TALKS: Laiona Michelle is Nanna in Amazing Grace on Broadway

Laiona Michelle Headshot

Laiona Michelle

Amazing Grace, the new Broadway musical currently playing at the Nederlander Theater is a biomusical about John Newton and the story behind the famous Christian hymn published in 1779. The tale also features fictitious characters who add to the historical drama, such as Nanna. Talented Broadway newcomer Laiona Michelle plays Nanna, a vital character who…. well, let’s just have Laiona Michelle tell you. AIC writer Halle Morse caught up with Laiona to learn all about Nanna and her journey to Broadway.

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SPOTLIGHT: The Lion King Breaks Records

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus/Disney

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus/Disney
Joan Marcus/Disney
“Simba” and ensemble singing “He Lives In You” from the “Lion King” national tour.

By now, we all know how incredible a show The Lion King has become. If you have never seen it, thats a problem. Its not hard to believe that the show is approaching its 15th year on broadway, and has surpassed The Phantom of the Opera as the highest-grossing Broadway show in history.

Moreover, recently we’ve learned that The Lion King has topped 1-billion dollars in ticket sales from its North American tours.

 

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TONY TUESDAY: BD Wong

Photo Credit: www.cmc.edu

Photo Credit: www.cmc.edu

BD Wong is legendary for the doors he has opened for actors of color, doors that crossover from the stage to both film and television. More specifically he is one of a very small group of Asian actors to receive a Tony Award.

Bradley Darryl Wong is of Chinese descent and was born in San Francisco, California. He attended Lincoln High school and then went to college at San Francisco State University. Wong is best known for his work on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit as FBI psychiatrist Dr. George Huang. Yet, his career on stage began long before that. Wong gained attention and garnered a Tony Award for his Broadway debut in M. Butterfly opposite John Lithgow.

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SPOTLIGHT: The Scottsboro Boys makes it’s way to…

FREED SCOTTSBORO BOYS

Photo Credit: Huffington Post

Los Angeles! The genius of this story was bought to Broadway in 2010 and has now opened at the Ahmanson Theatre. Three years after its original Broadway debut, this musical continues to fulfill the purpose of theatre, to educate and entertain.

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NEWS: Lindsay Mendez is Wicked’s newest Elphaba

Photo Credit: Stage Door Dish

Photo Credit: Stage Door Dish

Lindsay Mendez joined the cast of Wicked (Broadway’s #1 show for an unprecedented nine consecutive years)!

Growing up in southern California Lindsay trained at an Arts High School specifically for musical theatre. Soon after, she moved to New York City with Broadway on her mind and has lived there ever since.

Mendez made her Broadway debut playing Jan in Grease. The big-belting singer went on to The Marvelous Wonderettes before landing a role in Sherie Rene Scott’s Everyday Rapture, which she performed both off and on Broadway. After a featured part in the 2011 revival of Godspell, Mendez made her leading lady debut in off-Broadway’s Dogfight.

Lindsay can be heard in New York City singing jazz and contemporary music with her collaborator, pianist Marco Paguia. On March 29th, 2013, they made their Lincoln Center debut with the American Songbook series in the Kaplan Penthouse. Their debut album, This Time, will be available digitally and at the Gershwin Theatre on May 28; wider distribution will be available starting July 21st.

Keep reading for video of Lindsay singing The Wizard and I!

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EVENTS: If it Only Even Runs a Minute (Tonight)!

If-It-OnlyLooking for something to do tonight? Arts in Color has got you covered! Take a trip downtown to Le Poisson Rouge for If It Only Even Runs A Minute 11. Tonight marks the eleventh edition of the Bistro Award-winning series of rare songs, behind-the-scenes tales, and inspiring photos from Broadway musicals that may not have been fully appreciated the first time around.

The latest edition includes the following artists of color: André DeShields (The Wiz, The Full Monty), Brandon Victor Dixon (Motown, The Scottsboro Boys), Kelvin Moon Loh (American Idiot, Here Lies Love), and Freida Williams (Starmites, Jesus Christ Superstar) amongst other great talents. You can expect performances, as well as stories from original cast members and writers of several of the featured shows. We have been to an earlier edition of the series and can guarantee that you won’t be disappointed. Plus-how often do you get to see all of these amazing performers (while getting a history lesson) for $15! The show is an invaluable opportunity musical theatre lovers old and new.

What’s even cooler is that the co creator/producer of the series is an Arts in Color fanKevin Michael Murphy!

Keep reading for info on Kevin and how you can secure tickets to the show tonight!

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SPOTLIGHT: Marie’s Crisis

Broadway lovers, are you sick of karaoke bars and fighting for your turn to sing “Take Me or Leave Me” from Rent amidst a bunch 0f  Billy Joel and Journey wannabes?  Well, there’s a place for you.  Broadway sing-along bar Marie’s Crisis will allow you to let out that suppressed belt you have inside.

Photo Credit: Literary Manhattan

Photo Credit: Literary Manhattan

This bar has everything from “it’s your moment to shine” solos and “come on don’t be shy” group songs.  The piano players are amazingly talented and know the music to most Broadway musicals.  Even Arts in Color was surprised by their diverse repertoire.

One YELP reviewer writes, “The piano player tickled the ivories all night long with favorites from The Sound of Music, Annie, Chicago, West Side Story and all the other classics. Every person in that bar was having a great time- not one single person without a big goofy grin on their face.”

Marie’s Crisis is located at 59 Grove St (between Bleecker St & S 7th Ave).  Check it out and sing your little heart out!

Watch this video and get a flavor for what Marie’s Crisis is all about!

Have another spot in the city you like to frequent?? Let us know by leaving a comment (via the link under the title)!

4/8/13: Week in Review

Get caught up on some of the top stories about artists of color!

4/6

  • Berry Gordy and Motown: The Musical Host “Motown Family Night” on Broadway-Theatermania
  • Producers Mike Medavoy and Bobby Geisler Developing Updated PORGY AND BESS Film-Broadwayworld.com

4/5

Deborah Cox: Photo Credit: Unknown

 

  • Jekyll & Hyde, Starring Deborah Cox, Arrives on Broadway April 5-Playbill
  • Heather Headley, Will Young and More to Perform at This Year’s Olivier Awards-Playbill

4/4

  • Kinky Boots, Starring Billy Porter and Stark Sands, Opens on Broadway April 4-Playbill
  • Bill T. Jones’ Super Fly Musical Enlists Rick Elice; Summer Workshop Planned-Playbill 

4/3

  • O’Neill Music Theater Conference Will Nurture New Musicals Goddess by Mkhululi MabijaPlaybill
  • Photo Credit: Vulture-Christopher Bonanos

    Photo Credit: Vulture-Christopher Bonanos

    Chita Rivera to Receive 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award from Boston Theater Critics Association, 5/13-BroadwayWorld

  • Alicia Hall Moran and Nathaniel Stampley to Star in National Tour of Porgy and Bess-Playbill Continue reading

RESOURCE: ‘Bway for Broke People’

BwayforBrokePplHappy Friday from Arts in Color! Often we are asked ‘where can I find the cheapest tickets to Broadway shows?’

If you are not familiar with the New York theater scene words like rush and lottery probably sound like gibberish. On the other hand, if you are a regular show goer you might be searching for a tool that will give you the most current information regarding rush and lottery policies. So…whether you are seasoned or more of a novice we will provide you with a great resource to meet your show going, cheap ticket needs! Broadway for Broke People!  Take a look at the video (below) for an idea of how the site works and what it provides.

For those of you who are newer to the game, click the continue reading link (below the video) for quick definitions of what words like, rush and lottery mean and how they can get you a cheap ticket to the show you desire!

How else do you get cheap tickets? Let us know by leaving a comment!

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4/1/13: Week in Review

Get caught up on some of the top stories from last week!

 3/30
  • The Trip to the Bountiful Begins Previews on Broadway Tonight-BroadwayWorld

3/29

  • Godspell‘s Celisse Henderson Will Join Mamma Mia!‘s Blake Whyte for “More Like Myself” Album Release Concert-Playbill

    Lincoln Center Theater to Kick Off LCT3 Season with Ayad Akhtar's Disgraced

    Ayad Akhtar/Photo Credit: BroadwayWorld

  • Audra McDonald Will Be Part of Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Classic Conversations Series-Playbill
  • Final Title of La Jolla Playhouse’s 2013-14 Season to be The Who & The What, by Disgraced‘s Ayad AkhtarPlaybill

3/28

3/27

  • Playbill Video Debuts New Series “Hot Off the Ivories,” (created Joey Contreras) Collection of Contemporary Musical Theatre Songs-Playbill

Young Jean Lee/Photo Credit: Ruby Washington/The New York Times

  • Young Jean Lee‘s We’re Gonna Die Will Play Lincoln Center Theater Encore Run-Playbill
  • Casting Complete for Guthrie Theater Production of Clybourne ParkPlaybill
  • Casting Announced for Celebration Theatre’s Workshop of Kissing ChePlaybill
  • A Time to Kill, the Race-Based Court Drama, Aiming for Broadway Bow in October-Playbill

3/26

3/25

  • Rush Ticket Policy Announced for Broadway Revival of PippinPlaybill

    LaChanze/Photo Credit: Unknown

  • Filles de Joie Cabaret, With Rona Figueroa, Plays Soho House NY March 25- Playbill
  • LaChanze, Set for 2013 Playwrights Gala Heroines, Honoring Women Writers-Playbill

Industry News

  • The New Producers on the Block-Theatremania
  • TonyAwards.com Puts a “Spotlight On” This Year’s Contenders-Theatermania

  • O’Neill Center’s Cabaret Conference Accepting Applications; Donna McKechnie on Faculty-Playbill
  • Olivier Awards Overhaul Judging Process; Producers and Theatre Owners to Vote in Addition to Panel-Playbill
  • Music Circus Season to Feature Wizard of Oz, Show Boat, Sugar, Chicago and More-Playbill
  • Broadcast Dates Announced for 86th and 87th Academy Awards-Playbill
  • FCC’s Plans to Move Cordless Microphone Frequencies Could Disrupt Broadway Airwaves-BroadwayWorld

Corrections?? Feel free to send us a line via our Contact Page.

THOUGHTS: Matilda

Arts in Color was fortunate enough to get a ticket to Matilda on Tuesday night. I went and all I can say is….RUN (don’t walk) to see this brilliant production. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I won’t indulge too much (sorry to those looking for more detail-just go and see for yourselves)!

Every element of the show came together to tell a brilliant, imaginative, and cohesive story. The choreography was inventive and modern. However, unlike other shows that have attempted to use less ‘traditional’ choreography, none of the movement felt out of place. Choreographer, Peter Darling said that he started to feel that, ‘ the base idea for the whole physicality should be twitching and fidgeting because kids never really stand still.’ The set moved seamlessly in bright prime colors and surprised us (in its use) in various parts of the show. Costumes did not dissapoint either-from the gaudy outfits of the Wormwoods, to the muted school uniforms of the kids at Ms. Trunchbull’s prison ::clears throat:: I mean-school . In fact this was one of the first shows I’d ever seen with set and costume design done by the same person (Rob Howell)! What an amazing undertaking and a job well done.

The cast was great as well, but the standouts were…the KIDS! Honestly, I just kept thinking to myself,” I can’t believe they’re getting all this choreo! Wait-could I get this choreo??” Haha. Seriously, adult and child alike in this production were wonderful.

Personally, I feel grateful to have been able to see this piece of musical theatre. It’s unlike anything I have seen recently sooo…I highly suggest it! I’m thinking this show might do well at the Tony’s (plus it’s already selling at 98% capacity) so if you’re in the city and can afford it, (or can wake up ridiculously early) get your ticket now. You won’t be disappointed. I’m thinking of going back myself! I’d love the chance to see another one of the four Matilda’s give it a try. Why not?!

Getting Tix:

If you are a student, you don’t have to break the bank (though it would be money well spent) as there are rush tickets for $27. Only tip-get there early! One of our gracious Arts in Colors readers braved the early morning hours to get tickets and said that there were people there as early as 6:15am! More details on tickets, theatre location, etc can be found here.

Looking for more info on the show or curious about the artists of color amongst the cast?? Keep readin’ for headshots, bios, and a quick video (including a peek at one of my favorite numbers)!

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COOL FIND: An Abbreviated History of Black Women on Bway

Hey Everyone! I stumbled on this great quick read via For Harriet  and had to share it with you all. Keep in mind the title is an abbreviated history, so you won’t be getting all of the faces/names you know and love, but its a great sample!

For Harriet is, “a blog community for women of African ancestry that aspires to educate, inspire and entertain.” The team was gracious enough to let us post a sneak peek of the full article, but make sure to read the rest of it via the link at the end of this post!

An Abbreviated History of Black Women on Broadway

Posted by Alexis Jackson

Playwright Katori Hall

Being featured on New York’s famous Broadway Theaters is a great and difficult accomplishment for any actor, musician, playwright or director. Over the years many black women have worked hard to achieve the highest success in commercial theater by being featured on Broadway, yet their success is little know and little celebrated. Black women have faced and are still facing challenges when it comes to landing on Broadway, but many women have overcome these obstacles to see their names in light on Broadway.

The legacy of success of black women in Broadway started with Ethel Waters in 1927. She became the first black woman to appear on Broadway in the production of Africana. In 1949 she became the second African American woman, after Hattie McDaniel to be nominated for an Academy Award for the film Pinky. Outside of acting, Waters is known for her blues, jazz and gospel singing. Waters broke the color barrier time and time again becoming the first black woman to perform on television, and to be heard on the radio.

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