Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death Revived for Free Summer Park Performances

News   Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death Revived for Free Summer Park Performances
The Classical Theatre of Harlem will offer free performances of Melvin Van Peebles' Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death in parks across New York City this summer.

Performances begin July 25-26 in Von King Park (Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn), to be followed by July 29-Aug. 2 in Marcus Garvey Park (Harlem, Madison Avenue and 123rd Street), Aug. 8-9 in East River Park (Manhattan, Lower East Side) and Aug. 15-16 in St. Mary's Park (the Bronx, East 143rd Street). All performances are free and open to the public.

Classical Theatre of Harlem artistic director Alfred Preisser stages the production that returns to New York following a national tour. "This play couldn't be more timely," Preisser said in a statement. "The Sean Bell shooting incident that recently tore the city apart is distressingly similar to the centerpiece of Ain't. Many of the problems discussed in the show are still very much a part of daily life in New York."

The cast will include Charles Browning, Andrea Cosley, Cherrye Davis, Keith Jamal Downing, Tracy Jack, Kimberly Dalton Mitchell, Taharaqua Patterson, Libya Pugh, James Singletary, Chazz Reuben, Willie Teacher, and Reji Woods.

Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death is described as "a gutsy, lusty narrative of Black street life that explores every aspect of ghetto life. Peopled by junkies, pimps, drag queens, crooked cops, lovers, and dreamers." Van Peebles penned book, music and lyrics for the work that incorporates poetic lyrics fused with spoken word and rap.

The Harlem theatre company previously mounted a revival of the musical Off-Broadway in 2004. The 1971 Broadway bow of Ain't Supposed to Die earned Tony nominations for Best Musical, Best Director of a Musical, Best Book, Best Score, Scenic Designer, Lighting Designer and Featured Actress in a Musical.

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