NYMF's Mother Divine, With Danielle Lee Greaves, Randy Donaldson, Howie Michael Smith, Begins July 11
By Michael Gioia
Mother Divine: The Musical, inspired by the real-life events of Harlem evangelist Father Divine, begins performances July 11, as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival's (NYMF) Next Link Project, at the PTC Performance Space.
Featuring a book and lyrics by Laurel Klinger Vartabedian and music by Bill Evans, the musical is directed by Adam Hester and choreographed by Randy Davis. Musical direction is by Julianne Merrill.
The cast includes Danielle Lee Greaves (Hairspray, Rent), Randy Donaldson (Wonderful Town, Annie Get Your Gun), Howie Michael Smith (Avenue Q), Allyson Tucker (Ragtime), Erick Carter, Jenavene Hester, Daisy Hobbs, Mike Longo, Ashley Parizek, Rose Pedone and Chris Sams.
Mother Divine, according to press notes, "is inspired by the real life events of a charismatic Depression era Harlem evangelist named Father Divine who, as legend has it, rode around town in a flashy Duesenberg and espoused his own brand of Christian doctrine mixed with capitalism, socialism, mysticism and some wild ideas including the notion that heaven was already on earth, he was God and his followers immortal. After taking an older wife whom he endowed with the title of 'Mother Divine' his preaching hit a supernatural snag when she passed away unexpectedly. Father D then rationalized marrying a much younger woman with the notion that Mother desired a body more fitting of her righteous spirit. Thus he 'reincarnated' Mother Divine as a twenty something blond bombshell whom he presented to his flock as 'Mother in the Second Body.' Here the story takes a comic departure as the first Mother Divine returns to earth and with the help of a bumbling IRS agent is determined on proving that it's never too late for a first wife to get her revenge! Everyone is chasing someone else's secrets in this rollicking romp set to a rousing Gospel-tinged score."
Mother Divine was initially performed in a developmental phase with the Western Carolina Stage Company at FringeNYC. The show was produced this year in Colorado and will be part of a multi-city tour in 2014.
Performances are offered July 11 at 8 PM, July 14 at 4:30 PM, July 17 at 5 PM and 9 PM and July 20 at 9 PM.
NYMF is the flagship program of The National Music Theater Network. Now entering its tenth year, The New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) exists to "revitalize musical theatre culture by discovering and promoting new musical theatre artists, producers and projects; nurturing a vibrant and innovative artistic community; and connecting one of America's greatest art forms with a diverse, contemporary audience."
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