The Tony Award-winning choreographer of The Wiz is putting his own thumbprint on the revue set in the Golden Age of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, '30s, and '40s. Given the casting of Tony Award-winner Carroll, producers are expected to give the show a listen and look-see for a possible future life.
The Theatre of the Stars production (through July 24) includes Diahann Carroll (who won her Tony for No Strings), Clent Bowers (Broadway's Big, Cats, The Wiz), Paige Price (Broadway's Saturday Night Fever) , Brad Bradley (Broadway's Thou Shalt Not), Ryan Shaw, Vernel Bagneris (who created the revue One Mo' Time), Monica Patton, BJ Crosby (a Tony Award nominee for Smokey Joe's Cafe), Debra Walton (New York and Philadelphia's Cookin' at the Cookery), Jeffry Denman (of the original Producers), Nathaniel Nicco-Annan, Byron Easley, Alexandria Bradley, Kendrick Jones II, Angela Reid, Frances Bradley, Rosa Curry and Stevi Van Meter.
Rosetta Lenoire and Loften Mitchell wrote Bubbling Brown Sugar as a reminder of the rich heritage of Harlem writers, artists and performers. "Starting out in 1970s Harlem where break dancers are flashing their moves, three aging entertainers meet a young couple and invite them to take a trip back in time," according to production notes. "They are transported to a downtown New York speakeasy in the 1920s."
The Tony-nominated musical includes such songs as "Stompin' at the Savoy," "Take The 'A' Train," "Swing Low Sweet Chariot," "Sweet Georgia Brown," "It Don’t Mean A Thing" "Ain't Misbehavin'" and (natch) "Bubbling Brown Sugar!"
Ron Metcalf is musical director. Orchestrations are by Danny Holgate. Designers are Mark Cowburn (sound), John McLain (lighting), Austin K. Sanderson (scenic), Reggie Ray (costume). The musical is presented in conjunction with the opening of the 2004 National Black Arts Festival.
Faison joined the prestigious Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1967 and was a principal dancer with the company for three years. In 1971 he founded the George Faison Universal Dance Experience (featured members included Debbie Allen and the late Gary DeLoatch). In 1975 Faison received a Tony Award for his choreography of The Wiz, becoming the first African-American to win a Tony.
Faison co-authored the dance music for The Wiz, as well as "The Emerald City" and "Tornado" songs with his collaborator of many years, Timothy Graphenreed. He also helped create Apollo, Just Like Magic, Sing, Mahalia, Sing,Heaven and the Homeboy and American Jam Session.
In 1997 he adapted, directed and choreographed the musical King, for President Clinton's inauguration. He directed Purlie in 1998 for the Kennedy Center's inaugural "Words and Music" series. In 1999 he choreographed the musical Tin Pan Alley Rag for Philadelphia's Wilma Theater. That same year he directed For Colored Girls... at Baltimore's Center Stage and the production then ran for six months Off-Broadway. In 2000 he directed African Odyssey, the gala celebration of African Art & Culture at the Kennedy Center.
Diahann Carroll, in 1968, became the first black actress in television history to star in her own series, "Julia" for NBC, which received an Emmy nomination in its first year. In 1989 she was nominated for an Emmy Award for the successful NBC TV series, "A Different World," as Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series. Her TV credits includes "Dynasty" and recently, "Whoopi."
Carroll made her Broadway stage debut starring in Truman Capote's House of Flowers. Richard Rodgers created the Broadway production of No Strings as a starring vehicle for her and she won a Tony Award for her work. Her other Broadway credits include a starring role in the award-winning play Agnes of God. In October 1995 she returned to the stage to star as Norma Desmond in the Toronto premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber's hit musical Sunset Boulevard.
For ticket information, call (404) 817-8700 or visit www.theaterofthestars.com.
For more details on this year's National Black Arts Festival visit www.nbaf.org.