Nambi E. Kelley, whose stage adaptation of Native Son played Off-Broadway last year, has signed on as playwright for the upcoming Phenomenal Woman: Maya Angelou, a play with music about the late poet and civil rights activist.
The play with music will make its world premiere in spring 2021 (delayed from this year due to the coronavirus pandemic) at North Carolina Black Repertory Company before playing Memphis' Hattiloo Theatre and Houston's Ensemble Theatre. The multi-city run is in part the result of North Carolina Black Repertory Company’s 2019 National Black Theatre Festival, which grants an in-development piece at least three regional productions over two years through its Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin Rolling World Premiere Award.
David Michael Rich and J. Todd Harris are attached as commercial producers for a potential Broadway transfer; as previously announced, producers also include Angelou's son, Guy Johnson.
"It is a dream come true to work directly with people who knew and loved Dr. Angelou, including her son Guy, her sister friend Ms. Lydia Stuckey, and the good people at Corstoria and Branded Pictures Entertainment,” said playwright Kelley, whose credits also include Showtime's The Chi and a stage adaptation of Toni Morrison's Jazz. “This collaboration has truly been orchestrated by the heavens."
Named after one of her most beloved poems, Phenomenal Woman will weave Angelou's poetry and autobiographical writings—as well as anecdotes from those who knew her—to carry her legacy into a new generation. Additional creative team members, casting, and exact dates will be announced later.