André De Shields, Guy Davis and The Last Five Years Will Find a Home at NJ's Crossroads Theatre

News   André De Shields, Guy Davis and The Last Five Years Will Find a Home at NJ's Crossroads Theatre
The Tony Award-honored Crossroads Theatre Company, the New Jersey regional theatre devoted to African-American works, writers and performers, will present an all-musical season in 2011-12.

Andr Photo by Lia Chang

Tony Award nominee André De Shields will direct the revue Ain't Misbehavin', one of four titles. Jason Robert Brown's two-actor marriage-minded musical, The Last Five Years, will also be revived.

De Shields, a two-time Tony Award nominee (Play On! and The Full Monty), was Drama Desk Award-nominated for his appearance in the original 1978 production of Ain't Misbehavin', which celebrates the work of performer-songwriter Thomas "Fats" Waller.

The musical, conceived by Murray Horwitz and Richard Maltby, Jr., will play Oct. 6-24, at Crossoroads' home in New Brunswick, NJ.

The revue features favorites associated with Waller, including "I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby," "Honeysuckle Rose," "You Feet's Too Big," "Black and Blue," "It's a Sin to Tell a Lie," "Squeeze Me" and "Ain't Misbehavin'."

Crossroads executive director Marshall Jones III said in a statement, "[This] will mark the first time the Tony Award-winning theatre is devoting its entire mainstage season to music, from rousing blues, jazz and swing to contemporary, story-driven musicals." Rick Sordelet will direct Holiday Jubilee 2011, a "family favorite" production that "unifies cultures and communities from across the world in a celebration of the holiday season." Expect Broadway veterans and local talent performing holiday favorites and songs from around the world. It will play Dec. 8-18.

Storyteller and musician Guy Davis, who performed at Crossroads in the 1990s with his parents Ruby Dee and the late Ossie Davis, will return Feb. 16-26, 2012, to star in In Bed with the Blues: The Adventures of Fishy Waters, which he wrote.

According to Crossroads, "Through song and storytelling, Davis recounts the life and adventures of fictional blues man Fishy Waters and his travels through rugged America on a box car."

Crossroads co-founder and artistic advisor Ricardo Khan directs and adapts Fishy Waters for the Crossroads stage. Davis was last seen at Crossroads with his parents Ruby Dee and the late Ossie Davis in the original work, Two Ha Ha's and a Homeboy.

The Last Five Years by composer-lyricist-librettist Jason Robert Brown, will play April 12-22, 2012. The show, inspired by Brown's own rocky first marriage, won the Drama Desk Award for Best Music and Best Lyrics. It tells the story of Jamie, a Jewish writer with a career on the rise, who falls in love with Cathy, an actress of Christian background, whose career has stalled. In the show, they tell their stories separately: She from the end to the beginning, he from the beginning to the end. (They marry in the middle.) Brown won the Tony Award for Best Score for Parade in 1999.

The Genesis Festival of New Plays and Voices will run May 25-27, 2012. It gives voice "to young writers and innovative forms of theatre in a nurturing creative environment." Among plays that began at Genesis are George C. Wolfe's Spunk, Anna Deveare Smith's Dream, Linda Nieves-Powell's Yo Soy Latina and original works by Ntozoke Shange, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis. Professional staged readings take place over the course of the weekend with a reception to follow. Finalists in the festival will be announced in the spring.

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Crossroads Theatre Company was founded in 1978 by Ricardo Khan and L. Kenneth Richardson with the vision that African-American theatre is intended for a broad-based, diverse audience. "As a major force in the development of new ideas and the introduction of formerly marginalized writers, Crossroads produces works that enrich and diversify the representation of African American culture on the American stage." Crossroads has produced more than 40 world premieres and received the Tony Award in 1999 for Outstanding Regional Theatre in the United States.

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