Black Fest '97: Andre De Shields Back After Play On!

News   Black Fest '97: Andre De Shields Back After Play On! Veteran actor Andre De Shields has had a year of highs and lows. He starred in the Broadway musical Play On! In the role of Jester, he was nominated for the Drama Desk, Tony and FANY Awards. Before the ceremonies could be held, Play On! was closed. De Shields attended each awards ceremony, heard his name called, but unfortunately walked away empty handed.

Veteran actor Andre De Shields has had a year of highs and lows. He starred in the Broadway musical Play On! In the role of Jester, he was nominated for the Drama Desk, Tony and FANY Awards. Before the ceremonies could be held, Play On! was closed. De Shields attended each awards ceremony, heard his name called, but unfortunately walked away empty handed.

De Shields recently was seen in The Ghost Cafe , for five performances at the National Black Theater Festival in Winston Salem, N.C.

De Shields said, "Every year has its highs and lows. That's what a life in the theater is all about--living is all about. One thing I've learned in my life as an actor and a black man is--the top of one mountain is the bottom of the next. Play On! was a peak, but every time you reach a peak, you're looking into a valley.

"But as the saying goes, 'when one door closes, another one opens.' Immediately after Play On! closed I was offered this reoccurring character on "As The World Turns," of Rev. Calvin Dansby. The Friday before the Tonys I got that gig. This is something that we, in the industry hope and pray for. That an employer calls you and says this job has your name on it. No, we're not asking you to audition. We're asking you to accept the job. That's why we pay our dues. One of the important payoffs, to staying in the industry, as long as we do, is that people recognize the worthiness of your work and instead of asking you to audition, they simply offer you the role. That's what happened in "As The World Turns" and Play On!

Focusing on his present project, at the Festival, The Ghost Cafe, he summarized the storyline: "Several jazz geniuses have died and gone to jazz heaven. Each of them gets an opportunity to come back--view his or her life and correct it. We choose Bessie Smith, Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong. We use these characters as examples of what to do and not do in your life." De Shields Ghost Cafe co-star is Avery Sommers who needs to get comfortable playing opposite De Shields -- she's also been cast as Regina Dansby, his wife in "As The World Turns."

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