Multimedia: HADESTOWN Star André De Shields Receives 2019 Project1Voice Lifetime Achievement Award at The Theatermakers Black Theater Preview at the Schomburg

Emmy and 2019 Tony Award-winning actor, singer, dancer, director, choreographer, playwright and educator André De Shields received the 2019 Project1Voice Lifetime Achievement Award at The Schomburg on October 7.

Erich McMillan-McCall, Founder and CEO of Project1VOICE, Inc. (P1V) and André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang
Erich McMillan-McCall, Founder and CEO of Project1VOICE, Inc. (P1V) and André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang
Project1Voice Lifetime Achievement Award recipient André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

AUDELCO (Audience Development Committee) President Jackie Jeffries, Project1Voice Founder and CEO Erich McMillan-McCall, Marcia Pendelton, President of Walk Tall Girl Productions/Black Theater Online, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (Kevin Young, Director, Schomburg Center) presented THE THEATERMAKERS – A Black Theater Preview: Fall Edition at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, hosted by four-time Tony Award®-winning producer Ron Simons of SimonSays Entertainment (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Porgy & Bess, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Jitney).

Mr. De Shields took The Schomburg audience to church, kicking off the evening with an acapella rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”  During the course of the interview, Simons asked Mr. De Shields to tell the story of his audition for The Wiz. De Shields painted a vivid picture of his audition at The Majestic and then sang his audition song, “In the Midnight Hour,” which sealed the deal.

André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields is the triple-crown winner of the 2019 theater awards season, having won the Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk and Tony Awards as Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his unanimously critically acclaimed performance as Hermes, Messenger to the Gods, in Hadestown. The Actors’ Equity Foundation followed suit with the Richard Seff Award, which honors veteran stage actors’ best supporting performances of the year. Mr. De Shields will receive The York Theatre Company’s 2019 Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musical Theatre on November 11 and will be inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame on November 18. He recently received the Key to the City of Baltimore from Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young. Prior to his Tony Award win, Mr. De Shields was best known for his show-stopping performances in four legendary Broadway productions: The Wiz, Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Emmy Award), Play On! (Tony Nomination), and The Full Monty (Tony Nomination). In a career spanning fifty 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. www.andredeshields.com

James Mirrione and André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

Black Theater Preview, now in it’s second year, shines the spotlight on the presence of black artists on stage: Broadway, Off-Broadway, and beyond.


André De Shields and Marcia Pendleton. Photo by Lia Chang
Erich McMillan-McCall, Marcia Pendleton and André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

Erich McMillan-McCall, Jackie Jeffries, Marcia Pendleton. Photo by Lia Chang

THE THEATERMAKERS – A Black Theater Preview: Fall Edition, featured presentations from Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, Ta-Nehesi Coates’ Between Me and the World at The Apollo Theatre, and the Broadway-bound Thoughts of a Colored Man (Baltimore Center Stage); conversations with playwrights Donja R. Love (one in two) and Glynn Borders; directors Saheem Ali (Fires in the Mirror, The New Englanders), Robert O’Hara (Slave Play, Booty Candy, Mankind); leaders of black theater institutions such as Carl Clay (Black Spectrum Theatre Company), Dr. Indira Etwaroo (The Billie Holiday Theatre) and Kamilah Forbes (Apollo Theatre).

Spoken Word Artist Jay Delise. Photo by Lia Chang

Spoken Word Artist Jay Delise. Photo by Lia Chang
Producer Ron Simons. Photo by Lia Chang

Excerpts were presented from Classical Theatre of Harlem’s A Christmas Carol In Harlem; (A)loft Modulation by Jaymes Jorsling; Black Spectrum Theatre Company’s Sassy Mamas by Celeste Bedford Walker; for all the women who thought they were MAD by Zawe Ashton; American Slavery Project’s Unheard Voices conceived and directed by Judy Tate; Reparations by James Sheldon; Broadbend, Arkansas – A new musical by Ellen Fitzhugh & Harrison David Rivers; The Black History Museum…According to the United States of America by Zoey Martinson; New York Theatre Workshop’s runboyrun & IN OLD AGE by Mfoniso Udofia; and Thoughts of a Colored Man by Keenan Scott II.

André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang
Ron Simons, André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang
Ron Simons, André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang
André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang
Ron Simons, André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang
Ron Simons, André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang
Ron Simons, André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang
André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang
Ron Simons, André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang
Ron Simons, André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang
Ron Simons, André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

AUDELCO, the Audience Development Committee, Inc., was established in 1973 by Vivian Robinson to honor excellence in African-American theatre in New York City. AUDELCO presents the Vivian Robinson/AUDELCO Recognition Awards (also known as Viv awards) annually. The awards were created to promote “recognition, understanding and awareness of the arts in the African-American community.” Upon the death of Robinson, Grace L. Jones carried on the organization’s vision and mission for 13 years until she passed in 2018. The legacy continues with Jackie Jeffries, a 32-year veteran of theater.


Ralph Carter, Bambi Jones, Linda Armstrong, André De Shields, Jackie Jeffries and Rome Neal. Photo by Lia Chang

(A)loft Modulation
A play with jazz
by Jaymes Jorsling
directed by Christopher McElroen
The American Vicarious | Mezzanine Theatre at A.R.T./New York
September 26 – October 27

Eric Miller and Charlie Hudson III. Photo by Lia Chang
Bambi Jones, Mary Seymour. Photo by Lia Chang

American Slavery Project’s Unheard Voices
Conceived and Directed by Judy Tate
American Slavery Project and Sheen Center
October 15 – 16

Messeret Stroman Wheeler. Photo by Lia Chang
Messeret Stroman Wheeler. Photo by Lia Chang
Messeret Stroman Wheeler. Photo by Lia Chang

Erich McMillan-McCall is the Founder and CEO of Project1VOICE, Inc. (P1V) a 501(c)(3), nonprofit performing arts service organization based in New York City. Its mission is to support and promote the American theater specifically the narrative of and by people of African descent. Through its innovative programs and partnerships, P1V works to provide significant support, accessibility and adequate representation for African American theater. P1V’s core activity is the coordination of an international, same-day staged reading series that revives and re-introduces forgotten seminal works by playwrights from the African Diaspora—a critical thread in the tapestry of the American theater—called One Play One Day. It takes place on the third Monday in June, each year.

Donna Briggs, Erich McMillan-McCall, Patrick L. Riley, Cherine Anderson and André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

Marcia Pendelton is the Founder and President of Walk Tall Girl Productions/Black Theater Online. The company, founded in 2000, is a New York-based boutique marketing, audience development and group sales agency for the performing arts, with a special emphasis placed on the theater. The company has provided its expertise in creating diverse audiences for over 25 Broadway shows including the Tony winning productions of Jitney, Fences, and FELA! and numerous Off-Broadway for productions for clients such as The Public Theater, Signature Theatre, Manhattan Theater Club, and many more. Follow the company on Twitter @blktheatronline and Instagram @walktallgirl.

André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang
André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (Kevin Young, Director, Schomburg Center) Founded in 1925 and named a National Historic Landmark in 2017, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is one of the world’s leading cultural institutions devoted to the research, preservation, and exhibition of materials focused on African American, African Diaspora, and African experiences. As a research division of The New York Public Library, the Schomburg Center features diverse programming and collections spanning over 11 million items that illuminate the richness of global black history, arts, and culture.

Ron Simons, Jaymes Jorsling, Glynn Borders, Donja R. Love, Robert O’Hara. Photo by Lia Chang
Ron Simons, Dr. Indira Etwaroo, Carl Clay, Kamilah Forbes. Photo by Lia Chang

Between The World And Me
Book by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Developed and Directed by Kamilah Forbes
Apollo Theatre
October 25, 26. 28

Kamilah Forbes. Photo by Lia Chang

Sassy Mamas
by Celeste Bedford Walker
directed by Lorna Little Way
Black Spectrum Theatre Company
October 11 – 27

Carl Clay. Photo by Lia Chang

Between The World And Me
Book by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Developed and Directed by Kamilah Forbes
Apollo Theatre
October 25, 26. 28

Kamal Bolden and Lisa Arrindell in a scene from James Sheldon’s Reparations. Photo by Lia Chang

Established with the collections of Arturo Alfonso Schomburg 93 years ago, the Schomburg has collected, preserved, and provided access to materials documenting black life in America and worldwide. It has also promoted the study and interpretation of the history and culture of people of African descent. In 2015, the Schomburg won the National Medal for Museum and Library Service and in January 2017, the Schomburg Center was named a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service, recognizing its vast collection of materials that represent the history and culture of people of African descent through a global, transnational perspective. Today, the Schomburg continues to serve the community not just as a center and a library, but also as a space that encourages lifelong education and exploration.

for all the women who thought they were MAD
by Zawe Ashton
directed by Whitney White
Soho Rep
October 14 – November 17

Ron Simons and Zawe Ashton. Photo by Lia Chang
Zawe Ashton. Photo by Lia Chang
Zawe Ashton. Photo by Lia Chang
Stephanie Berry. Photo by Lia Chang

The Black History Museum…
According to the United States of America
by Zoey Martinson
HERE
November 1 – 24

A monologue from The Black History Museum …According to the United States of America. Photo by Lia Chang

The Schomburg Center is committed to providing accessible programs and services for patrons with disabilities. All facilities and entrances are wheelchair accessible. American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation is available for most events with at least two weeks advance notice.

Ron Simons, Whitney White, Garlia Cornelia Jones-Ly, Christina Franklin, Saheem Ali. Photo by Lia Chang

The New Englanders
by Jeff Augustin
directed by Saheem Ali
Stage II at New York City Center | Manhattan Theater Club
September 17 – October 20

Fires in the Mirror
conceived, written and originally performed by Anna Deveare Smith
directed by Saheem Ali
Signature Theatre
October 22 – November 24

Saheem Ali. Photo by Lia Chang

runboyrun & IN OLD AGE
by Mfoniso Udofia
directed by Loretta Greco & Awoye Timpo
New York Theatre Workshop
September 4 – October 13

Zenzi Williams. Photo by Lia Chang
Adesola Osakalumi. Photo by Lia Chang
Adesola Osakalumi. Photo by Lia Chang
Zenzi Williams and Adesola Osakalumi. Photo by Lia Chang

Thoughts of a Colored Man
by Keenan Scott II
directed by Steven H. Broadnax III
Baltimore Center Stage
October 10 – November 10

Ron Simons and Keenan Scott II. Photo by Lia Chang
Ron Simons and Keenan Scott II. Photo by Lia Chang
Keenan Scott II. Photo by Lia Chang
Keenan Scott II. Photo by Lia Chang
Keenan Scott II, Ron Simons and André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang
Keenan Scott II and André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

Slave Play —
by Jeremy O. Harris
directed by Robert O’Hara
Golden Theatre
September 10 – January 5

for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf
by Ntozake Shange
directed by Leah Gardiner
choreographed by Camille A. Brown
The Public Theater
October 8 – November 24

Tina: The Tina Turner Musical
by Katori Hall
directed by Phyllida Lloyd
choreographed by Anthony Van Laast
Lunt-Fontanne Theatre
October 12 –

Broadbend, Arkansas – A new musical
by Ellen Fitzhugh & Harrison David Rivers
directed by Jack Cummings III
music by Ted Shen
The Transport Group in Association with The Public Theater
The Duke on 42nd Street
October 25 – November 23

one in two
by Donja R. Love
directed by Stevie Walker-Webb
The New Group at Pershing Square Signature Center
November 19 – December 29

The Dark Star of Harlem: The Spectacular Rise of Josephine Baker
by Glynn Borders & Mario E. Sprouse
The La Mama Experimental Theatre
November 21 – December 1

Live Radio Play – The Renaissance EP: A Theatrical Mixtape
by Nsangou Njikam
directed by Adesola Osakalumi
Harlem Stage
November 21-22

A Christmas Carol In Harlem
written by Charles Dickens
adaptation by Shawn René Graham
directed by Carl Coffield
choreographed by Tiffany Rea-Fisher
Classical Theatre of Harlem
December 4 – 21

BroadwayWorld Photo and Video Flash: Hadestown Star André De Shields Receives 2019 Project1voice Lifetime Achievement Award 

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 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

Emmy Award Winner and 2019 Tony Award Winner André De Shields to Be Honored at THE THEATERMAKERS – A Black Theater Preview: Fall Edition at The Schomburg Center on October 7

AUDELCO (Audience Development Committee) President Jackie Jeffries, Project1Voice Founder and CEO Erich McMillan-McCall, Marcia Pendelton, President of Walk Tall Girl Productions/Black Theater Online, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (Kevin Young, Director, Schomburg Center) are presenting THE THEATERMAKERS – A Black Theater Preview: Fall Edition at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (515 Malcolm X Blvd) on Monday, October 7, 2019 at 6:30 p.m. Four-time Tony Award®-winning producer Ron Simons of SimonSays Entertainment (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Porgy & Bess, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Jitney) will return as host. Black Theater Preview, now in its second year, brings attention to and celebrates the presence of black artists on stage: Broadway, Off-Broadway, and beyond.

THE THEATERMAKERS – A Black Theater Preview: Fall Edition, will feature presentations from a diverse theatrical roster including Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, Ta-Nehesi Coates’ Between Me and the World at The Apollo Theatre, and the Broadway-bound Thoughts of a Colored Man (Baltimore Center Stage). The evening will also present conversations with playwrights Jeremy O. Harris (Slave Play on Broadway), and Donja R. Love (one in two ), directors Saheem Ali (Fires in the Mirror, The New Englanders), and Michele Shay (Reparations), leaders of black theater institutions such as Dr. Indira Etwaroo (The Billie Holiday Theatre) and Kamilah Forbes (Apollo Theatre), and much more. Additionally, the program will dedicate the time to speak with and to honor Emmy Award-winner and 2019 Tony Award-winner André De Shields (Hadestown). Those attending the event will have access to a theater marketplace that will offer production details, discounts, and information from Black Theater service organizations.

A number of theater companies will participate in this evening of conversation, commentary and performance. They are:

runboyrun & IN OLD AGE
by Mfoniso Udofia
directed by Loretta Greco & Awoye Timpo
New York Theatre Workshop
September 4 – October 13

Slave Play —
by Jeremy O. Harris
directed by Robert O’Hara
Golden Theatre
September 10 – January 5

The New Englanders
by Jeff Augustin
directed by Saheem Ali
Stage II at New York City Center | Manhattan Theater Club
September 17 – October 20

(A)loft Modulation
A play with jazz
by Jaymes Jorsling
directed by Christopher McElroen
The American Vicarious | Mezzanine Theatre at A.R.T./New York
September 26 – October 27

for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf
by Ntozake Shange
directed by Leah Gardiner
choreographed by Camille A. Brown
The Public Theater
October 8 – November 24

Thoughts of a Colored Man
by Keenan Scott II
directed by Steven H. Broadnax III
Baltimore Center Stage
October 10 – November 10

Sassy Mamas
by Celeste Bedford Walker
directed by Lorna Little Way
Black Spectrum Theatre Company
October 11 – 27

Tina: The Tina Turner Musical
by Katori Hall
directed by Phyllida Lloyd
choreographed by Anthony Van Laast
Lunt-Fontanne Theatre
October 12 –

for all the women who thought they were MAD
by Zawe Ashton
directed by Whitney White
Soho Rep
October 14 – November 17

American Slavery Project’s Unheard Voices
Conceived and Directed by Judy Tate
American Slavery Project and Sheen Center
October 15 – 16

Fires in the Mirror
conceived, written and originally performed by Anna Deveare Smith
directed by Saheem Ali
Signature Theatre
October 22 – November 24

Between The World And Me
Book by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Developed and Directed by Kamilah Forbes
Apollo Theatre
October 25, 26. 28

Reparations
by James Sheldon
directed by Michele Shay
The Billie Holiday Theatre
October 25 – November 24

Broadbend, Arkansas – A new musical
by Ellen Fitzhugh & Harrison David Rivers
directed by Jack Cummings III
music by Ted Shen
The Transport Group in Association with The Public Theater
The Duke on 42nd Street
October 25 – November 23

The Black History Museum…
According to the United States of America
by Zoey Martinson
HERE
November 1 – 24

one in two
by Donja R. Love
directed by Stevie Walker-Webb
The New Group at Pershing Square Signature Center
November 19 – December 29

The Dark Star of Harlem: The Spectacular Rise of Josephine Baker
by Glynn Borders & Mario E. Sprouse
The La Mama Experimental Theatre
November 21 – December 1

Live Radio Play – The Renaissance EP: A Theatrical Mixtape
by Nsangou Njikam
directed by Adesola Osakalumi
Harlem Stage
November 21-22

A Christmas Carol In Harlem
written by Charles Dickens
adaptation by Shawn René Graham
directed by Carl Coffield
choreographed by Tiffany Rea-Fisher
Classical Theatre of Harlem
December 4 – 21

Special Appearances:
Jay Delise – Spoken word artist
Girl Be Heard

André De Shields
Emmy Award and Tony Award winner

Participants and program subject to change.

THE THEATERMAKERS – A Black Theater Preview: Fall Edition is free. Seating is limited. RSVPs are required. For reservations visit www.Schomburg.org.

#BlackTheaterFallPreview2019

WHO’S WHO

André De Shields is the triple-crown winner of the 2019 theater awards season, having won the Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk and Tony Awards as Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his unanimously critically acclaimed performance as Hermes, Messenger to the Gods, in Hadestown. The Actors’ Equity Foundation followed suit with the Richard Seff Award, which honors veteran stage actors’ best supporting performances of the year. Mr. De Shields will receive The York Theatre Company’s 2019 Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musical Theatre on November 11 and will be inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame on November 18. He recently received the Key to the City of Baltimore from Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young. Prior to his Tony Award win, Mr. De Shields was best known for his show-stopping performances in four legendary Broadway productions: The Wiz, Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Emmy Award), Play On! (Tony Nomination), and The Full Monty (Tony Nomination). In a career spanning fifty 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. www.andredeshields.com

AUDELCO, the Audience Development Committee, Inc., was established in 1973 by Vivian Robinson to honor excellence in African-American theatre in New York City. AUDELCO presents the Vivian Robinson/AUDELCO Recognition Awards (also known as Viv awards) annually. The awards were created to promote “recognition, understanding and awareness of the arts in the African-American community.” Upon the death of Robinson, Grace L. Jones carried on the organization’s vision and mission for 13 years until she passed in 2018. The legacy continues with Jackie Jeffries, a 32-year veteran of theater.

Erich McMillan-McCall is the Founder and CEO of Project1VOICE, Inc. (P1V) a 501(c)(3), nonprofit performing arts service organization based in New York City. Its mission is to support and promote the American theater specifically the narrative of and by people of African descent. Through its innovative programs and partnerships, P1V works to provide significant support, accessibility and adequate representation for African American theater. P1V’s core activity is the coordination of an international, same-day staged reading series that revives and re-introduces forgotten seminal works by playwrights from the African Diaspora—a critical thread in the tapestry of the American theater—called One Play One Day. It takes place on the third Monday in June, each year.

Marcia Pendelton is the Founder and President of Walk Tall Girl Productions/Black Theater Online. The company, founded in 2000, is a New York-based boutique marketing, audience development and group sales agency for the performing arts, with a special emphasis placed on the theater. The company has provided its expertise in creating diverse audiences for over 25 Broadway shows including the Tony winning productions of Jitney, Fences, and FELA! and numerous Off-Broadway for productions for clients such as The Public Theater, Signature Theatre, Manhattan Theater Club, and many more. Follow the company on Twitter @blktheatronline and Instagram @walktallgirl.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (Kevin Young, Director, Schomburg Center) Founded in 1925 and named a National Historic Landmark in 2017, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is one of the world’s leading cultural institutions devoted to the research, preservation, and exhibition of materials focused on African American, African Diaspora, and African experiences. As a research division of The New York Public Library, the Schomburg Center features diverse programming and collections spanning over 11 million items that illuminate the richness of global black history, arts, and culture.

Established with the collections of Arturo Alfonso Schomburg 93 years ago, the Schomburg has collected, preserved, and provided access to materials documenting black life in America and worldwide. It has also promoted the study and interpretation of the history and culture of people of African descent. In 2015, the Schomburg won the National Medal for Museum and Library Service and in January 2017, the Schomburg Center was named a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service, recognizing its vast collection of materials that represent the history and culture of people of African descent through a global, transnational perspective. Today, the Schomburg continues to serve the community not just as a center and a library, but also as a space that encourages lifelong education and exploration.

The Schomburg Center is committed to providing accessible programs and services for patrons with disabilities. All facilities and entrances are wheelchair accessible. American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation is available for most events with at least two weeks advance notice.

Follow the Schomburg Center on Instagram and Twitter @schomburgcenter

Ron Simons is a four-time Tony Award-winning producer, four-time Sundance Film Festival selected producer and actor of stage, film and television. He is the Founder and CEO of SimonSays Entertainment. Simons recently won his 4th Tony Award for the August Wilson hit Broadway show Jitney, under the category “Best Revival of a Play,” making him the highest African-American Tony Award winning producer of all time, and cementing him as the leading Broadway producer working today bringing diversity to the stage.

As CEO/President of SimonSays Entertainment, Ron Simons leads the strategic planning and development of theatre and film projects including the critically acclaimed films “Night Catches Us,” “Gun Hill Road,” “Blue Caprice” and “Mother of George” (all of which premiered at Sundance). His first documentary “25 to Life” premiered at the American Black Film Festival where it won Best Documentary. He also produced the Broadway productions of Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (Tony Award for Best Musical), Porgy & Bess (Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical), Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Tony Award for Best Play, Drama Desk, New Drama Critics and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Play, Drama League Award for Outstanding Production of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Play),and A Streetcar Named Desire (AEA’s Extraordinary Excellence in Diversity on Broadway Award). Off-Broadway projects include Turn Me Loose, Bedlam’s St. Joan and Bedlam’s Hamlet Awards Off-Broadway Alliance Award – Best Revival (for Saint Joan) and the Chicago production of 5 Lesbians Eating Quiche which received the FringeNYC Outstanding Production Award. He most recently received the Emerging Producer Award at the 2017 National Black Theatre Festival Opening Gala. Follow Ron Simos on Instagram @therealronsimons

Leslie Uggams, Kamilah Forbes, Pearl Cleage, Michele Shay, Art Evans, Marjorie Moon, Thembi Mtshali, Roscoe Orman, Frenchie La’Vern, Xavier Pierce, James V. Thomas, Femi Sarah Heggie, Idris Ackamoor, Herman LeVern Thompson-Jones, Rhodessa Jones, Dr. Elwanda Ingram and Black Spectrum Theatre Company Will Be Honored at the 2019 National Black Theatre Festival on July 29

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. Congrats to all of the 2019 National Black Theatre Festival honorees who will be feted at the Gala in Winston-Salem on July 29.

2019 NATIONAL BLACK THEATRE FESTIVAL® HONOREES
Sidney Poitier Lifelong Achievement Award
Leslie Uggams
Leslie Uggams
 
Larry Leon Hamlin Producer Award
Kamilah Forbes
Kamilah Forbes. Photo by Lia Chang
August Wilson Playwright Award
Pearl Cleage
Pearl Cleage
Lloyd Richards Director Award
Michele Shay
Living Legend Award
Art Evans ● Marjorie Moon
Thembi Mtshali ● Roscoe Orman
Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design
Frenchie La’Vern
Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Design
Xavier Pierce
Outstanding Achievement in Scenic Design
 James V. Thomas
Outstanding Achievement in Stage Management
 Femi Sarah Heggie
Theatre Longevity Award
Black Spectrum Theatre Company
New York, NY
Special Recognition Award
Idris Ackamoor ● Herman LeVern Thompson-Jones
Rhodessa Jones
Marvtastic Philanthrophy Award
Branch Banking & Trust Company (BB&T)
Theatre Arts & Humanitarian Award
Dr. Elwanda Ingram
The 2019 National Black Theatre Festival will be held July 29-August 3, 2019. For more information, please visit: www.ncblackrep.org.
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.

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 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.

6:30pm – CELEBRITY PROCESSION
With NBTF Co-Chairs, Margaret Avery and Chester Gregory.

 6:45pm – AWARDS PRESENTATION

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)

10:30pm – CELEBRITY RECEPTION

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

“Black Mirror” Emmy winner Denise Burse, Pauletta Pearson Washington and More Open in THE OLD SETTLER at The Billie Holiday Theatre

Warner Miller, Denise Burse, Pauletta Pearson Washington and Maechi Aharanwa. Photo by Lia Chang

The Billie Holiday Theatre (The Billie) launches its 46th Season in the newly-renovated theater with the opening of THE OLD SETTLER tonight, written by Brooklyn-born playwright John Henry Redwood and directed by Tony Award nominee Michele Shay.

Warner Miller, Denise Burse, Pauletta Pearson Washington and Maechi Aharanwa. Photo by Lia Chang
Warner Miller, Denise Burse, Pauletta Pearson Washington and Maechi Aharanwa. Photo by Lia Chang

THE OLD SETTLER features The Billie veterans Pauletta Pearson Washington (Two Trains Running, Autumn), “Black Mirror” Emmy winner Denise Burse (Brownsville Song: b side for Trey, House of Payne), and Warner Miller (“Luke Cage”), and newcomer and Juilliard graduate Maechi Aharanwa (An Octoroon).

Set in 1943 Harlem, THE OLD SETTLER focuses on two sisters’ struggle to afford their rising rent. Faced with a choice between giving up their apartment and renting out their extra room to a stranger, they decide to take a chance on a boarder, newly arrived from the South. In equal measures funny and poignant, THE OLD SETTLER is a glimpse into the heart of an American City.

Denise Burse, Michele Shay and Pauletta Pearson Washington. Photo by Lia Chang
Denise Burse, Michele Shay and Pauletta Pearson Washington. Photo by Lia Chang

“The vitality and beauty of this work moves me every time I see it,” said Michele Shay. “Our beloved Maya Angelou said it best: ‘People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ That’s the all-important sweet spot playwright John Henry Redwood digs into in this humorous, passionate, insightful glimpse into the roller coaster of relationships . The characters’ struggles are our struggles; their desires, ours. When it was first written in the late 1990s, it became one of the most produced plays of its time , because you simply can’t forget how deeply these characters make you feel. It is a timeless story that rings as true now as it did then.”

Lia Chang, Denise Burse and Pauletta Pearson Washington. Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang, Denise Burse and Pauletta Pearson Washington. Photo by Garth Kravits

Carolyn Reich stage manages THE OLD SETTLER, and the creative team includes lighting design by David Moodey, sound design by Kevin Novinsky, costume design by Niiamar Felder, and scenic design and props by Frank Oliva.

Tickets are available at TheBillieHoliday.org. Subscriptions to the 2017-2018 season are on sale by calling 718-636-6995 or by visiting the website.

The Billie Holiday Theatre (The Billie), founded in 1972 by Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, is an OBIE and AUDELCO Award-winning theaterdevoted to the discovery of world-class storytelling with a focus on stories for, by and about people of African descent with 3-4 productions annually. The Billie presents, promotes and sustains art that reflects the definitive issues of our time in and through all of its forms of expression, especially drama, and including jazz, opera, ballet, film, poetry, and other forms of intellectual and instructive entertainment; to produce and stimulate performances or theatrical productions of all kinds with a focus on, but not limited to the African American experience; and to commission and premiere original works.

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

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BLACK MIRROR’s Denise Burse, Pauletta Pearson Washington, Warner Miller and Maechi Aharanwa Set for THE OLD SETTLER at The Billie Holiday Theatre, October 20 – November 19

The Billie Holiday Theatre (The Billie) is launching its 46th Season in the newly-renovated theater with a production of The Old Settler, written by Brooklyn-born playwright John Henry Redwood and directed by Tony Award nominee Michele Shay.

The Old Settler will feature The Billie veterans Pauletta Pearson Washington (Two Trains Running, Autumn), Denise Burse (Emmy-winning “Black Mirror”. Brownsville Song: b side for Trey, “House of Payne”), and Warner Miller (“Luke Cage”), as well as newcomer and Juilliard graduate Maechi Aharanwa (An Octoroon).

Set in 1943 Harlem, The Old Settler focuses on two sisters’ struggle to afford their rising rent. Faced with a choice between giving up their apartment and renting out their extra room to a stranger, they decide to take a chance on a boarder, newly arrived from the South. In equal measures funny and poignant, The Old Settler is a glimpse into the heart of an American City.

“The vitality and beauty of this work moves me every time I see it,” said Michele Shay. “Our beloved Maya Angelou said it best: ‘People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ That’s the all-important sweet spot playwright John Henry Redwood digs into in this humorous, passionate, insightful glimpse into the roller coaster of relationships . The characters’ struggles are our struggles; their desires, ours. When it was first written in the late 1990s, it became one of the most produced plays of its time , because you simply can’t forget how deeply these characters make you feel. It is a timeless story that rings as true now as it did then.”

The Old Settler will be stage managed by Carolyn Reich. Lighting will be designed by David Moodey, sound design by Kevin Novinsky, costume design by Niiamar Felder, and scenic design and props by Frank Oliva.

The first full production in the newly renovated theatre, The Old Settler will run from October 20 – November 19, 2017. Tickets are available at TheBillieHoliday.org. You can currently take advantage of a family and friends discount of 25% with the code FAMILY1943. Subscriptions to the 2017-2018 season are on sale by calling 718-636-6995 or by visiting the website.

The Billie Holiday Theatre (The Billie), founded in 1972 by Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, is an OBIE and AUDELCO Award-winning theaterdevoted to the discovery of world-class storytelling with a focus on stories for, by and about people of African descent with 3-4 productions annually. The Billie presents, promotes and sustains art that reflects the definitive issues of our time in and through all of its forms of expression, especially drama, and including jazz, opera, ballet, film, poetry, and other forms of intellectual and instructive entertainment; to produce and stimulate performances or theatrical productions of all kinds with a focus on, but not limited to the African American experience; and to commission and premiere original works.

BWW Review: Classic RAISIN IN THE SUN at Rep Spotlights How Far We Haven’t Come

Q & A: Denise Burse talks ‘Anesthesia’, Netflix’s ‘Black Mirror’, and ‘Brownsville Song (B-Side for Tray)’

Denise Burse as Claretha Jenkins in House of Payne’s “Payneful Visit” 

MR ROBOT’S BD Wong Talks Emmy Nomination, MR. HOLLAND’S OPUS, JURASSIC WORLD, Academy Invite, #OscarsSoWhite and More

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

BLACK MIRROR Star Denise Burse and Peter Jay Fernandez Attend 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards

Peter Jay Fernandez and his wife Denise Burse attend the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.
Peter Jay Fernandez and his wife Denise Burse attend the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.
Peter Jay Fernandez and his wife Denise Burse attend the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 17, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

Before Denise Burse begins rehearsal for John Henry Redwood’s The Old Settler at The Billie Holiday Theatre (The Billie), she is attending the 69th Annual Emmy Awards with her husband Peter Jay Fernandez (“Luke Cage”)  at the Microsoft Theater in LA tonight for the “San Junipero” episode of Netflix’s sci-fi anthology series  “Black Mirror,” where she played Elder Kelly, the elder version of Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s character, shot on location in London and Capetown.

Critically-acclaimed and a fan favorite, “San Junipero” is up for two Emmy nominations: the first is for Charlie Brooker, for Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special, and the second is in the Outstanding TV Movie category.

Denise Burse as Elder Kelly in the "San Junipero" episode of "Black Mirror".
Denise Burse as Elder Kelly in the “San Junipero” episode of “Black Mirror

Ms. Burse shared, “I was very proud of the “Black Mirror” episode “San Junipero”. Our episode was written and produced by Charlie Brooker the creator of the “Black Mirror” series. It was very exciting to be on the set with the mastermind behind a show that has been so well received from fans across the country, but this episode has been submitted in film festivals around the globe and received critical acclaim as a stand alone story. It was an honor to be a member of such stellar cast and crew. We owe a great deal of the positive outcome of the episode to our director Owen Harris.”

Collider.com: ‘Black Mirror’: Charlie Brooker and Gugu Mbatha-Raw Talk “San Junipero” in Our Spoiler Interview

Emmys 2017: why San Junipero’s heartbreaking vision of Heaven will live forever

Black Mirror wins Outstanding Television Movie Emmy

Updated: 9/17/17

“Black Mirror” won in both categories -Charlie Brooker, for Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special, and for Outstanding TV Movie. Below are the acceptance speeches.

Ms. Burse had a blast working on one of her favorite shows, the very popular “Greenleaf” on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, appearing as Kevin’s mother, Ethlin Satterlee, in the season 2, episode 3 entitled, “A Mother’s Love.”

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THE OLD SETTLER at The Billie, October 20 – November 19

Maechi Aharanwa, Pauletta Washington Denise Burse and Warner Joseph Miller.
Maechi Aharanwa, Pauletta Washington Denise Burse and Warner Joseph Miller.

Helmed by Tony Award nominee Michele Shay, The Billie is launching its 46th season in the newly renovated theater with The Old Settler, October 20 – November 19, 2017.  In addition to Ms. Burse (Brownsville Song: b side for Trey, “House of Payne”), the cast also features Pauletta Pearson Washington (Two Trains Running, Autumn), Warner Miller (“Luke Cage”), as well as newcomer and Juilliard graduate Maechi Aharanwa (An Octoroon).

Set in 1943 Harlem, The Old Settler focuses on two sisters’ struggle to afford their rising rent. Faced with a choice between giving up their apartment and renting out their extra room to a stranger, they decide to take a chance on a boarder, newly arrived from the South. In equal measures funny and poignant, The Old Settler is a glimpse into the heart of an American City.

The Old Settler will be stage managed by Carolyn Reich. The design team includes lighting design by David Moodey, sound design by Kevin Novinsky, costume design by Niiamar Felder, and scenic design and props by Frank Oliva.

Tickets are available at TheBillieHoliday.org. Subscriptions to the 2017-2018 season are on sale by calling 718-636-6995 or by visiting the website.

Ms. Burse can be seen in Tim Blake Nelson’s Anesthesia and Bruce Beresford’s Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding opposite Jane Fonda. Her favorite film roles include her co-starring turns as Martin Luther King, Jr.’s mother opposite Howard Rollins in The Boy King (WSB); as Buster Marshall, Thurgood Marshall’s wife in Simple Justice (PBS American Experience); as Sister Marcie in Preaching to the Choir, directed by Charles Randolph Wright, as Sergeant Martin in A Time to Triumph (CBS) starring Patty Duke; and as Eleanor Clark in Resting Place (CBS, Hallmark Hall of Fame), starring John Lithgow and Morgan Freeman. Other film and TV credits include the BET/STARZ movie Funny Valentines, with Alfre Woodard and Loretta Devine, Angel, Basquiat, The Juror, Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Third Watch, 100 Centre Street, The Sopranos, The Cosby Show, New York Undercover and One Life to Live.

Ms. Burse appeared on Broadway in Wendy Wasserstein’s An American Daughter, directed by Daniel Sullivan. Her Off-Broadway credits include Eisa Davis’ Angela’s Mixtape (Ohio Theatre), Don Juan of Seville (Classical Stage Company), Ground People (American Place Theatre), Harriet’s Return (Cherry Lane Theatre), Hannah Davis (Negro Ensemble Company) and Bill Harris’ Robert Johnson: Trick the Devil (New Federal Theatre). Her regional credits include Marcus Gardley’s dance of the holy ghosts with Michael Genet (CENTERSTAGE); Pearl Cleage’s Flyin’ West with Ruby Dee at The Kennedy Center; Charles Randolph Wright’s Blue (Cincinnati Playhouse, Geva); Miss Evers’ Boys (Illusion Theater); African Company Presents Richard III (Cleveland Playhouse); Fences (CENTERSTAGE); A Raisin in the SunThe Piano Lesson (Seattle Repertory Theatre, director Lloyd Richards) and James Baldwin’s The Amen Corner (True Colors Theatre Company/Alliance Theatre). Helmer Kenny Leon has directed her in August Wilson’s Fences (Alliance Theatre), Radio Golf (CENTERSTAGE, Mark Taper Forum, Seattle Repertory Theatre), The Piano Lesson and Seven Guitars (Alliance Theatre). Ms. Burse garnered a Theatre World Award for her Off-Broadway debut in Ground People and an AUDELCO Award for Robert Johnson: Trick The Devil.

Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako (Beneatha Younger), Mia Ellis (Ruth Younger), Denise Burse (Lena Younger), Catalino Manalang (Travis Younger), Richard Prioleau (Walter Lee) in A Raisin in the Sun at Seattle Repertory Theatre. Photo credit: Alan Alabastro
Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako (Beneatha Younger), Mia Ellis (Ruth Younger), Denise Burse (Lena Younger), Catalino Manalang (Travis Younger), Richard Prioleau (Walter Lee) in A Raisin in the Sun at Seattle Repertory Theatre. Photo credit: Alan Alabastro

A native of Atlanta, Ms. Burse honed her craft performing at the Just Us Theatre, The Alliance Theatre and The Atlanta Children’s Theater.

Ms. Burse is repped by Brett Adams Ltd. Artists’ Agency.

BWW Review: Classic RAISIN IN THE SUN at Rep Spotlights How Far We Haven’t Come

Q & A: Denise Burse talks ‘Anesthesia’, Netflix’s ‘Black Mirror’, and ‘Brownsville Song (B-Side for Tray)’

Denise Burse as Claretha Jenkins in House of Payne’s “Payneful Visit” 

MR ROBOT’S BD Wong Talks Emmy Nomination, MR. HOLLAND’S OPUS, JURASSIC WORLD, Academy Invite, #OscarsSoWhite and More

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

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BLACK MIRROR’s Denise Burse, Pauletta Pearson Washington, Warner Miller and Maechi Aharanwa Set for THE OLD SETTLER at The Billie Holiday Theatre, October 20 – November 19

Maechi Aharanwa, Pauletta Washington Denise Burse and Warner Joseph Miller.
Denise Burse. Photo by Lia Chang
Denise Burse. Photo by Lia Chang

Before Denise Burse begins rehearsal for John Henry Redwood’s The Old Settler at The Billie Holiday Theatre (The Billie), she is headed to the 69th Annual Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater in LA on September 17th for the “San Junipero” episode of Netflix’s sci-fi anthology series  “Black Mirror,” where she played Elder Kelly, the elder version of Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s character, shot on location in London and Capetown.

Critically-acclaimed and a fan favorite, “San Junipero” is up for two Emmy nominations: the first is for Charlie Brooker, for Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special, and the second is in the Outstanding TV Movie category.

Denise Burse as Elder Kelly in the "San Junipero" episode of "Black Mirror".
Denise Burse as Elder Kelly in the “San Junipero” episode of “Black Mirror

Ms. Burse shared, “I was very proud of the “Black Mirror” episode “San Junipero”. Our episode was written and produced by Charlie Brooker the creator of the “Black Mirror” series. It was very exciting to be on the set with the mastermind behind a show that has been so well received from fans across the country, but this episode has been submitted in film festivals around the globe and received critical acclaim as a stand alone story. It was an honor to be a member of such stellar cast and crew. We owe a great deal of the positive outcome of the episode to our director Owen Harris.”

Collider.com: ‘Black Mirror’: Charlie Brooker and Gugu Mbatha-Raw Talk “San Junipero” in Our Spoiler Interview

Ms. Burse had a blast working on one of her favorite shows, the very popular “Greenleaf” on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, appearing as Kevin’s mother, Ethlin Satterlee, in the season 2, episode 3 entitled, “A Mother’s Love.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

THE OLD SETTLER at The Billie, October 20 – November 19

Maechi Aharanwa, Pauletta Washington Denise Burse and Warner Joseph Miller.
Maechi Aharanwa, Pauletta Washington Denise Burse and Warner Joseph Miller.

Helmed by Tony Award nominee Michele Shay, The Billie is launching its 46th season in the newly renovated theater with The Old Settler, October 20 – November 19, 2017.  In addition to Ms. Burse (Brownsville Song: b side for Trey, “House of Payne”), the cast also features Pauletta Pearson Washington (Two Trains Running, Autumn), Warner Miller (“Luke Cage”), as well as newcomer and Juilliard graduate Maechi Aharanwa (An Octoroon).

Set in 1943 Harlem, The Old Settler focuses on two sisters’ struggle to afford their rising rent. Faced with a choice between giving up their apartment and renting out their extra room to a stranger, they decide to take a chance on a boarder, newly arrived from the South. In equal measures funny and poignant, The Old Settler is a glimpse into the heart of an American City.

The Old Settler will be stage managed by Carolyn Reich. The design team includes lighting design by David Moodey, sound design by Kevin Novinsky, costume design by Niiamar Felder, and scenic design and props by Frank Oliva.

Tickets are available at TheBillieHoliday.org. Subscriptions to the 2017-2018 season are on sale by calling 718-636-6995 or by visiting the website.

Ms. Burse can be seen in Tim Blake Nelson’s Anesthesia and Bruce Beresford’s Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding opposite Jane Fonda. Her favorite film roles include her co-starring turns as Martin Luther King, Jr.’s mother opposite Howard Rollins in The Boy King (WSB); as Buster Marshall, Thurgood Marshall’s wife in Simple Justice (PBS American Experience); as Sister Marcie in Preaching to the Choir, directed by Charles Randolph Wright, as Sergeant Martin in A Time to Triumph (CBS) starring Patty Duke; and as Eleanor Clark in Resting Place (CBS, Hallmark Hall of Fame), starring John Lithgow and Morgan Freeman. Other film and TV credits include the BET/STARZ movie Funny Valentines, with Alfre Woodard and Loretta Devine, Angel, Basquiat, The Juror, Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Third Watch, 100 Centre Street, The Sopranos, The Cosby Show, New York Undercover and One Life to Live.

Ms. Burse appeared on Broadway in Wendy Wasserstein’s An American Daughter, directed by Daniel Sullivan. Her Off-Broadway credits include Eisa Davis’ Angela’s Mixtape (Ohio Theatre), Don Juan of Seville (Classical Stage Company), Ground People (American Place Theatre), Harriet’s Return (Cherry Lane Theatre), Hannah Davis (Negro Ensemble Company) and Bill Harris’ Robert Johnson: Trick the Devil (New Federal Theatre). Her regional credits include Marcus Gardley’s dance of the holy ghosts with Michael Genet (CENTERSTAGE); Pearl Cleage’s Flyin’ West with Ruby Dee at The Kennedy Center; Charles Randolph Wright’s Blue (Cincinnati Playhouse, Geva); Miss Evers’ Boys (Illusion Theater); African Company Presents Richard III (Cleveland Playhouse); Fences (CENTERSTAGE); A Raisin in the SunThe Piano Lesson (Seattle Repertory Theatre, director Lloyd Richards) and James Baldwin’s The Amen Corner (True Colors Theatre Company/Alliance Theatre). Helmer Kenny Leon has directed her in August Wilson’s Fences (Alliance Theatre), Radio Golf (CENTERSTAGE, Mark Taper Forum, Seattle Repertory Theatre), The Piano Lesson and Seven Guitars (Alliance Theatre). Ms. Burse garnered a Theatre World Award for her Off-Broadway debut in Ground People and an AUDELCO Award for Robert Johnson: Trick The Devil.

Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako (Beneatha Younger), Mia Ellis (Ruth Younger), Denise Burse (Lena Younger), Catalino Manalang (Travis Younger), Richard Prioleau (Walter Lee) in A Raisin in the Sun at Seattle Repertory Theatre. Photo credit: Alan Alabastro
Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako (Beneatha Younger), Mia Ellis (Ruth Younger), Denise Burse (Lena Younger), Catalino Manalang (Travis Younger), Richard Prioleau (Walter Lee) in A Raisin in the Sun at Seattle Repertory Theatre. Photo credit: Alan Alabastro

BWW Review: Classic RAISIN IN THE SUN at Rep Spotlights How Far We Haven’t Come

A native of Atlanta, Ms. Burse honed her craft performing at the Just Us Theatre, The Alliance Theatre and The Atlanta Children’s Theater.

Ms. Burse is repped by Brett Adams Ltd. Artists’ Agency.

BWW Review: Classic RAISIN IN THE SUN at Rep Spotlights How Far We Haven’t Come

Q & A: Denise Burse talks ‘Anesthesia’, Netflix’s ‘Black Mirror’, and ‘Brownsville Song (B-Side for Tray)’

Denise Burse as Claretha Jenkins in House of Payne’s “Payneful Visit” 

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

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Negro Ensemble Company Gala Benefit on September 11; A SOLDIER’S PLAY Revival Set for 50th Season, September 27 – October 8

Original cast of "A Soldier's Play" by Charles Fuller, presented by Negro Ensemble Company at Theatre Four, 1981. Brent Jennings, Steven Jones, Eugene Lee, Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Jame Pickens and Reyno Shine. Photo by Bert Andrews

For its 50th season, The Negro Ensemble Company, Inc. (NEC) has been presenting a retrospective of some of the troupe’s signature works.

The culminating event of this landmark season will be NEC’s most famous and successful production, “A Soldier’s Play” by Charles Fuller, which NEC first presented in 1981 at Theatre Four. That production ran for two years, earned unanimous praise and launched the careers of many current stars, but has never again had a major production in New York.

Original cast of "A Soldier's Play" by Charles Fuller, presented by Negro Ensemble Company at Theatre Four, 1981. Brent Jennings, Steven Jones, Eugene Lee, Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Jame Pickens and Reyno Shine. Photo by Bert Andrews
Original cast of “A Soldier’s Play” by Charles Fuller, presented by Negro Ensemble Company at Theatre Four, 1981. Brent Jennings, Steven Jones, Eugene Lee, Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Jame Pickens and Reyno Shine. Photo by Bert Andrews

NEC will revive the play September 27 to October 8 at Theatre 80 St. Marks, directed by Charles Weldon, the troupe’s current Artistic Director.

The play uses a murder mystery in a segregated U.S. Army base during World War II to expose angers and resentments among African Americans that curiously mimic white racist attitudes. A black Captain is sent to investigate the murder of a black Sergeant. The setting is a segregated Army base in Louisiana where a black officer wielding authority is unprecedented and bitterly resented. The Sargent is revealed as tyrannical in nature and disgusted with his fellow black soldiers, particularly those from the rural South. The unit is comprised of former Negro Leagues players who were grouped as a unit in order to provide entertainment. Their success playing against white soldiers makes them so popular that it generates talk of them playing against the Yankees in an exhibition game. Nevertheless, they are assigned to menial jobs. The Sargent’s murder at first seems attributable to the local KKK. But when the true murderers are found, surprising and unsettling divisions among the black troops will be revealed. Social forces that might be unveiled, however, will be swept under the rug of history, since the platoon is about to deploy to Europe for the honor of participating in the great Allied invasion. The play won the Pulitzer Prize, an Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Play, a New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best American Play and three Obie Awards.

“A Soldier’s Play” ran for two years Off-Broadway and became the most acclaimed production in NEC’s body of work. It gave birth, so to speak, to the careers of Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Adolph Caesar and James Pickens, Jr. NEC’s co-founder Douglas Turner Ward, who was the play’s original director, has written that he was certain of the play’s success from the very beginning, not least because he was so certain of its casting, most of the actors having already appeared at the NEC.

In 1984, a faithful adaptation of the play was filmed Columbia Pictures as “A Soldier’s Story,” directed by Norman Jewison, adapted by Fuller from his Pulitzer Prize-winning script. It won prestigious festival prizes and was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Supporting Actor (Adolph Caesar), and Screenplay Adaptation (Fuller).

This 50th Season production will be directed by Charles Weldon, who acted in “A Soldier’s Story” in 1983 at the Mark Taper Forum. His cast-mates also included Robert Hooks, Denny Holiday, Earl Billings, Adolph Caesar, Denzel Washington and Larry Riley. In revisiting the play, Weldon has cast actors who are similar in their effect to those who played the original characters in 1981. The 2017 cast is: Gilbert Tucker, Layon Gray, P.J. Max, Horace Glasper, Buck Hinkle, Derek Dean, Jay Ward, Arron Lloyd, Adrain Washington, Fulton Hodges, Aaron Sparks and Jimmy Gary, Jr. Their 1981 counterparts were: Adolph Caesar, CharLes Brown, Brent Jennings, Samuel L. Jackson, Peter Friedman, Cotter Smith, Eugene Lee, James Pickens, Jr., Denzel Washington, Steven A. Jones, Stephen Zettler and Larry Riley.

Set design is by Chris Cumberbatch. Lighting Design is by Melody A. Beal. Costume Design is by Ali Turns. Sound Design is by Jacqui Anscombe.

Presented by Negro Ensemble Company, Inc. (www.necinc.org)
Performance Schedule: Wednesdays through Fridays at 7:00 PM, Saturdays and Sundays at 3:00 PM and 7:00 PM. Tickets: $25 General Admission; $20 Students, Seniors and Groups of 10 or more. Previews September 27 & 28, opens September 29. Opening night celebration $20 additional.
Box office: 866-811-4111, www.necinc.org. Group sales 212-582-5860.

NEC GALA SEPTEMBER 11

Director/actor Michelle Shay and actor Brandon Dirden, joined by comedian Rhonda Hansome and jazz musicians Pam Hamilton/Rob Dors Duo, will host Negro Ensemble Company’s Golden Celebration September 11 from 6:00 to 10:00 PM at Dwyer Cultural Center: 258 St Nicholas Avenue (enter 123rd Street between St. Nicholas Ave & Fredrick Douglas Blvd.). There will be a photo exhibit by Carmen de Jesus curated by Debra Vanderberg Spencer and a screening of “A Soldier’s Play and Beyond,” produced and directed by Susan Watson-Turner. Lighting designer Shirley Prendergast will be honored. Tickets are $150 – $50 and can be purchased on the NEC website, necinc.org, or by calling Ovation Tix at 866-811-4111.

Playwright Charles Fuller has been a prominent contributor to the repertory of the NEC, beginning with “In the Deepest Part of Sleep,” a four-character domestic drama, and a succession of larger, more historical plays with themes of justice, including “The Brownsville Raid” and “Zooman and the Sign.” Other productions with NEC include two epic cycles, “In My Many Names and Days” and “We.” He has written about twenty major theatrical works. Although in recent years, he has concentrated mostly on writing for the screen, he tackled the searing subject of sexual assault in the armed forces with a new play, “One Night …,” which was produced at the Cherry Lane Theater in 2013. He was born and raised in Philadelphia and served in the U.S. Army from 1959 to 1962, after which he studied at La Salle University (1965-1967), earning a DFA. He has received a Guggenheim Award and NEA fellowship for playwriting, taught playwriting at Temple University and co-founded the Afro-American Arts Theatre Philadelphia.

Director Charles Weldon has been Artistic Director of Negro Ensemble Company, Inc. for twelve years. He has directed the company’s productions of “Colored People Time” by Leslie Lee, “The Waiting Room” by Samm-Art Williams, “Savanna Black and Blue” by Raymond Jones, “Ceremonies in Dark Old Men” by Lonnie Elder and “Hercules Didn’t Wade in the Water” by Michael A. Jones. He has also directed and acted prolifically in regional theaters. Weldon began his performance career in 1960 as lead singer with The Paradons, a Doo-Wop group from Bakersfield, CA, and co-wrote and recorded the smash hit “Diamonds and Pearls.” He performed in the original San Francisco production of “Hair” and the Broadway musical “Buck Time Buck White” with Mohammed Ali. He joined the Negro Ensemble Company in 1970 and acted in many of its classic plays including “A Soldier’s Play,” “The Great McDaddy,” “The Offering,” “The Brownsville Raid” and the Company’s Broadway production of “The River Niger.” His films include “Stir Crazy,” “Serpico,” “The River Niger,” “Malcolm X” and Showtime’s “The Wishing Tree.” He has won a “HENRY” (Excellence inRegional Theater) for Best Supporting Actor in “Gem of the Ocean” by August Wilson and an Audelco Award for Best Supporting Actor in “Seven Guitars” by August Wilson at Signature Theater. His TV credits include “Roots: The Next Generation” and many NYC-based police dramas. He co-founded the Alumni of the Negro Ensemble Company.

Theater 80 St. Marks became the home theater of The Negro Ensemble, Inc. (NEC) in 2016 and all of the company’s 50th Anniversary mainstage productions are being presented there. The season began December 4-11, 2016 with a revival of NEC’s very first production, “Day of Absence” (1966) by Douglas Turner Ward. The company returned May 24 to June 10 with “Daughters of the Mock” by Judi Ann Mason (original production March 3, 1976), directed by Denise Dowse.

NEC’s first plays were produced at St. Mark’s Playhouse, which was one flight up over a the old movie house at Second Avenue and St. Marks Place, a stone’s throw from Theatre 80 St. Marks. Today the old St. Marks Playhouse building at 133 Second Avenue has shops and restaurants on the ground floor and condominiums on the upper levels. Lorcan Otway, owner of Theater 80, beams that he is “proud and honored to host and welcome back the The Negro Ensemble Company, Inc. to the street upon which they changed the face of New York Theater.”

NEC’s awards include a Pulitzer Prize (1982, “A Soldier’s Play”), two Tony Awards, eleven Obies and many more. Its legacy reads like a Who’s Who of America’s Black theater artists. In 2009, Signature Theatre presented a season of readings of various plays from the NEC canon, with Douglas Turner Ward as curator and Ruben Santiago-Hudson as associated artist.

Prior to the 1960s, there were virtually no outlets for the wealth of black theatrical talent in America. In 1965, Playwright Douglas Turner Ward, producer/actor Robert Hooks, and theater manager Gerald Krone founded The Negro Ensemble Company, Inc. (NEC). The River Niger by Joe Walker, originally produced at, St. Marks Playhouse (NEC’s home theatre), moved to Broadway and was awarded 1973 Obie Awards for Distinguished Performance by Douglas Turner Ward; Best American Play, Joseph A. Walker, and Distinguished Performance by Roxie Roker. Other works include Peter Weiss’ “Song of the Lucitanian Bogey” (1967), Lonnie Elder’s “Ceremonies in Dark Old Men” (1969) and Charles Fuller’s “Zooman and the Sign” (1980). In 1981, NEC mounted “A Soldier’s Play” by Charles Fuller, which won the Pulitzer Prize. A film version, “A Soldier’s Story,” was released in 1984 and nominated for three Academy Awards. NEC has produced more than two hundred new plays and provided a theatrical home for more than four thousand cast and crew members. Among its ranks have been some of the best black actors in television and film, including Louis Gossett Jr., Sherman Hemsley, Denise Nichols, Esther Rolle, Adolph Caesar, Laurence Fishburne, Glynn Turman, Reuben Santiago-Hudson, S. Epatha Merkerson, and Phylicia Rashad; playwrights include Steve Carter (intentionally lower case), Samm-Art Williams, Leslie Lee. NEC continues to be a constant source and sustenance for black actors, directors, and writers as they have worked to break down walls of racial prejudice.

In July, the company presented the 2017 edition of its NEC Alumni Summer Showcase, “The Cost” by Aquaila Shene Barnes, directed by Barbara Montgomery, in Summer Shares at La MaMa. On July 31, the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, NC conferred an award on The Negro Ensemble Inc. for 50 years of excellence in theater. The honor was accepted for the company by its current Artistic Director, Charles Weldon.

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