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Linda Armstrong

Stories by Linda

Lane, Uggams and Epps discuss history of Blacks in theater

Stewart F. Lane wrote a phenomenal book called “Black Broadway: African Americans on the Great White Way,” published by Square One Publishers. The book chronicles the history of Blacks in theater, and it is a marvelous, exciting, fascinating history.

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An American in Paris’ has been reinvented!

Broadway’s Palace Theatre, at the corner of Broadway and 47th Street, is home to a reimagined version of “An American in Paris,” and it is worth seeing.

‘Tallest Tree’: Beaty phenomenal as Robeson

From the time that Daniel Beaty began his one-man show “The Tallest Tree in the Forest,” your attention was grabbed and maintained.

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UniverSoul: You will laugh, clap and be moved

From the time you sit down at the UniverSoul Circus, you realize why you are here once again. It is time for you to rejoin this family.

‘Brothers From the Bottom’ is a vital work to see

Have you ever experienced a play that not only entertained you, but also left you feeling educated and motivated? I saw a play over the weekend that did just that. “Brothers From the Bottom” is a captivatingly written and directed play by Jackie Alexander.

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Ringling Bros. is ‘Xtreme’ fun

“Circus Xtreme” is the current offering from Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus, and it is extreme—an extremely good time for all! Make sure to arrive early because once you pick up your tickets, you are invited to come onto the floor as long as it is one hour before the performance for the preshow. D

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Broadway dished up the laughs with James Earl Jones

The comedy “You Can’t Take It With You,” one of the funniest productions to ever hit a Broadway stage, just finished its run at the Longacre Theatre on West 48th Street.

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‘Dutchman’ is powerful theater

“Dutchman” by Amiri Baraka, playing at the Castillo Theatre on West 42nd Street, is being performed by New Federal Theatre. Woodie King Jr. has decided to dedicate the theater’s 46th season to reviving Baraka’s work. “Dutchman” is a very powerful play to watch.

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Black B’way stars chronicled in fabulous new book

“Black Broadway: African-Americans on the Great White Way” is full of the history of Black performers on Broadway, with some of the most stunning photos of these performers that you will have the pleasure of viewing.

This year, consider AUDELCO and support Black theater

As you begin the new year and decide what you want to do with some of your extra money or time, consider getting involved with AUDELCO, the nonprofit organization that has been supporting Black theater for 42 years.

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‘Into the Woods’ is big fun on the big screen

The Disney Christmas release, “Into the Woods,” is definitely a gift for the entire family. Rated PG, it is a delightful movie to experience.

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‘Africa Umoja’: Strength, passion and spirit

If you were at Symphony Space last week, then you got to experience the captivating, sensual and powerful performance of “Africa Umoja: 20 Years of Freedom and Democracy Tour.”

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Black theater Year in Review

2014 was a phenomenal year for Black theater.

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‘Radio City Christmas Spectacular’ ushers in the holidays

The “Radio City Christmas Spectacular” is back at Radio City Music Hall, and it is a marvelous way to usher in the holiday season.

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Wallace is a powerhouse in Frederick Douglass play—hurry!

You only have until Sunday, Dec. 14 to go to the ArcLight Theatre and experience a one-man tribute to Frederick Douglass.

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‘Brownsville’ captivating, moving theater

Lizan Mitchell opens “brownsville song (b-side for tray)” with one of the most moving, riveting and emotional monologues I have heard in a play in years.

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Howard Robertson: Retired Rikers warden starts anti-violence program

Imagine having your father murdered during a mugging when you are only 9 years old, then, later, three of your older siblings die from drug usage, and your mother is murdered by her boyfriend while you are away at college?

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Billy Porter, family, cast discuss theatrical first

I recently had the pleasure of attending the opening night performance of “While I Yet Live,” playing at the Duke on West 42nd Street.

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Palmer is perfect as Cinderella on Broadway

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella,” playing at the Broadway Theatre at 53rd Street and Broadway, currently stars Keke Palmer in the role of Ella, and this young lady is wonderful.

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Multiple award winner Billy Porter talks new play

Q&A: Billy Porter, the Tony, Grammy, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award-winning actor for his portrayal of Lola in “Kinky Boots,” in which he is still starring on Broadway, has decided to take a step in a slightly different direction.

Black stars are front and center at Carnegie Hall

I had the distinct pleasure of being in Carnegie Hall as history was made. Yes, it was nothing less than history, as a packed theater experienced.

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‘If/Then’ is about possibilities in life

Did you ever make a choice in life and wonder what would have happened if you did something else?

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‘After Midnight’ Is Pattified!

Tuesday, June 10 was the official press opening for Patti LaBelle in “After Midnight,” a musical that spotlights Harlem nightlife in 1932. “After Midnight” is now officially “Pattified.” LaBelle put her delightful spin on each song and made the jazz music and ballads of that period come alive as only she can do.

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Audra McDonald makes history at 68th Tony Awards

Audra McDonald made history on Sunday, June 8 when she became the first person to win six Tony Awards.

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Audra McDonald channels Billie Holiday on Broadway

Audra McDonald channels the spirit of Billie Holiday in a touching, moving portrayal of the late jazz singer in her Broadway show, “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.”

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Drama Desk Shows Love to McDonald, Iglehart, Thompson

At the 59th annual Drama Desk Awards, held at Town Hall on West 43rd Street, three African-American actors won the coveted award that acknowledges the best in Broadway and off-Broadway theater.

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Billie Holiday production brings back old-time faith

The Billie Holiday Theatre is currently showing “The Seeds of Abraham,” a play that is both a drama and a comedy.

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‘Dutchman’ is stunning!

If you want to have a theatrical experience that will leave you stunned, then you need to head to the National Black Theatre on 125th St. and 5th Avenue and see “Dutchman.” It is the 50th anniversary of this powerful, emotional drama created by the late Amiri Baraka.

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Norm Lewis: First Black phantom on B’way!

History will be made with the longest running show in Broadway history, “Phantom of the Opera,” when for the first time on a Broadway stage, an African-American actor—Norm Lewis—will step into the lead role as the Phantom.

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‘Raisin’ is riveting!

“A Raisin in the Sun” is superb! This production is powerful! There is such raw, real and passionate emotion. Lorraine Hansberry truly gave life to the struggles of Black families and the relationship dynamics that exist in the Black family.

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Babyface bursts onto B’way scene; Braxton needs to project

The line went down Eighth Avenue to 46th Street, and people were excited as they waited to get into the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on West 47th Street to see multiple Grammy Award winners Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds and Toni Braxton appear in “After Midnight”

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The Public delivers passion-filled ‘Antony and Cleopatra’

I have experienced several productions of “Antony and Cleopatra” over my three decades of covering theater, but none were performed with the intensity and passion that I saw in the Public Theatre’s production

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Voza Rivers honored at NFT’s 44th anniversary

Woodie King Jr.’s New Federal Theatre’s 44th anniversary celebration was fabulous! It was a great Black theater family reunion held at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center at 199 Chambers St. this past Sunday.

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The ‘Greatest Show on Earth’ has a Black Ringmaster!

“Legends” is the name of the 144th edition of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and it is coming to the Barclays Center on Feb. 20.

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Harlem Repertory Theatre offers fantastic double bill

If you enjoy marvelous theater performed in an intimate setting, then you must make plans to go to see Harlem Repertory Theatre at the 133th Street Arts Center

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2013: The Year in Black theater Part 2

Amazing, powerful, extraordinary, brilliant and thought-provoking are just some of the adjectives that come to mind when I think about the year in Black theater during 2013.

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‘Christmas Story’ is family fun for the holidays

The mounting of a production of “A Christmas Story: The Musical” becomes a holiday tradition.

‘Piano Lesson’ leads AUDELCO Awards!

Have you ever had an evening when all the stars seemed to align in the sky and everything was right with the world? An evening when everyone who deserved to be recognized for their brilliant works received their just reward? Well, that is what happened on a recent Monday night at Symphony Space on Broadway and 95th Street as the 41st annual Vivian Robinson/AUDELCO Recognition (“VIV”) Awards for Excellence in Black Theater took place. Signature Theater left its mark on the ceremony, as it received eight well-earned VIV Awards in the distinguished categories of Best Revival; Best Director/Dramatic Production, Ruben Santiago-Hudson; Best Lead Actress, Roslyn Ruff; Best Lead Actor, Brandon J. Dirden; Best Supporting Actor, Chuck Cooper; Best Costume Design, Karen Perry; Best Set Design, Michael Camahan; and Best Lighting Design, Rui Rita. The stage was set as the production won the first three awards for lighting, set and costume design right off the bat.

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Nominations are in for AUDELCO Awards

Throughout the past theater season, Black actors, playwrights, directors and technical professionals have done amazing work,

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‘Radio City Christmas Spectacular’: A great way to usher in the holidays

The holidays are upon us once again, and hopefully this will be a season filled with joy. One marvelous way to usher it in is by going to see “The Radio City Christmas Spectacular” at Radio City Music Hall, located at West 50th Street and the Avenue of the Americas. Every year, my daughters and I look forward to this production bringing out the warmth and love of the upcoming holiday season, and we haven’t been disappointed yet. The “Radio City Christmas Spectacular” is absolutely amazing.

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Get your scare on!

“Nightmare: Killers2” is scary good! It is the most fun you will have while you are screaming from fright and laughing as you run through the halls of the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, located at 107 Suffolk St., between Rivington and Delancey streets.

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‘Platanos, Collard Greens Y Callaloo’ is funny food for thought

Ten years ago, playwright David Lamb opened up everyone’s eyes when he boldly created a hilarious play that looked at the stereotypes that exist between Blacks and Hispanics titled “Platanos Y Collard Greens.” He looked at whether these two groups could find love and have a successful relationship with all the odds stacked against them.

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David Lamb expands ‘Platanos Y Collard Greens’

 Ten years ago, audiences began to be thrilled by the hilarious and culturally revealing play “Platanos Y Collard Greens,” written by David Lamb. In the original production, Lamb looks at whether Black and Latina love can survive and examines many of the cultural stereotypes that exist in society.

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Former Riker’s warden gives kids the ‘411’

In “The 411 On Bullying, Gangs, Drugs and Jail: The Formula for Staying in School and Out of Jail,” written by Warden Howard Robertson, speaks from his personal experiences and interviews he conducted with young men on Riker’s Island. Robertson speaks directly to young readers in a language that is on their level

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August Wilson reading series: A theatrical dream come true

Anyone who has experienced just one of the late August Wilson’s plays knows that they have seen a treasured piece of theatre—one that helps chronicle Black life in this country.

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‘Shida’ is a sensation

There is an amazing production playing at ARS Nova Summer Fling on West 54th Street that’s full of powerful songs, stirring performances and engaging characters. Based on real people, “Shida: A New Musical” takes the audience on an emotional roller coaster ride. This production is the creation of its star, Jeannette Bayardelle, who also wrote the show’s book, music and lyrics. “Shida” delivers a very dramatic story about child molestation, a broken family and broken dreams.

‘Choir Boy’ reveals hurtful homophobia

“Choir Boy” is very moving theater! It looks at prejudice, tolerance and understanding for homosexual youth. This play, written by Tarell Alvin McCraney, features gospel music and takes a very candid and vivid look at the hurtful, prejudicial way a homosexual boy is treated at an all-boys private prep school. He often finds it difficult to keep his head up. It is sad to watch as this young man handles all types of insults, but it’s also touching to see that, despite the attacks, he stays confident in who he is. In fact, he even briefly finds love.

‘Choir Boy’ reveals hurtful homophobia

“Choir Boy” is very moving theater! It looks at prejudice, tolerance and understanding for homosexual youth.

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Broadway diva LaChanze charmed in Diana Ross tribute at 54 Below

Broadway diva LaChanze performed “Love Hangover: LaChanze Sings Diana Ross” at 54 Below, located at 254 W. 54th St., on a recent Sunday night. It was touching to see one diva confess and demonstrate her admiration for another diva. While Ross has many amazing songs that she has left her mark on, LaChanze managed to recreate some of those timeless numbers and give them dramatic interpretations that were so astonishing, original and unforgettable.

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Savion Glover talks tap and performance

Tap dancer extraordinaire Savion Glover will be performing in “Savion Glover’s STePz” at the Joyce Theatre at 175 Eighth Ave. from June 18 to July 6. Glover will be performing with four other dancers who are professionals and students from his Newark-based school, the HooFeRzCLuB School for Tap. Glover recently sat down with the AmNews to talk about the school and the upcoming show.