Last chance to catch 'Sowa's Red Gravy'
5/23/2013, 2:58 p.m.
Woodie King Jr.'s New Federal Theatre, in association with Castillo Theatre, is presenting "Sowa's Red Gravy" by Diane Richards at the Castillo Theatre, 543 W. 42nd St., between 10th and 11th avenues. Last performance is the Sunday, Nov. 18, matinee.
In addition to Lonette McKee, King directs a cast that features Aaron Fried, Jonathan Peck, Kimberly Q., Toni Seawright, Gary E. Vincent, Iris Wilson, David D. Wright and Kene Holliday ("Streamers," "Matlock," "The Josephine Baker Story").
"Sowa's Red Gravy" is a play filled with humor and insight by a master storyteller of Southern folklore. The six-character play with music captures the sound, heart and fury of African-American culture. The play is similar in style and content to the works of the Harlem Renaissance writers Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes. "Sowa's Red Gravy" is a play of Southern "mulebone" folklore and unforgettable characters like Windy Willow, Sapphire and Luwana.
Narrated by Sowa, a 110-year-old wise woman who resides in Harlem in quantum time, she recounts her life before the emancipation and claims to have lived lives as varied as a white Hollywood film star, an African warrior and a Louisiana voodoo queen. Sowa's storytelling is so captivating that you are sure to be convinced she is telling the truth, and you will delight in the other characters as well.
Playwright Diane Richards is a new voice in the American theater and an emerging playwright who fills a much-needed void in American theater. Her greatest passion is writing. She is a member of the Harlem Writers Guild, the prestigious African-American writers guild whose early founding members include Dr. John Henrik Clarke, Maya Angelou, Rosa Guy, Grace Edwards, Terry McMillan and Ossie Davis. Richards has studied fiction writing with James Baldwin and Elia Kazan's legendary editor, Sol Stein.
Also a songwriter and screenwriter, Richards has had an impressive career in the entertainment industry, winning recording artist awards, writing and producing her own material and associate producing NKOTB and Big L's albums on Sony Records.
King is the founder and producing director of New Federal Theatre, which has presented over 250 productions in its 41-year history. King has produced and directed on Broadway, off-Broadway, in regional theaters and in universities across the United States. He originated and subsequently co-produced "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf" and was recently inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame for his outstanding contributions to the American theater.
McKee received a Tony Award nomination for her portrayal of the tragic Julie in the Houston Grand Opera's production of "Showboat," for which she received the distinction of becoming the first African-American actress to play the coveted role in the U.S. She later reprised the role on Broadway for great theatrical director Hal Prince. She earned critical praise and a Drama Desk nomination for her heartbreaking portrayal of Billie Holiday in the one-woman hit drama with music, "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill." McKee exploded onto the screen in a stunning feature film debut playing the beloved character Sista in the now cult-movie "Sparkle."
Following were starring roles in dozens of renowned films. She continues to write and produce music and screenplays along with television concepts for Lonette McKee Films Inc. "Dream Street," an original screenplay for theatrical release, marks McKee's directorial debut and was chosen as a finalist in Sundance Film Lab. Currently, McKee is a contributor for the Huffington Post and teaches an acting workshop at the City College of New York Continuing and Professional Studies.
Performances of "Sowa's Red Gravy" are Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25 and can be ordered at www.castillo.org or by phone at 212-941-1234. For more information, visit www.newfederaltheatre.org or call 212-353-1176.