PHOTO EXCLUSIVE: Saycon Sengbloh Spans the Decades in Style With These Backstage Pics from New Musical Stagger Lee
Directed by Patricia McGregor with book and lyrics by Power, who collaborated with Ellington on music, Stagger Lee ran through Feb. 15. Camille A. Brown choreographed.
The show's score spans the breadth of 20th century African-American music, from the blues to hip hop. According to DTC, "Stagger Lee, which features a 21-person cast, spans the 20th century, tracing mythical characters in their quest to achieve the American Dream. Billy is a dreamer and an optimist. He moves North with his wife Delilah in search of a better home to raise his young family. Johnny, Delilah's brother, and his girl Frankie also dream of a bright future. Stagger Lee embodies the challenges and struggles these two couples face along the way. Told with music that crosses decades and locations, Stagger Lee explores deep-seated themes of racism and the raw power of the human spirit."
The cast featured Cedric Neal (After Midnight, Porgy and Bess) as Johnny, J. Bernard Calloway (Motown, All The Way) as Stagger Lee, Brandon Gill as Johnny, Tiffany Mann as Delilah, Saycon Sengbloh (Fela, Wicked) as Frankie and Rickey Tripp as Long Lost John.
Completing the cast were Major Attaway, Kristen Bond, Tyrone Davis Jr., Brierley Resident Acting Company member Hassan El-Amin, Babakayode Ipayem M. Denise Lee, Traci Elaine Lee, Mayte Natalio, Malaiyka Reid, Devin L. Roberts, Jay Staten, Akron Watson, Malakai Nance Moka, Sophia Teyolia, Ross Adkins, Micah Oliver and Chris Adkins.
"It's a challenge to have the kind of diversity we have in America and try to create one American mythology. So with Stagger Lee, I started to think about these old folk tales. Frankie and Johnny is about a woman who found out her man was cheating on her and killed him. Long Lost John is a folk tale about this convict who broke out of a chain gang and spent years on the run. And Stagger Lee comes from a story about a guy named Lee Stag Shelton, and he was gambling with another guy named Billy Lyons. They got into an argument about what the dice said and Billy knocked off Lee Stag Shelton's hat, and Lee Stag Shelton shot him," Power said in a statement. "All of these folk tales are woven through the play to tell a story that is ultimately about the search for the American Dream."
The creative team included scenic designer John Arnone, costume designer Dede M. Ayite, orchestrators Daryl Waters and Justin Ellington, lighting designer Alan C. Edwards, sound designer Peter McBoyle, wig designer Cookie Jordan, fight director Jeff Colangelo and associate choreographer Juel D. Lane.