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2013: The Year in Black theater Part 2

Linda Armstrong | 1/9/2014, 11:13 a.m.
"Choir Boy"

The Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role in a Play was beautifully earned by veteran actress Tyson for her Broadway debut as Carrie Watts in “The Trip to Bountiful.” She starred with Cuba Gooding Jr., Vanessa Williams and Rashad. “The Trip to Bountiful” was a theatrical event that left one stunned. There was such passion and drama on the stage; it moved, captivated and inspired.

Finally, Patina Miller walked away with the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical for her versatile, energized and tremendous performance as the Leading Player in “Pippin” at the Music Box Theatre. This was a role previously played by Vereen, and a role that Miller made her own. She was marvelous as she led this production of “Pippin,” which reinvents the work as a circus act. It is so engaging and funny to watch.

The Billie Holiday Theatre in Brooklyn presented “The Obeah Symphony,” which was a very funny time. It was written by Kesi Foster and Jackie Alexander and starred B. Douglas Jones, Patrick J. Mitchell, Ito Aghayere and Marcelle Gover.

A new nightclub spot has opened in Manhattan called 54 Below, located at 254 W. 54th St., and it frequently features fantastic performances by Black actors. I had the pleasure of going to see LaChanze as she did an incredible tribute to Diana Ross in her one-woman show, “Love Hangover: LaChanze Sings Diana Ross.”

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Courtney B. Vance with Tom Hanks in "Lucky Guy"

2013 also saw tap dancer extraordinaire Savion Glover back onstage at the Joyce Theater doing what he does in “Savion Glover’s STePz.” Glover performed a mesmerizing show with Ayodele Casel, Sarah Savelli, Marshall Davis Jr. and Robyn Watson.

The Manhattan Theatre Club presented “Choir Boy” by Tarell Alvin McCraney, a moving piece of theater that featured gospel singing and focused on homophobia. It starred Jeremy Pope, Grantham Coleman, Anthony Coleman, Wallace Smith, Kyle Beltran, Nicholas L. Ashe and Cooper. It was powerful to watch. The play looked at homophobia in a boys private school.

Jeannette Bayardelle displayed her versatility and talents in 2013 as she performed her one-woman show “Shida: A New Musical,” as part of the Ars Nova Summer Fling series. She told a poignant story of a girl who had been sexually abused.

Buried Child,” a poignant, powerful and disturbing drama about a family riddled with problems, was presented by the City College of New York at Aaron Davis Hall on Convent Avenue and 135th Street. This play is the creation of playwright Sam Shepard and features an overbearing and annoying wife and mother, an ill husband and father and mentally unstable sons. The cast included Robert Boardman, Teresa Ann Volgenau, Eric Gravez, Tenice Divya Johnson, Leroy Smith Graham, Stephen Macau and Edwin Matos Jr.

This past year proved that something that is wonderful, can be enhanced and improved. That happened in the case of the play “Platanos & Collard Greens,” which was changed to “Platanos, Collard Greens Y Callaloo.” The play, written by David Lamb, now has a West Indian element added to it, and it is delightful. It is still playing at the Baruch Performing Arts Center and is a must-see! It still takes a humorous look at the relationship between Freeman, a Black youth, and Angelina, a Dominican girl, and how the stereotypes that exist in their cultures get in the way of their having a healthy relationship. The cast includes Edgar Moore Jr., Jocelyn Marie, Preston Taylor, Gordon Harry, Shakirah DeMesier, Gabriel Hamilton, Glenn Quinton and Pamela Rose Rodriguez.