STAGE VIEWS: Mama, I Want to Sing's Vy Higginsen (Producer Mom) and Ahmaya Knoelle Higginson (Actress Daughter)

News   STAGE VIEWS: Mama, I Want to Sing's Vy Higginsen (Producer Mom) and Ahmaya Knoelle Higginson (Actress Daughter)'s series features brief chats with actors commenting on their recent theatregoing experiences, what productions they are looking forward to and more. Here, via e-mail, we hear from Vy Higginsen and Ahmaya Knoelle Higginson. Vy is the creator of Mama, I Want to Sing: The Next Generation (she also appears in the show as The Narrator); Ahmaya Knoelle stars in Mama (playing the role of her own real-life aunt, recording artist Doris Troy, of "Just One Look" fame).

Vy Higginsen and Knoelle Higginson
Vy Higginsen and Knoelle Higginson

What show recently impressed you?
Vy: I loved The Mountaintop. It brought me back . . . those days and nights. It brought back my feelings for Martin Luther King, Jr. Plus, I believe in angels . . . Angela Bassett proved once again that she is truly a great actress. I also loved Anything Goes. The set, costumes, lighting, the dancing and the music of Cole Porter . . . Right up my alley. I'm old-school.

Ahmaya Knoelle: The powerful ending of The Mountaintop also impressed me. And, I loved the "Brotherhood of Man" choreography in How to Succeed. It's one of the few times when an audience got up on their feet in the middle of a show for the choreography!

What production are you most excited to see?
Vy: I am looking forward to Evita and Once. I love "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina," and am looking forward to hearing Elena Roger sing that song. And, I like little romantic musicals that make me cry, so Once . . .

Ahmaya Knoelle: Evita — for the direction by Michael Grandage and the choreography by Rob Ashford. We hear that Roger is better than great, and [Ricky] Martin will be surprising as Che. I'm also looking forward to The Best Man with the star-studded cast. James Earl Jones and Angela Lansbury and Candice Bergen, and . . . Wow!

What play/musical would you most like to revive on Broadway, and which role would you want to play?
Vy: I am not a singer, so forget musicals. I would like to play the archetypal mom in Gem of the Ocean by August Wilson. I co-produced the original production of Joe Turner's Come and Gone on Broadway, and love the way August Wilson wrote about all the different colors and shades of Black people. Ahmaya Knoelle: I would love to see a Black vs. Puerto Rican version of West Side Story with fabulous choreography and a soul twist to the arrangement of the music. I could play Maria — my voice range would be perfect, and I'd bring some new and different colors and shades to that role.

What are your current/upcoming projects?
Vy: I am the producer of Mama, I Want to Sing: The Next Generation, which reopens on Feb. 25 for a long run at the Dempsey Theater. I am also the Narrator in that show. I will be involved in the movie version of "Gospel For Teens" (Universal Pictures), and I am writing a book about my experiences as a Black woman in the music and theatre industry. Just to name a few.

Ahmaya Knoelle: I love playing the lead role of my auntie, the Soul singer, Doris Troy, in Mama, I Want to Sing: The Next Generation. We ran last year from April though December. People were laughing and crying and on their feet at every performance. We will now be playing into the summer of 2012; then, we'll go on tour in Europe. In late April, we will be adding a second production in repertoire at The Dempsey, Sing, Harlem, Sing, which is a re-creation of the moods and music in Harlem culture in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It's an old-school, back-in-the day, romantic musical revue. Think Smokey Joe's Cafe, from a Motown perspective.


Vy Higginsen is an award-winning author, publisher, playwright, media personality and philanthropist. She co-wrote, produced and directed the classic Gospel musical, Mama, I Want To Sing and created Gospel For Teens, a music program that was profiled on “60 Minutes” last year.

Vy's daughter, Ahmaya Knoelle Higginson, grew up backstage and on tour across the US, Japan and Europe with Mama, I Want to Sing. She stars in the revival of the musical, Mama, I Want to Sing: The Next Generation, which resumes performances at The Dempsey Theater (127 W. 127 St. in Harlem) Feb. 25. She is also the co-choir director for Gospel For Teens, members of which also appear in the musical.

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