporarily closed to the public in accordance with COVID-19 safety regulations. Current programs are being presented virtually. 

About Flushing Town Hall 

Flushing Town Hall (FTH), a Smithsonian affiliate, presents multi-disciplinary global arts that engage and educate the global communities of Queens and New York City, in order to foster mutual appreciation. As advocates of arts equity since 1979, we support local, immigrant, national, and international artists, developing partnerships and collaborations that enhance our efforts. As a member of New York City’s Cultural Institutions Group (CIG), we serve to restore, manage and program the historic 1862 landmark on behalf of the City of New York. FTH celebrates the history of Queens as the home of Jazz, by presenting the finest in Jazz performance. We are committed to arts education and hands-on learning, for the arts-curious, arts enthusiasts, and professional artists. We serve one of the most diverse communities in the world and strive to uphold the legacy of inclusiveness that has defined our community since the Flushing Remonstrance of 1657. 

For more information:  www.flushingtownhall.org 

Timeout.com: Black History Month

DC Metro Theater Arts: Flushing Town Hall’s ‘Black History Trilogy’ features solo performances by Broadway stars

Theatermania: André De Shields, Lillias White, Alton Fitzgerald White Perform Virtual Black History Trilogy

Broadwayworld.com: How Theatres Everywhere Are Celebrating Black History Month

Patch.com: Flushing Town Hall Presents Black History Trilogy

Broadwayblog.com: BROADWAY’S BEST HEADLINE FLUSHING TOWN HALL’S BLACK HISTORY TRILOGY

Lia Chang
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 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. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2021 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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