Tim Acito's Brewster Place Musical Begins World Premiere in Atlanta Sept. 5

News   Tim Acito's Brewster Place Musical Begins World Premiere in Atlanta Sept. 5
The Women of Brewster Place, the musical snapshot of a tight-knit community in a 1970s housing project, comes to vivid life starting Sept. 5 at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre.
Eleasha Gamble, Terry Burrell and Cheryl Alexander in The Women of Brewster Place.
Eleasha Gamble, Terry Burrell and Cheryl Alexander in The Women of Brewster Place. Photo by Alliance Theatre

The Tony Award-honored resident theatre is giving the show by composer-lyricist-librettist Tim Acito (Zanna, Don't!) its world premiere.

Like the musical The Color Purple, which started at Alliance, this new American musical offers a feast for African-American actresses. The drama of seven women features Cheryl Alexander as Sophie, Terry Burrell as Mrs. Browne, Suzzanne Douglas as Tee, Tina Fabrique as Mattie, Harriett D. Foy as Lorraine, Eleasha Gamble as Wanda, Marva Hicks as Etta Mae, Monique L. Midgette as Kiswana, Tijuana T. Ricks as Cora Lee and Shelley Thomas as Lucielia.

This R&B-kissed, gospel-infused reworking of the novel by Gloria Naylor is directed by Molly Smith, whose Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., is producing the show in partnership with Alliance.

Opening night is Sept. 12 in Atlanta. Performances continue to Sept. 30. Arena will host the show later in the season.

* According to Alliance, "The Women of Brewster Place recalls the rich emotional experience of the Alliance's world premiere — and now Broadway hit – The Color Purple. Based on Gloria Naylor's beloved and award-winning novel, The Women of Brewster Place explores the lives of seven passionate, loving, heartbreaking and ultimately inspiring African-American women living in an urban housing project in the early 1970s. The show tells their stories through gospel, soul, R&B and old school funk."

Acito is also the co-orchestrator and vocal arranger of The Women of Brewster Place.

The creative team also includes Kenneth L. Roberson (choreographer), Anne Patterson (set design), Paul Tazewell (costume design), Darren W. McCroom (lighting design), Garth Hemphill (sound design), William Foster McDaniel (musical director/co-orchestrator/conductor), Adam Larsen (projection designer), Susan R. White (production stage manager) and Celise Kalke (dramaturg).

Cheryl Alexander's Broadway credits include Caroline, or Change; It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues; Once On This Island; Sophisticated Ladies; Dreamgirls (original cast).

Terry Burrell's credits include Roundabout Theatre's The Threepenny Opera at Studio 54, plus Broadway's Thoroughly Modern Mille, Swinging on a Star, Into the Woods, Dreamgirls, Honky Tonk Nights and Eubie. She played Julie in Show Boat in London's West End.

Suzzanne Douglas appeared in Arena Stage's Hallelujah, Baby!, for which she was Helen Hayes Award-nominated. Her credits include Wit; Jar the Floor; Night in Tunisia; Lady Day; Agnes of God; Sophisticated Ladies; The Threepenny Opera; Into the Woods; It's a Grand Night; Drowning Crow; Some Men; Ruddigore; Gypsy; Cabaret and more, plus the films "School of Rock," "Tap," "How Stella Got Her Groove Back," "Jason's Lyric" and more.

Tina Fabrique appeared at the Alliance as Mother Shaw in Crowns and returns here from her successful tour of Ella, the popular regional musical about Ella Fitzgerald, for which she won the Carbonell Award. Her Broadway credits include Ragtime; Dessa Rose; Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk; How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and more.

Harriet D. Foy appeared in Broadway's Mamma Mia!, Once on This Island, Off-Broadway's Lone Star Love, Slut, Crowns (Audelco Award), Dinah Was and Reunion, Arena Stage's Polk County (Helen Hayes nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Musical); Ford's Theatre's Reunion (Helen Hayes nomination for Outstanding Supporting Performer); and Thunder Knocking on the Door (Alabama Shakespeare Festival).

Eleasha Gamble's credits include Off-Broadway's Under the Bridge, plus Hair (Perseverance Theatre); Meet John Doe (Ford's Theatre); Into the Woods (Signature Theatre); My Fair Lady, Urinetown, Follies, Grand Hotel, Gospel According to Fishman, Christmas Carol Rag, The Rink, Company (Round House Theatre); Once on This Island (Helen Hayes nomination, Olney Theatre); Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, West Side Story (Toby's Dinner Theatre); and Ragtime (Helen Hayes nomination).

Marva Hicks recently appeared in Cuttin' Up at the Alliance Theatre and in the world premiere at Arena Stage. Broadway credits include Caroline, or Change; The Lion King; Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music. Off-Broadway, she appeared in Caroline, or Change (The Public Theater); Thunder Knocking on the Door (Minetta Lane). Regionally, she acted in Thunder Knocking on the Door (Arena Stage, Helen Hayes Award), It's Better With a Band (Prince Music Theater), Elliot Ness in Cleveland (Cleveland Playhouse), and Twist (Walnut Street Theatre).

Monique Midgette completed a reading of the new musical Red Eye of Love, directed by Ted Sperling, as well as the Sundance workshop of Brewster Place and Cabaret at Arena Stage. Her Broadway credits include the original productions of The Civil War, Marie Christine, House of Flowers and Seussical the Musical.

Tijuana T. Ricks has an MFA from Yale School of Drama. Her credits include Dance the Holy Ghost: A Memory Play; The Last of the Chatterbox Wolves; Banditos; Rough Magic; Breath, Boom.

Shelley Thomas originated the role of Lucielia Turner in the workshops of The Women of Brewster Place. She most recently played the role of Micaela in the world premiere of Carmen, A New Musical at the La Jolla Playhouse, directed by Franco Dragone. On Broadway she appeared in the roles of Brooklyn, Paradice and Faith in Brooklyn. Off-Broadway, she was Kate in Zanna, Don't! (also on the cast album).

Alliance Theatre's home is at Woodruff Arts Center, at the corner of Peachtree St. and 15th Street, in Atlanta, GA. For more information visit www.alliancetheatre.org.

The women of <i>The Women of Brewster Place</i>.
The women of The Women of Brewster Place. Photo by Alliance Theatre
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