Sam Cooke: Forever Mr. Soul Gets World Premiere in Delaware Dec. 6-24 | Playbill

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News Sam Cooke: Forever Mr. Soul Gets World Premiere in Delaware Dec. 6-24 The short life and soulful music of Sam Cooke, the singer who gave voice to "Chain Gang," "Cupid," "Wonderful World" and more in the 1950s and '60s, will echo at Delaware Theatre Company in a new musical this season.
Lawrence Stallings  as Sam Cooke
Lawrence Stallings as Sam Cooke

Playwright-director Kevin Ramsey stages the world premiere Sam Cooke: Forever Mr. Soul, starting Dec. 6 and opening Dec. 9 at the Wilmington, DE, theatre. Performances continue to Dec. 24.

Forever Mr. Soul had a developmental workshop production at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre earlier this fall.

The work "delves into the life and musical accomplishments of Sam Cooke," according to DTC. It "brings to life the spirit and talent of the legendary musical genius, leading audiences through the soul of Sam Cooke's recordings, while recanting the tale of his tragically short life."

Born Sam Cook in Clarksdale, Mississippi in 1931 (later adding the "e" as a note of sophistication), he was one of eight children of the Rev. Charles Cook. The family moved to the south side of Chicago. Once there, Sam and his other siblings began performing in the Rev. Cook-inspired family group, the Singing Children. As a teenager, he became a member of yet another gospel group, the Highway QCs, followed shortly thereafter by the renowned Soul Stirrers, where he rose to gospel stardom.

He would cross over to secular music and had hits with "You Send Me," "Wonderful World," "Cupid," "Chain Gang," "Another Saturday Night," "Twistin' the Night Away," "Having a Party" and "A Change Is Gonna Come." According to DTC, "His astute business savvy was apparent in his accomplishment as owner of his own SAR's record label, music publishing companies and his deal with RCA/Victor, which guaranteed him ownership of his publishing rights."

He was shot to death Dec. 11, 1964, in a motel room. He was 33.

Actor-singer Lawrence Stallings will make his DTC debut playing Cooke. Recently, Stallings performed the role of Youth in The Public Theater's workshop presentation of Passing Strange, a co-production with Berkeley Rep. Other credits include From My Hometown, Trippin': The Musical, Death and the King's Horsemen, Seven Guitars, Life Is a Dream, Sparkle: The Musical, Purlie Victorious and The Amen Corner. Stallings is a native of Detroit, MI. He is a graduate of Morehouse College and holds an M.F.A. in acting from Temple University.

Playwright-director Kevin Ramsey choreographed DTC's Winter Wonderettes last season and served as the co-producer/director/writer on the award-winning short film "Tap Rap," starring Savion Glover, as well as directing and co-choreographing the critically acclaimed Off-Broadway R&B musical From My Hometown. Broadway credits include Cy Coleman's The Life, Five Guys Named Moe, Oh, Kay and Black and Blue.

C.S. Treadway is the play's Voice of the Radio.

The production team for Sam Cooke: Forever Mr. Soul includes Alva Nelson (musical director), Matthew Myhrum (scenic/projection designer), Janus Stefanowicz (costume designer), Troy A. Martin-O'Shia (lighting designer), Ryan W. Powers (sound designer) and Sara J. Tantillo (stage manager).

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