Kirsten Childs’ BELLA Nominated for Drama League Award, Drama Desk Award, Chita Rivera Award and 6 Lortel Awards

The company of BELLA: AN AMERICAN TALL TALE. Photo by Joan Marcus
Kirsten Childs. Photo by Zack DeZon
Kirsten Childs. Photo by Zack DeZon

Playwrights Horizons’ co-world premiere of BELLA: AN AMERICAN TALL TALE, a new musical with book, music and lyrics by Obie Award winner Kirsten Childs, has been nominated for six Lortel Awards in the categories of Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical for Ashley D. Kelley, Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical for Brandon Gill and Paolo Montalban, Outstanding Choreographer for Camille A. Brown and Outstanding Costume Design for Dede M. Ayite.

Camille A. Brown
Camille A. Brown

2018 Lucille Lortel Award Nominations Announced including KPOP, “Bella: An American Tall Tale,” “Mary Jane,” “The Lucky Ones,” “Pipeline,” “School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play” and “Pacific Overtures” 

Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella, center) with members of the company. Photo by Joan Marcus
Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella, center) with members of the company. Photo by Joan Marcus

Helmed by two-time Obie Award winner Robert O’Hara with choreography by Camille A. Brown, the musical is the sixth and final production of the theater company’s 2016/2017 Season.

Paolo Montalban & Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella). Photo by Joan Marcus
Paolo Montalban & Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella). Photo by Joan Marcus

The cast of BELLA: AN AMERICAN TALL TALE featured Marinda Anderson (Ida Lou/Aunt Dinah), Yurel Echezarreta  (Diego Moreno/CP Conyers), Brandon Gill (Nathaniel Beckworth), Olli Haaskivi (Gabriel Conyers/Scooter), Ashley D. Kelley (Bella), Kevin Massey (Snaggletooth Hoskins), Drama Desk Award and Audelco Award winner Kenita R. Miller (Miss Cabbagestalk/Mama), Paolo Montalban (Tommie Haw/Skeeter), Gabrielle Reyes (Mrs. Dinwiddie/Nurse), Britton Smith (Aloysius T. Honeycutt) and NaTasha Yvette Williams (Grandma/Spirit of the Booty).

Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella) & Brandon Gill. Photo by Joan Marcus
Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella) & Brandon Gill. Photo by Joan Marcus

BELLA has also received a 2018 Drama League Award for Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Musical.

The company of BELLA: AN AMERICAN TALL TALE. Photo by Joan Marcus
The company of BELLA: AN AMERICAN TALL TALE. Photo by Joan Marcus

Dede M. Ayite has been nominated for a 2018 Drama Desk Award nomination for Outstanding Costume Design for a Musical.

Kenita R. Miller. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Kenita R. Miller. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Kenita R. Miller has been nominated for a 2018 Chita Rivera Award for Outstanding Female Dancer in an Off-Broadway Show.

Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella), Kenita R. Miller, NaTasha Yvette Williams & Marinda Anderson. Photo by Joan Marcus
Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella), Kenita R. Miller, NaTasha Yvette Williams & Marinda Anderson. Photo by Joan Marcus

All aboard for a Western musical adventure the likes of which you’ve never experienced. As a wanted woman of mythic proportions looks to begin life anew out west, Bella (Ms. Kelley) takes us on the trip of a lifetime to escape her scandalous past and bounce into the arms of her awaiting Buffalo Soldier (Mr. Smith). Rowdy, wild, and hilarious, Kirsten Childs infuses this tall tale with soulful tunes and madcap antics aplenty. Giddy-up to our get-down!

Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella), NaTasha Yvette Williams & Kenita R. Miller. Photo by Joan Marcus
Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella), NaTasha Yvette Williams & Kenita R. Miller. Photo by Joan Marcus

The production featured scenic design by Tony Award winner Clint Ramos, costume design by Dede M. Ayite, lighting design by four-time Tony Award nominee Japhy Weideman, sound design by Lindsay Jones, projection design by Jeff Sugg and hair, wig and makeup design by Dave Bova and J. Jared Janas. Orchestrations are by Tony Award winner Daryl Waters, vocal arrangements are by Kirsten Childs, music direction and additional arrangements are by Rona Siddiqui and music coordinator is John Miller. Production stage manager is Erin Gioia Albrecht.

Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella), Yurel Echezarreta & Kenita R. Miller. Photo by Joan Marcus
Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella), Yurel Echezarreta & Kenita R. Miller. Photo by Joan Marcus

BELLA: AN AMERICAN TALL TALE was commissioned, developed and produced through the Playwrights Horizons Musicals in Partnership Initiative, with leadership support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This co-world premiere production had an initial run at Dallas Theater Center last fall.

NaTasha Yvette Williams, Marinda Anderson, Brandon Gill, Kenita Miller and Yurel Echezarreta. Photo by Garth Kravits
NaTasha Yvette Williams, Marinda Anderson, Brandon Gill, Kenita Miller and Yurel Echezarreta. Photo by Garth Kravits

Click here  for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang, Paolo Montalban and Kenita R. Miller. Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang, Paolo Montalban and Kenita R. Miller. Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits

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 Examiner.comJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2018 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

2018 Lucille Lortel Award Nominations Announced including KPOP, “Bella: An American Tall Tale,” “Mary Jane,” “The Lucky Ones,” “Pipeline,” “School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play,” “Pacific Overtures,”  and “Jesus Hopped the A Train”

The cast of KPOP (© Ben Arons)

Laura Benanti and Jeremy Shamos will host the 33rd Annual Lucille Lortel Awards on Sunday, May 6, at the NYU Skirball Center.

The 2018 Lucille Lortel Awards, will posthumously elect composer Michael Friedman onto the Playwrights’ Sidewalk in front of the Lucille Lortel Theatre. Friedman was a Lucille Lortel Award winner for Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. Friedman died September 9, 2017, at the age of 41 following complications due to HIV/AIDS. His other works include This Beautiful City, Saved, The Fortress of Solitude, and Pretty Filthy.

The evening will also honor Tony-winning playwright and performer Eve Ensler (The Vagina Monologues) with a Lifetime Achievement Award, and longstanding Off-Broadway company WP Theater for their Outstanding Body of Work.

Ensler recently performed at Manhattan Theatre Club Off-Broadway in an adaptation of her memoir, In the Body of the World. The monologue play, written and performed by Ensler, details her experiences working with women in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo and being diagnosed with uterine cancer.

MaameYaa Boafo and Zainab Jah. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
MaameYaa Boafo and Zainab Jah. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

Outstanding Play
Cost of Living
Produced by Manhattan Theatre Club in association with Williamstown Theatre Festival
Written by Martyna Majok

Miles for Mary
Produced by Playwrights Horizons
Written by Marc Bovino, Joe Curnutte, Michael Dalto, Lila Neugebauer, and Stephanie Wright Thompson

Karen Pittman (foreground) and Namir Smallwood (background). Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel
Karen Pittman (foreground) and Namir Smallwood (background). Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel

Pipeline
Produced by Lincoln Center Theater
Written by Dominique Morisseau

Dominique Morisseau’s PIPELINE at Lincoln Center Theater 

School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play
Produced by MCC Theater
Written by Jocelyn Bioh

MCC’s SCHOOL GIRLS; OR, THE AFRICAN MEAN GIRLS PLAY by Jocelyn Bioh at The Lucille Lortel Theatre

Jocelyn Bioh’s “School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play” Receives 2018 Drama Desk Ensemble Award and Lortel, Outer Critics Circle, Drama League and Off Broadway Alliance Nominations 

The Treasurer
Produced by Playwrights Horizons
Written by Max Posner

The company of BELLA: AN AMERICAN TALL TALE. Photo by Joan Marcus
The company of BELLA: AN AMERICAN TALL TALE. Photo by Joan Marcus

Outstanding Musical
Bella: An American Tall Tale
Produced by Playwrights Horizons
Book, music, and lyrics by Kirsten Childs

Ashley D. Kelley, Paolo Montalban, Kenita R. Miller, Britton Smith, Yurel Echezarreta and More in BELLA: AN AMERICAN TALL TALE at Playwright’s Horizons 

Kirsten Childs’ BELLA Nominated for Drama League Award, Drama Desk Award, Chita Rivera Award and 6 Lortel Awards 

Desperate Measures
Produced by The York Theatre Company in association with Cecilia Lin and Hu Guo
Book and lyrics by Peter Kellogg, music by David Friedman

Hundred Days
Produced by New York Theatre Workshop
By the Bengsons and Sarah Gancher

Jerry Springer – The Opera
Produced by The New Group
Music and lyrics by Richard Thomas, book and additional lyrics by Stewart Lee and Richard Thomas

The cast of KPOP (© Ben Arons)
The cast of KPOP (© Ben Arons)

KPOP
Produced by Ars Nova in association with Ma-Yi Theater Company and Woodshed Collective
Conceived by Woodshed Collective and Jason Kim, book by Jason Kim, music and lyrics by Helen Park and Max Vernon, immersive design by Woodshed Collective

KPOP’s James Seol, Ashley Park, Jason Tam, Vanessa Kai Among 9 2018 Lucille Lortel Nods, including Outstanding Musical 

KPOP by Jason Kim, Helen Park, Max Vernon, and Woodshed Collective and GUN & POWDER by Ross Baum and Angelica Chéri Receive 2018 Richard Rodgers Awards for Musical Theater

Photos: KPOP Performance Benefits Ma-Yi Theater Company

Outstanding Revival
Fucking A
Produced by Signature Theatre
Written by Suzan-Lori Parks

In The Blood
Produced by Signature Theatre
Written by Suzan-Lori Parks

Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train
Produced by Signature Theatre
Written by Stephen Adly Guirgis

The Government Inspector
Produced by Red Bull Theater
Adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher from Revizor by Nikolai Gogol

Torch Song
Produced by Second Stage Theater in association with Richie Jackson
Written by Harvey Fierstein

Sean Carvajal, Ricardo Chavira and Edi Gathegi. Photo: Joan Marcus
Sean Carvajal, Ricardo Chavira and Edi Gathegi. Photo: Joan Marcus

Outstanding Solo Show
Harry Clarke
Produced by Vineyard Theatre in association with Audible
Written by David Cale, performed by Billy Crudup

Who’s Holiday!
Produced by Whoville Theatrical, Scott and Jenny Beck, Jason Shaw, Ken Fakler, Drew Desky/Dane Levens, Darren Bagert
Written by Matthew Lombardo, performed by Lesli Margherita

Outstanding Director
Lileana Blain-Cruz, Pipeline
Michael Greif, The Low Road
Anne Kauffman, Mary Jane
Lila Neugebauer, Miles for Mary
Leigh Silverman, Harry Clarke

Outstanding Choreographer
Camille A. Brown, Bella: An American Tall Tale
Bill Castellino, Desperate Measures
Byron Easley, X: Or, Betty Shabazz v. The Nation
Sonya Tayeh, The Lucky Ones
Jennifer Weber, KPOP

Chukwudi Iwuji and Crystal A. Dickinson. © Joan Marcus
Chukwudi Iwuji and Crystal A. Dickinson. © Joan Marcus

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play
Sean Carvajal, Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train
Peter Friedman, The Treasurer
Chukwudi Iwuji, The Low Road
Namir Smallwood, Pipeline
Michael Urie, Torch Song

Sean Carvajal, Edi Gathegi, Ricardo Chavira, Stephanie DiMaggio, Erick Betancourt End Extended Run in Stephen Adly Guirgis’ JESUS HOPPED THE A TRAIN 

Quincy Tyler Bernstine. Photo by Lia Chang
Quincy Tyler Bernstine. Photo by Lia Chang

 

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play
Quincy Tyler Bernstine, The Amateurs
MaameYaa Boafo, School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play
Carrie Coon, Mary Jane
Cristin Milioti, After the Blast
Karen Pittman, Pipeline

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play
Marc Bovino, Miles for Mary
Edi Gathegi, Jesus Hopped The ‘A’ Train
Gregg Mozgala, Cost of Living
Paul Sparks, Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo: Homelife and The Zoo Story
John Tufts, Pride and Prejudice

Carrie Coon, Liza Colón-Zayas, Danaya Esperanza, Susan Pourfar, Brenda Wehle Set for Amy Herzog’s MARY JANE at New York Theatre Workshop

From left: Abena Mensah-Bonsu, Mirirai Sithole and Paige Gilbert in 'School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play' Photo: Joan Marcus
From left: Abena Mensah-Bonsu, Mirirai Sithole and Paige Gilbert in ‘School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play’ Photo: Joan Marcus

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play
Vanessa Aspillaga, Amy and the Orphans
Quincy Tyler Bernstine, As You Like It
Liza Colón-Zayas, Mary Jane
Mirirai Sithole, School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play
Katy Sullivan, Cost of Living

Chatting with VIETGONE Star James Seol 

Chatting with Steven Eng – 2018 Lucille Lortel Award Nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical for “Pacific Overtures”

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical
Abigail Bengson, Hundred Days
Ashley D. Kelley, Bella: An American Tall Tale
Julia Knitel, A Letter to Harvey Milk
Lauren Molina, Desperate Measures
Ashley Park, KPOP

Kelvin Moon Loh, Austin Ku, George Takei, Marc Oka, and Thom Sesma in “Pacific Overtures” at Classic Stage Company. Photo by Joan Marcus
Kelvin Moon Loh, Austin Ku, George Takei, Marc Oka, and Thom Sesma in “Pacific Overtures” at Classic Stage Company. Photo by Joan Marcus

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
Sean Patrick Doyle, Jerry Springer – The Opera
Brandon Gill, Bella: An American Tall Tale
Paolo Montalban, Bella: An American Tall Tale
Thom Sesma, Pacific Overtures
Jason Tam, KPOP

Jason Tam as Epic, the leader of the boy band F8, in KPOP. (© Ben Arons)
Jason Tam as Epic, the leader of the boy band F8, in KPOP. (© Ben Arons)

Lucille Lortel Nominee Thom Sesma Talks Asian American Representation in the Performing Arts and all things Sondheim 

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
Vanessa Kai, KPOP
Tiffany Mann, Jerry Springer – The OperaQuincy Tyler Bernstine
Maryann Plunkett, The Lucky Ones
Myra Lucretia Taylor, The Lucky Ones
Adina Verson, The Lucky Ones

Outstanding Scenic Design
Gabriel Hainer Evansohn, KPOP
Anna Fleischle, Hangmen
Laura Jellinek, Mary Jane
Amy Rubin, Miles for Mary
Louisa Thompson, In The Blood

Outstanding Costume Design
Dede M. Ayite, Bella: An American Tall Tale
Dede M. Ayite, School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play
Tricia Barsamian, KPOP
Tilly Grimes, The Government Inspector
Emily Rebholz, The Low Road

Outstanding Lighting Design
Alan C. Edwards, Harry Clarke
Bradley King, The Treasurer
Ben Stanton, The Low Road
Japhy Weideman, Mary Jane
Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew, KPOP

Outstanding Sound Design
Mikhail Fiksel, The Treasurer
Leah Gelpe, Mary Jane
Bray Poor, The Last Match
Bray Poor, Office Hour
Brandon Wolcott, After the Blast

Outstanding Projection Design
Lucy Mackinnon, After the Blast
Alexander V. Nichols, Ernest Shackleton Loves Me
Brad Peterson, The Stone Witch
Hannah Wasileski, Pipeline
Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew, Relevance

Productions with multiple nominations
KPOP (9)
Bella: An American Tall Tale (6)
Mary Jane (6)
The Lucky Ones (5)
Pipeline (5)
Jerry Springer – The Opera (4)
The Low Road (4)
Miles for Mary (4)
School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play (4)
The Treasurer (4)
After the Blast (3)
Cost of Living (3)
Desperate Measures (3)
Harry Clarke (3)
Jesus Hopped The “A” Train (3)
Ernest Shackleton Loves Me (2)
The Government Inspector (2)
Hundred Days (2)
In the Blood (2)
Pacific Overtures (2)
Torch Song (2)

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Kirsten Childs’ BELLA: AN AMERICAN TALL TALE Receives Four AUDELCOs including Outstanding Musical

The company of BELLA: AN AMERICAN TALL TALE. Photo by Joan Marcus

Playwright Horizons’ production of Kirsten Childs’ Bella: An American Tall Tale won four AUDELCOs at the 45th Annual Vivian Robinson/AUDELCO “VIV” Recognition Awards for Excellence in Black Theatre, held at Symphony Space in New York, on Monday, November 20, 2017.

Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella), NaTasha Yvette Williams & Kenita R. Miller. Photo by Joan Marcus
Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella), NaTasha Yvette Williams & Kenita R. Miller. Photo by Joan Marcus

Bella: An American Tall Tale, featuring book, music and lyrics by Obie Award winner Kirsten Childs, received top honors including Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Director of a Musical Production for Robert O’Hara; Outstanding Choreography for Camille A. Brown and Outstanding performance in a musical, female for Natasha Yvette Williams.

Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella), Kenita R. Miller, NaTasha Yvette Williams & Marinda Anderson. Photo by Joan Marcus
Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella), Kenita R. Miller, NaTasha Yvette Williams & Marinda Anderson. Photo by Joan Marcus

The cast, including Marinda Anderson, Yurel Echezarreta, Brandon Gill, Olli Haaskivi, Ashley D. Kelley, Kevin Massey, Jo’Nathan Michael, Drama Desk Award and Audelco Award winner Kenita R. Miller, Paolo Montalban, Gabrielle Reyes, Britton Smith and NaTasha Yvette Williams, recently gathered at Avatar Studios to record Childs’ score for an upcoming album, produced by Michael Croiter in conjunction with Playwrights Horizons on the Yellow Sound label.

The company of BELLA: AN AMERICAN TALL TALE. Photo by Joan Marcus
The company of BELLA: AN AMERICAN TALL TALE. Photo by Joan Marcus

All aboard for a Western musical adventure the likes of which you’ve never experienced. As a wanted woman of mythic proportions looks to begin life anew out west, Bella (Ms. Kelley) takes us on the trip of a lifetime to escape her scandalous past and bounce into the arms of her awaiting Buffalo Soldier (Mr. Smith). Rowdy, wild, and hilarious, Kirsten Childs infuses this tall tale with soulful tunes and madcap antics aplenty.

The company of BELLA: AN AMERICAN TALL TALE. Photo by Joan Marcus
The company of BELLA: AN AMERICAN TALL TALE. Photo by Joan Marcus

The production featured scenic design by Tony Award winner Clint Ramos, costume design by Dede M. Ayite, lighting design by four-time Tony Award nominee Japhy Weideman, sound design by Lindsay Jones, projection design by Jeff Sugg and hair, wig and makeup design by Dave Bova and J. Jared Janas. Orchestrations are by Tony Award winner Daryl Waters, vocal arrangements are by Kirsten Childs, music direction and additional arrangements are by Rona Siddiqui and music coordinator is John Miller.

BELLA: AN AMERICAN TALL TALE was commissioned, developed and produced through the Playwrights Horizons Musicals in Partnership Initiative, with leadership support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This co-world premiere production had an initial run at Dallas Theater Center last fall.

Click here  for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits

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: © 2000-2017 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

Ashley D. Kelley, Paolo Montalban, Kenita R. Miller, Britton Smith, Yurel Echezarreta and More in BELLA: AN AMERICAN TALL TALE at Playwright’s Horizons

The company of BELLA: AN AMERICAN TALL TALE. Photo by Joan Marcus

Playwrights Horizons is presenting BELLA: AN AMERICAN TALL TALE, the co-world premiere of a new musical with book, music and lyrics by Obie Award winner Kirsten Childs (The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin at Playwrights, Miracle Brothers).

Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella), NaTasha Yvette Williams & Kenita R. Miller. Photo by Joan Marcus
Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella), NaTasha Yvette Williams & Kenita R. Miller. Photo by Joan Marcus

Directed by two-time Obie Award winner Robert O’Hara (Bootycandy at Playwrights, Barbecue, In the Continuum, The Brother/Sister Plays) with choreography by Camille A. Brown (The Fortress of Solitude), the musical is the sixth and final production of the theater company’s 2016/2017 Season.

Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella) & Brandon Gill. Photo by Joan Marcus
Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella) & Brandon Gill. Photo by Joan Marcus

BELLA: AN AMERICAN TALL TALE was commissioned, developed and produced through the Playwrights Horizons Musicals in Partnership Initiative, with leadership support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This co-world premiere production had an initial run at Dallas Theater Center last fall.

Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella), Kenita R. Miller, NaTasha Yvette Williams & Marinda Anderson. Photo by Joan Marcus
Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella), Kenita R. Miller, NaTasha Yvette Williams & Marinda Anderson. Photo by Joan Marcus

The cast of BELLA: AN AMERICAN TALL TALE features Marinda Anderson (A Life, Far From Heaven at Playwrights; Every Good Girl, Sex of the Baby), Yurel Echezarreta (Bella… at Dallas Theatre Center, Aladdin, La Cage aux Folles, West Side Story, Matilda), Brandon Gill (Holler if Ya Hear Me, Neighbors, “Golden Boy”), Olli Haaskivi (Baghdaddy, I Battled Lenny Ross, Saturday Night, “Mr. Robot”), Ashley D. Kelley (title role in Bella… at Dallas Theatre Center, regionally as Dorothy/The Wiz, Mama Morton/Chicago, Mazeppa/Gypsy, Nell Carter/Ain’t Misbehavin’), Kevin Massey (A Gentleman’s Guide…, Tarzan, Memphis, Big River), Jo’Nathan Michael (tours of Ragtime, Dreamgirls, The Color Purple, Fame), Drama Desk Award and Audelco Award winner Kenita R. Miller (Bella… at Dallas Theatre Center, The Color Purple, Xanadu, Avenue Q, Encores! The Wild Party), Paolo Montalban (Bella… at Dallas Theatre Center, Pacific Overtures, The King and I, Cinderella, “The Blacklist,” “Madam Secretary”), Gabrielle Reyes (Bella… at Dallas Theatre Center, regionally in Dreamgirls, Ragtime, Distracted, Clybourne Park), Britton Smith (Shuffle Along, After Midnight, Fortress of Solitude, Encores! The Wild Party,) and NaTasha Yvette Williams(Chicago, Porgy and Bess, The Color Purple, Show Boat).

Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella) & Brandon Gill. Photo by Joan Marcus
Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella) & Brandon Gill. Photo by Joan Marcus

The production began previews on May 19 with an Opening Night set for Monday, June 12 at 7PM at the company’s Mainstage Theater (416 West 42nd Street). The limited engagement is currently scheduled to play through Sunday, July 2.

The company of BELLA: AN AMERICAN TALL TALE. Photo by Joan Marcus
The company of BELLA: AN AMERICAN TALL TALE. Photo by Joan Marcus

All aboard for a Western musical adventure the likes of which you’ve never experienced. As a wanted woman of mythic proportions looks to begin life anew out west, Bella (Ms. Kelley) takes us on the trip of a lifetime to escape her scandalous past and bounce into the arms of her awaiting Buffalo Soldier (Mr. Smith). Rowdy, wild, and hilarious, Kirsten Childs infuses this tall tale with soulful tunes and madcap antics aplenty. Giddy-up to our get-down!

Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella, center) with members of the company. Photo by Joan Marcus
Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella, center) with members of the company. Photo by Joan Marcus
Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella), Olli Haaskivi & Yurel Echezarreta. Photo by Joan Marcus
Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella), Olli Haaskivi & Yurel Echezarreta. Photo by Joan Marcus

The production will feature scenic design by Tony Award winner Clint Ramos, costume design by Dede M. Ayite, lighting design by four-time Tony Award nominee Japhy Weideman, sound design by Lindsay Jones, projection design by Jeff Sugg and hair, wig and makeup design by Dave Bova and J. Jared Janas. Orchestrations are by Tony Award winner Daryl Waters, vocal arrangements are by Kirsten Childs, music direction and additional arrangements are by Rona Siddiqui and music coordinator is John Miller. Production stage manager is Erin Gioia Albrecht.

Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella) & Kevin Massey. Photo by Joan Marcus
Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella) & Kevin Massey. Photo by Joan Marcus

The performance schedule for BELLA: AN AMERICAN TALL TALE will be Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7PM, Thursdays and Fridays at 8PM, Saturdays at 2:30 & 8PM and Sundays at 2:30 & 7:30 PM. Beginning Tuesday, April 18, single tickets, $59-89, may be purchased online via www.phnyc.org and www.Facebook.com, by phone at (212) 279-4200 (Noon-8pm daily) and in person at the Ticket Central Box Office, 416 West 42nd Street (between Ninth & Tenth Avenues).

ABOUT THE ARTISTS:
Kirsten Childs (Book, Music and Lyrics). At Playwrights Horizons: The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin. Her other musicals include Miracle Brothers (Vineyard Theatre), Fly (with Rajiv Joseph and Bill Sherman) and Funked Up Fairy Tales. For her work she has received Obie, Kleban, Larson, Richard Rodgers, Audelco, and Gilman/Gonzalez-Falla awards, as well as Lortel and Drama Desk nominations. She recently collaborated with Charlayne Woodard on the musical Grace for Inner Voices: Solo Musicals. Kirsten has written for Disney Theatricals, the American Songbook series at Lincoln Center, the New Electric Company, Works and Process at the Guggenheim Museum and City CenterEncores! She is a professor in NYU’s Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program, a member of both the Dramatists Guild Council and the Dramatists Guild Fund, and is proud to be a mentor in Theatre Development Fund’s Open Doors program.

Robert O’Hara (Director). At Playwrights Horizons: Bootycandy (writer and director), next season’s Mankind. He has received the NAACP Best Director Award, the Helen HayesAward for Outstanding New Play, two Obie Awards and the Oppenheimer Award. He directed the world premieres of Nikkole Salter and Danai Gurira’s In the Continuum, Tarell McCraney’s The Brother/Sister Plays (Part 2), Colman Domingo’s Wild with Happy as well as his own plays, Bootycandy and Insurrection: Holding History. His new plays Zombie: The American and Barbecue world premiered last season at Woolly Mammoth Theater and The Public Theater, respectively.

Camille A. Brown (Choreographer). Playwrights Horizons debut. Broadway: A Streetcar Named Desire. Off-Broadway/New York: Fortress of Solitude (Public Theatre, Lortel Award nomination), The Box (Foundry Theatre), Encores! productions of Cabin in the Sky and tick, tick…BOOM! starring Lin-Manuel Miranda. Regional: Bella: An American Tall Tale, Stagger Lee (Dallas Theatre Center); The Winter’s Tale (McCarter Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre Company); Blood Quilt (Arena Stage). Upcoming: the Broadway revivals of Once on This Island (December 2017) and Pal Joey (Spring 2019) and the world premiere of her new work Ink at The Kennedy Center (December 2017).

Marinda Anderson (Ida Lou/Aunt Dinah). Playwrights Horizons: A Life, Far From Heaven. Off-Broadway: Sex of the Baby, Every Good Girl, Macbeth. Regional: A Doll’s House, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, Intimate Apparel, Three Sisters, Fairfield, A Carol for Cleveland, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Doubt, Hair. TV: “Gotham.” Web: “Horace and Pete,” “Homegirls” (creator). BFA in musical theater, Howard University; MFA, NYU Graduate Acting Program.

Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella), Yurel Echezarreta & Kenita R. Miller. Photo by Joan Marcus
Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella), Yurel Echezarreta & Kenita R. Miller. Photo by Joan Marcus

Yurel Echezarreta (Diego Moreno/CP Conyers) originated his roles in the Dallas Theater Center engagement of this co-world premiere production. Playwrights Horizons debut. Broadway: Aladdin, La Cage aux Folles, West Side Story, Matilda. Regional: West Side Story, Chicago, South Pacific, Songs for a New World, Grease, Cats, Children of Eden. Film: The Last Five Years.

Brandon Gill (Nathaniel Beckworth). Playwrights Horizons debut. Broadway: Holler if Ya Hear Me. New York: Neighbors. Regional: Stagger Lee, The Last Goodbye, The Recommendation, Panzee, Superior Donuts, Rabbit Hole. Film/TV: Radium Girls, Paladin, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Fourth Man Out, “Blue Bloods,” “Golden Boy,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Are We There Yet?,” “Detroit 187,” “Momma’s,” “Fringe.”

Olli Haaskivi (Gabriel Conyers/Scooter). Playwrights Horizons debut. Off-Broadway: Baghdaddy. New York: I Battled Lenny Ross, Saturday Night. Regional: …Spelling Bee. Film/TV: Going in Style, Freak Show, From Nowhere, The Lennon Report, Ratter, The Funeral Guest, “Orange Is the New Black,” “The Detour,” “The Blacklist,” “Z,” “Mr. Robot,” “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “Boardwalk Empire.”

Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella). Photo by Joan Marcus
Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella). Photo by Joan Marcus

Ashley D. Kelley (Bella) originated the title role in the Dallas Theater Center engagement of this co-world premiere production. Playwrights Horizons debut. Regional (leading/featured roles: The Wiz; Chicago; All Shook Up; Gypsy; Ain’t Misbehavin’; Nunsense; …Spelling Bee; Kiss Me, Kate; Hairspray; Little Shop of Horrors; Avenue Q; The Full Monty; Smokey Joe’s Café; La Cage aux Folles. Film: American Hustle.

Kevin Massey (Snaggletooth Hoskins). Playwrights Horizons debut. Broadway: A Gentleman’s Guide…, Tarzan, Memphis, Big River. Off-Broadway/New York: Angels The Musical, Anthony and Cleopatra, Down at the Inferno, Blackamoor Angel. National tours: A Gentleman’s Guide…, Tarzan, Little House on the Prairie, Big River, Grease. Regional: Bonnie & Clyde, Les Misérables, The Secret Garden, Pippin, Footloose.

Kenita R. Miller. Photo by Joan Marcus
Kenita R. Miller. Photo by Joan Marcus

Kenita R. Miller (Miss Cabbagestalk/Mama) originated her roles in the Dallas Theater Center engagement of this co-world premiere production. Playwrights Horizons debut. Broadway: The Color Purple, Xanadu. Off-Broadway: Working (Drama Desk Award), Langston in Harlem (Audelco Award, Drama Desk nomination), Avenue Q, The Wild Party, Merrily We Roll Along, Dessa Rose, Saturday Night. TV: “The Blacklist,” “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”.

Paolo Montalban & Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella). Photo by Joan Marcus
Paolo Montalban & Ashley D. Kelley (as Bella). Photo by Joan Marcus

Paolo Montalban (Tommie Haw/Skeeter) originated his roles in the Dallas Theater Center engagement of this co-world premiere production. Playwrights Horizons debut. Broadway: Pacific Overtures, The King and I, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Off-Broadway: Two Gentlemen of Verona. National tour: Cinderella. TV: “The Blacklist,” “Madam Secretary,” “Cinderella,” “Camelot.” Concert work: Carnegie Hall (with Lea Salonga), Alice Tully Hall, Las Vegas.

Gabrielle Reyes (Mrs. Dinwiddie/Nurse) originated her roles in the Dallas Theater Centerengagement of this co-world premiere production. Playwrights Horizons debut. Regional: Ragtime, Dreamgirls, Trojan Women, Distracted, Clybourne Park, In the Next Room…, Joseph…, Macbeth, West Side Story, A Christmas Carol. TV: “The Whitney Houston Story.

Britton Smith. Photo by Joan Marcus
Britton Smith. Photo by Joan Marcus

Britton Smith (Aloysius T. Honeycutt). Playwrights Horizons debut. Broadway: Shuffle Along, After Midnight. Off-Broadway: Encores! The Wild Party and Cotton Club Parade, Fortress of Solitude (also Dallas Theatre Center), For the Last Time. Regional: Damn Yankees, Seussical The Musical, Hairspray, Ragtime, Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story.

NaTasha Yvette Williams (Grandma/Spirit of the Booty). Playwrights Horizons debut. Broadway: Chicago, Porgy and Bess, The Color Purple, A Night with Janis Joplin. Off-Broadway/New York: Show Boat (NY Philharmonic), Storyville, Dessa Rose. London: Gone with the Wind. National tours: Xanadu, The Drowsy Chaperone, All Shook Up, Seussical The Musical, Cinderella, Parade, The Goodbye Girl, Mahalia. TV: “Orange Is the New Black,” “The Wiz Live!”

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Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits

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 Examiner.comJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2017 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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