Jerry Dixon Pilots Barnstormer in Alabama

PlayBlog   Jerry Dixon Pilots Barnstormer in Alabama
Amelia Earhart may have crashed and burned in assorted films and theatrical endeavors during 2009, but her precursor — the first African-American aviatrix, Bessie Coleman — continues on course and will set down Jan. 28-31 at the Red Mountain Theatre in Birmingham, AL. It will be the first production accorded Barnstormer, a musical, since its initial staged reading at the Lark Theatre Company in Manhattan.

Douglas J. Cohen (No Way to Treat a Lady, The Opposite of Sex) did the music, and Cheryl L. Davis (The Color of Justice) wrote the book and lyrics. At the controls for the crucial is lift-off is Broadway actor-turning-director Jerry Dixon.

"The show is about legacy," says Dixon, "about a heroine who achieves her dreams and then realizes that's not enough — that she has to leave something behind. The legacy of Bessie Coleman is that she began an air school specifically for black flyers."

Shronda Major, one of eight Birmingham natives in the ten-member cast, has the central role. "She's green, green, green — and fantastic!" exclaimed Dixon, "[and] came highly recommended by Keith Cromwell, artistic director at the Red Mountain. When you do regional shows, you realize they have a feeling for the talent around."

The two New York imports — Michael Jean Dozier and Clyde Voce —respectively play Coleman's brother and nephew. The latter became one of the Tuskegee Airmen.

Next for Dixon: he'll direct Michael John LaChiusa's musicalization of Federico Garcia Lorca's 1936 tragedy, The House of Bernarda Alba, at NYU. "I start rehearsals in March, and performances will begin the end of April," he relays.

— Harry Haun

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