Grammy winner Stephanie Mills and Tony Award winner Lillias White (The Life) will lead the cast of the Karole Foreman-Andrew Chukerman musical, The Princess and the Black-Eyed Pea, in a benefit performance for the Actors' Fund, Sept. 25 at the China Club. James Stovall (Ragtime) directs and co-produces.
Set in two mythical African kingdoms, The Princess and the Black-Eyed Pea loosely follows the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairytale of a princess in disguise put to the test with a pea inserted in her bedding (also the basis for the Mary Rogers musical, Once Upon a Mattress). Karole Foreman wrote the book and lyrics, with composer and co-lyricist Andrew Chukerman.
After recording her first single "I Knew It Was Love," Mills was chosen to play Dorothy in the musical The Wiz, the theatre role for which she is best known. She actually made her Broadway debut at nine in the musical Maggie Flynn with Shirley Jones and Jack Cassidy and has appeared in String, Your Arms Are Too Short To Box With God and Children of Eden. Among her albums are "Never Knew Love Like This Before," "Feel The Fire," and "Whatcha Gonna Do With My Lovin."
White, most recently seen Off-Broadway in Dinah Was, won the 1997 Tony Award, Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award for her performances of Sonja in The Life. Her other Broadway credits include Jonsey in How to Succeed in Business..., Grizabella in Cats (Grizzabella), Asaka in Once on This Island and Effie in Dreamgirls.
Joining Mills and White are Ken Prymus (Cats), Cornelius Bates, Rosalind Brown (Footloose), Terron Brooks, Tracy Nicole Chapman (The Lion King), Dudley Findley, Jr., Mark Ford (Rent), Capathia Jenkins (The Civil War) and Alexis Toomer. Honorary chairpersons for the event will be film star Samuel L. Jackson, LaTonya Richardson, orchestrator Harold Wheeler and his wife, singer actress Hattie Winston.
Tickets are $45 for limited seating, $20 for standing room. For reservations, call (800) 386-3849 ext. 133, 134. For further ticket information on the web, go to http://www.actorsfund.org/tickets/princess.html.
The AMAS Musical Theatre is a nonprofit, multi-racial theatrical organization dedicated to the development of new musicals and new musical talent. Rosetta LeNoire founded the company in 1968.
The nation's "only human service organization for all entertainment professionals," the Actors' Fund of America is best known for providing financial assistance and social services (food, rent, medical expenses) to professionals in need. Given on a night when the show doesn't normally play, an Actors' Fund performance, with all benefits going to the Fund, charges the same box office prices as on other nights and is often well attended by members of the entertainment community.