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Linda Armstrong

Stories by Linda

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2016: The year in review in Black theater

The year 2016 was full of brilliance for Blacks in theater. The year began with the phenomenal work of Lydia R. Diamond, “Smart People,” which was presented by Second Stage Theater and starred African-Americans Mahershala Ali and Tessa Thompson, along with Joshua Jackson and Anne Son.

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‘Cats’ is dazzling!

I have never seen anything like it. A production that had people dressed as and acting like cats. A musical that has the audience come to an understanding of the things that these animals go through.

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‘Rudolph’ is great family fun through Dec. 18

When you were a child, did you look forward to the holiday season because you knew that Channel 2 was going to run “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?” I know I did.

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‘“Master Harold” … and the Boys’ is theatrical brilliance

Poignant, riveting, captivating and disturbing are the words that come to mind as you watch the timeless production of Athol Fugard’s “‘Master Harold’ … and the Boys” playing at the Pershing Square Signature Center on West 42nd Street.

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The 44th annual VIV Awards—Oh what a night!

Last Monday night was the annual heartwarming Black Theater family reunion, acknowledgement of extraordinary talent and a love-fest.

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‘Autumn’—An explosive political play

The Billie Holiday Theatre recently presented the politically explosive play “Autumn.”

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Anna Deavere Smith gives voice to the everyman

I don’t know anyone else who has the gift to interview people—to capture the person’s words and essence, tone of voice, facial gestures, nervous ticks such as stuttering, way of sitting and particular body movements that clearly depict that a different individual is addressing the audience—than Anna Deavere Smith.

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Zora Neale Hurston celebrated at Castillo Theatre

New Federal Theatre in association with the Castillo Theatre is celebrating the 125th birthday anniversary of Zora Neale Hurston with a wonderful play penned lovingly and respectfully by Laurence Holder entitled “Zora Neale Hurston, A Theatrical Biography.”

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‘Sweat’ is Lynn Nottage at her best!

Lynn Nottage is a gifted playwright. She can take a real situation and place it into a play in a way that an audience can understand, identify with and deeply care about.

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Nominations are out for 2016 AUDELCOs

Nominations for this year’s AUDELCO Awards, the “VIVs” as they are affectionately called, after late founder Vivian Robinson, were recently announced.

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‘Marie and Rosetta’ will take you to church

“Marie and Rosetta” is a production that needs to be seen! Set in Mississippi in 1946, it tells the story of legendary gospel singer Rosetta Tharpe and her protégé Marie Knight. Tharpe, a popular singer who sold more than a million records, had to deal with prejudice and racism.

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Jordan Donica, first Black ‘Raoul’ in Broadway’s ‘Phantom’

I remember how excited I was when it was first announced that Norm Lewis was going to be cast as the Phantom in “The Phantom of the Opera,” on Broadway, making him the first Black man to play the role in the Broadway production.

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'Motown the Musical' is marvelous!

“Motown the Musical” is back on Broadway. It’s a completely engaging, soulful trip down memory lane, mixed with serious moments that echo the discrimination that Blacks have endured in this country.

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‘She Loves Me’ is a theatrical delight!

You will love “She Loves Me,” playing at Studio 54. This musical comedy is just a good time at the theater.

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‘Paramour’ is thrilling theater

In the audience, you get to experience a captivating story, phenomenal singing and some of the most stunning, graceful and lovely acrobatics you’ve ever seen.

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New Federal Theatre holds gala benefit

Woodie King Jr.’s New Federal Theatre recently held a festive gala benefit at Trump Place, 220 Riverside Blvd., honoring Novella Nelson and Melvin Van Peebles, two of many actors and directors who have worked at NFT over the theater’s 46-year history. Van Peebles was introduced by Academy Award winner Estelle Parsons. Nelson was introduced by former Mayor David Dinkins.

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Tamara Tunie takes to the stage for ‘American Son’

Tamara Tunie, beloved star of “Law & Order: SVU,” is onstage in a new, world-premiering drama called “American Son.”

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‘The Total Bent’ targets corrupt TV evangelists

“The Total Bent” is a musical that highlights how corrupt some TV evangelists can be.

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#TonysSoBlack: Diversity wins at Tony Awards

"Hamilton" and "The Color Purple" win big at the Tony Awards as diversity shines.

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‘Shuffle Along,’ ‘Color Purple,’ ‘Eclipsed’ and ‘Royale’ recognized at Drama Desk Awards

Black theater was recognized for its brilliance and talent on and off Broadway at the 61st annual Drama Desk Awards, held Sunday, June 5 at the Town Hall. “Shuffle Along” received the ultimate honor and several more, “The Color Purple” was recognized and “Eclipsed” received special attention on a few levels.

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‘Skeleton Crew’ is theatre at its best!

Watching “Skeleton Crew” is like seeing a slice of life. “Skeleton Crew” is theatre at its best—a prime example of how theater imitates life.

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Brennyn Lark makes stunning Broadway debut in ‘Les Miserables

If you go to the theater to be moved, to cry and to feel inspired, then you must make plans to see the current revival of “Les Miserables,” playing at the Imperial Theatre on West 45th Street.

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Joe Morton is the brilliant Dick Gregory in ‘Turn Me Loose’

“Turn Me Loose” is a tour-de-force that celebrates Dick Gregory’s brilliance. Joe Morton is quick-witted, funny and poignant as the iconic comedian.

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Emmy winner Joe Morton takes the stage as Dick Gregory

Joe Morton, who recently won an Emmy for his portrayal of Eli Pope on ABC’s “Scandal,” has returned to the New York stage, playing stand-up comedian and activist Dick Gregory in “Turn Me Loose”

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Black productions recognized with Drama Desk noms

The Drama Desk Awards honor the best in Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway theater.

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‘Blackbird’ is a riveting, disturbing drama

Broadway is a vehicle through which many different topics can be discussed, including those that may be difficult for people to approach and deal with.

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'Shuffle Along’ is Black Broadway history

“Shuffle Along, or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed,” is one of the most significant, sensational, stirring musicals to come to Broadway in some time. It gives an endearing, historical record of “Shuffle Along,” the first Black musical staged on Broadway in 1921.

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UniverSoul Circus surpasses expectations

Every year I look forward to UniverSoul Circus returning to New York and it never disappoints.

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Phylicia Rashad at the Public Theater—enough said!

Is “Head of Passes” exceptional theater? Let me answer that question with two words—Phylicia Rashad (so yes!). Rashad plays Shelah, the ill matriarch of a Louisiana family who is dying and needs to tell her children.

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‘Sugar Ray’ is a knockout!

How much do you know about Sugar Ray Robinson?

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‘The Humans’ a realistic family drama

Stephen Karam has put together a captivating drama that looks at the frailties that we all have in “The Humans,” playing at the Helen Hayes Theatre on Broadway.

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‘Fiddler’ revival disappointing

I was so excited to hear that there was a revival of “Fiddler on the Roof” playing at the Broadway Theatre.

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‘Dot’ exposes devastation of Alzheimer’s disease

Colman Domingo hits the Alzheimer nail on the head with “Dot.”

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‘Hughie’ is boring Broadway

Forest Whitaker, an academy award-winning actor, is making his Broadway debut playing Erie Smith in Eugene O’Neill’s “Hughie” at the Booth Theatre. Now, there is no question that Forest Whitaker is an outstanding actor, producer and director.

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Straight A’s for “School of Rock” on Broadway

“School of Rock—The Musical” is a high-octane performance!

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REVIEW: 'Timeless, The Mystery of the Dark Water'

Theatrical productions should be approached with an open mind.

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2015: Black theater year in review: Pt. 1

The year 2015 was one of the most magnificent years that Blacks in theatre have experienced for some time.

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‘Tappin’ Thru Life’ is terrific!

Maurice Hines is starring in a new show, “Tappin’ Thru Life,” at New World Stages on West 50th Street.

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Clowns, jugglers, aerialists, acrobats and more at Big Apple Circus

The Big Apple Circus is back at Lincoln Center, and it’s a delightful family experience.

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AUDELCOs: Celebrating the Black theater family

Last Monday, Symphony Space was the place to be for members of the Black theater family

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‘Eclipsed’ offers blinding spotlight on mistreatment of women

The Public Theater is a leader in presenting relevant plays about real and devastating subjects that people around the world have endured and survived.

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And the AUDELCO nomination goes to ...

In 2014 and 2015, Black theater has shined so brightly.

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Jones and Tyson simply charming in ‘Gin Game’

“Simply charming” is the best way to describe theater veterans James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson as they co-star in “The Gin Game” at Broadway’s Golden Theatre on West 45th Street.

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Rapping history works on Broadway in ‘Hamilton’

I did not have the opportunity to experience the Lin-Manuel Miranda musical “Hamilton” when it was playing off-Broadway, but I’m so glad I did get to see it on Broadway.

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New York productions to be showcased at NBTF

Black theater family, make your plans and get ready to pack your bags this summer.

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‘Black Stars of the Great White Way’ to headline NBTF

Chapman Roberts, the executive director and producer of “Black Stars of the Great White Way,” is very excited these days, as he prepares to bring this unique, marvelous production down to the National Black Theatre Festival, happening Aug. 3 to 8 in Winston-Salem, N.C., as the main stage production, which is an enormous honor.

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Corey Mitchell makes history at 69th Tony Awards

History was made this year at the 69th annual Tony Awards, held at Radio City Music Hall, as the inaugural Tony for Excellence in Theatre Education was awarded.

The incredible story of the Jubilee Singers

Inspired, educated, motivated—that’s how I felt as I watched “A Band of Angels” at Theater 3, located at 311 W. 43rd St.

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Don’t make plans to ‘Visit’

Have you ever sat in a Broadway theater and thought of the offering before your eyes, “This is weird”?

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‘The Glass Menagerie’ shines

The Masterworks Theater Company is proving that classic plays are truly timeless.

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