Long-Running Ain't Supposed to Die Succumbs Off-Broadway June 17

News   Long-Running Ain't Supposed to Die Succumbs Off-Broadway June 17
Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death, the rarely seen 1971 black musical by Melvin Van Peebles, will end its run at the nightclub T New York on June 17.

The show began performces back on April 7, playing on Friday and Saturday nights. This was the second life for this particular revival. The show was first mounted at the Classical Theatre of Harlem's 2004-05 season. It began its run on Sept. 29, 2004 and ended a praised, extended run on Nov. 21.

The production later won seven Audelco Awards in 2005.

The nightclub T cast includes Kimberlee, Mo Brown, Jordan Brown, Neil Dawson, Tracy Jack, Keith Arthur Bolding, April McCants, John Andrew Morrison, Taharaq Patterson, Charles Rueben, Chudney Sykes, Willie Teacher, James Tolbert, Glenn Turner, Robyn Landiss Walker and Althea Vyfius. Many also appeared in the Harlem staging.

Natural Death premiered on Broadway on Oct. 8, 1971, and went on to a 325-performance run, first at the Barrymore Theatre, then, after a 10 month break, at the Ambassador. Van Peebles—best known as the filmmaker behind the trailblazing early '70s films "Watermelon Man" and "Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song"—authored the score and book. Gilbert Moses directed a large cast which included Bill Duke, Arthur French, Albert Hall, Garrett Morris, Carl Gordon, Beatrice Wind and Lauren James.

The show received Tony nominations for Best Musical, Best Director of a Musical, Best Book, Best Score, Scenic Designer, Lighting Designer and Featured Actress in a Musical (Wind). It took home no awards. The work is a loosely-associated group of 19 songs, all having to do with the bitter African-American experience in the U.S. While some numbers expressed optimistic sentiments, most were openly angry at blacks' treatment in white society. The score was noted for being more poetic than melodic, with the music serving an almost incidental purpose, and songs more spoken than sung by the actors. Among the numbers were "Just Don't Make No Sense" and "Put a Curse on You."

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