Get ready to groove! Charlene Jean and Franklin Rankin came to Playbill to present a selection of songs from their funk rock musical Bricks for the newest edition of Playbill's Songwriter Series. Presented by Audible Theater, the series is dedicated to spotlighting emerging composers and features a new video every month.
Bricks centers on a young woman blessed with the ability to see the spirits of spaces that flourished before her time. Inheriting the gift from her mother, the musical is described as "a 20-year music tour of retroactive-reparations," reaching from modern-day Brooklyn back to the biblical Jericho. The pair presented three songs, including "Fog," "Jericho," and "Let Me in So I Can Love You."
Check out the latest episode below.
Jean is an up-and-coming playwright whose theatrical footprint also includes Shit in The Blood: A Biomythography of Recipes (co-devised with Bryanna Bradley and Courtney Bryan Devon). They are also the screenwriter behind King Afua. Additionally, Jean is a 2022 MAP Grant Fund awardee, a 2023 New Georges Audrey Resident, a 2023/2024 Creative Capital WILD FUTURES finalist, and a 2023 finalist for the Jonathan Larson Grant, Van Lier New Voices, Richard Rodgers Award, and NYSAF Founders Award. Jean also works as a dramaturg.
Rankin explored improvisational music from a young age, studying at the Harlem School of the Arts. He later graduated from Berklee College of Music with a degree in Jazz Composition, and received his masters in Jazz Studies from NYU. As a professional guitarist and songwriter, Rankin has worked with artists including Nona Hendryx, Azealia Banks, Mwenso and the Shakes, and Rashaad Newsome’s Assembly, and has been featured on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon in the "Battle of the Instant Songwriters.” Rankin leads the pop/soul group Big Stuff and The Franklin Rankin Quartet, which is a jazz/funk collective.
For more information on Bricks and its development, follow along here.
Audible Theater is a proud sponsor of Playbill’s Songwriter Series. Audible Theater makes outstanding performances and powerful storytelling available to millions of people all over the world. As part of this initiative, Audible has produced Girls & Boys with Carey Mulligan, The Half-Life of Marie Curie with Kate Mulgrew, Harry Clarke starring Billy Crudup, and many others at the Minetta Lane Theatre in New York City. Audible was also a co-producer for the Broadway transfer of the Tony Award-nominated Latin History for Morons, written by and starring John Leguizamo; and for the Tony Award-nominated Sea Wall/A Life starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge. Since June 2017, Audible has commissioned 40 playwrights to receive support from its $5 million Emerging Playwrights Fund dedicated to developing innovative English-language works from around the globe and keeping with Audible’s core commitment to elevating listening experiences through powerful performances and extraordinary vocal storytelling.
Sing for Hope harnesses the power of the arts to create a better world. Its creative programs bring hope, healing, and connection to millions of people in hospitals, schools, care facilities, refugee camps, transit hubs, and community spaces worldwide. A non-profit organization founded in New York City in response to the events of 9/11, Sing for Hope partners with hundreds of community-based organizations, mobilizes thousands of artists in creative service, and produces artist-created Sing for Hope Pianos across the U.S. and around the world. The official Cultural Partner of the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, Sing for Hope champions art for all because we believe the arts have an unmatched capacity to uplift, unite, and heal. Learn more at SingForHope.org.