Chris Jackson, Kevin Mambo, Rebecca Naomi Jones and Claybourne Elder to Workshop Venice at the Public

News   Chris Jackson, Kevin Mambo, Rebecca Naomi Jones and Claybourne Elder to Workshop Venice at the Public
In the Heights star Chris Jackson and Fela! leading man Kevin Mambo will participate in a December workshop of the hip-hop musical Venice at the Public Theater, has learned.

Christopher Jackson
Christopher Jackson Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

The Public, which declined to comment, previously held a workshop of Venice last August. The political musical inspired by Othello premiered at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre in 2010 and was subsequently produced at the Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles.

KC Rep artistic director Eric Rosen shepherds the upcoming workshop. He authored the book to the musical that has music by Matt Sax and lyrics by Sax and Rosen with additional music by Curtis Moore.

The workshop reunites many cast members from the August workshop, as well as the CTG engagement.

Jackson takes on the central role of Venice Monroe, with Mambo returning as his brother Markos. The workshop cast also features co-author Sax, Uzo Aduba (Prometheus Bound, The Nightingale), Angela Polk, J.D. Goldblatt (Les Miserables), Claybourne Elder (Road Show, One Arm), Rebecca Naomi Jones (American Idiot, Passing Strange), Victoria Platt (Sammy), Anna Eilinsfeld, Jon-Michael Reese and George Salazar (Godspell).

Rosen and Sax previously collaborated on the one-man hip-hop work Clay, which was seen Off-Broadway at LCT3 in 2008. Here's how Venice was billed in its earlier incarnations: "An operatic tale of war, love and the ultimate quest for peace, told through a dynamic mix of musical genres including hip-hop, R&B and traditional theatre music. Brothers Venice and Markos are in conflict over how to save their city from a terrorist war; one brother seeks peace while the other is mired in treachery and destruction."

Rosen is a playwright, director and producer. His original plays and musicals include Winesburg, Ohio, for which he wrote the book and lyrics and directed (Chicago's Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work, and five Barrymore Awards including Best Musical), Dream Boy (Jeff Award for Best Direction and Production), Wedding Play, Dancer from the Dance, Whitman and Undone. He also staged the world premiere of A Christmas Story: The Musical at KC Rep and in a revised production at the 5th Avenue Theatre.

Sax won a Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Solo Performance for Clay in its presentation by Lookingglass Theatre and About Face Theatre. Clay was also presented Off-Broadway by Lincoln Center Theater; it received Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations.

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