Billy Porter’s Ghetto Superstar Musical to Play Public

News   Billy Porter’s Ghetto Superstar Musical to Play Public
Singer-actor-writer Billy Porter has penned a new musical, Ghetto Superstar, which will fill the vacant final slot in the upcoming season at The Public Theater in downtown New York City.
Billy Porter
Billy Porter

Porter is an artist in residence at the Public and has performed numerous times at Joe's Pub, the intimate cabaret space that works in conjunction with the Public's theatrical programming.

Announced during the Public's "Producer's Perspective" on Oct. 4, Porter explained that the piece comprises 70 percent original music, which he composed, mixed with various other forms of songs appropriate to the show's feel. Ghetto Superstar is based on Porter's experience as a gay black artist. Inspired by real-life stories of other gay black men — including James Baldwin and Donnie Hathaway — Porter has used his own life to give the piece its shape and direction.

According to a press release, the piece "is a spiritual, sexual, and musical odyssey in which the teachings of the Pentecostal church collide with the gospel according to Dreamgirls."

The 2004 - 2005 season of work at the Public has been deemed the "Power Plays" and will feature an assortment of characters and themes dealing with power and its effects on both individuals and society. The power of this piece, Porter said, is that "musical theatre is a weapon" that can be used to open people's eyes and ears. Porter plans to use his still-developing musical as a tool to express some of his feelings about the world.

Porter has performed on Broadway (Five Guys Named Moe, Grease!, Miss Saigon), Off-Broadway (The Merchant of Venice, Radiant Baby), and at regional theatres and concert halls across the country. He also released a CD, Untitled, on A & M Records. In addition to working on Ghetto Superstar, Porter is preparing to record a second CD, entitled LIVE from Joe's Pub — At the Corner of Broadway & Soul. Ghetto Superstar will play the Public in February - March 2005 and will be directed by Brad Rouse. The musical is being presented in association with City Theatre, Pittsburgh.

Bill Bragin, director of Joe's Pub, also announced that Nancy Sinatra will be performing at the venue in the coming months in support of her yet-to-be released new album. The Public's season of "Power Plays" kicked off Sept. 21 with a Peter DuBois production of Shakespeare's Richard III, starring Peter Dinklage.

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