When making plans for this month, make sure that you set aside Sunday, Feb. 17, because on that day at 3 p.m. at the Queensborough Performing Arts Center, Black Broadway veterans will be taking to the stage and performing tributes to some of our greats like Sammy Davis Jr. and Nat King Cole.
You’ll have the unique opportunity to see Norm Lewis, who recently starred on Broadway in “Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess” and has performed the role of Javert in “Les Miserables”; Keith David, whom everyone knows from August Wilson’s “Seven Guitars”; Ben Vereen, who played the Wizard in “Wicked”; Andre De Shields, who starred in “The Full Monty” and “Hair”; Larry Marshall, who performed in “Jesus Christ Superstar”; Keith Robinson, Ted Louis Levy, Omar Edwards, Frank Owens and Longineu Parsons.
Broadway producer/choral director/arranger Chapman Roberts has put this inaugural concert together as a special concert series. Roberts is the same man who put together almost 500 of the most successful African-American Broadway singers, dancers, actors, designers, playwrights, composers and producers, who all converged on Times Square and took a historic photo.
“As a result of witnessing the staggering amount and quality of talent and Broadway experience that converged on the event, Norm Lewis and I decided to establish and produce the ‘Black Stars of the Great White Way Concert Series,’ drawing exclusively on the talent from that photograph. It can go on forever, since a bevy of children of ‘The Lion King’ were in attendance,” Roberts explained.
“The musical icons we are honoring at this event and all subsequent Black Stars concerts are the most prominent jazz performers, arrangers, pianists, conductors, composers and nightclub, film, concert recording and Broadway artists in the history of the world, and are the only people ever to have achieved such eclectic status. As a result, they are also highly influential–socially, politically, spiritually and globally. For this initial performance, they will include [songs by] Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Paul Robeson, Sammy Davis Jr. and Eubie Blake,” Roberts excitedly said.
The performers chosen for this inaugural concert are the foremost purveyors of their art form in the world today, bar none. Each of them possesses an enviable Broadway pedigree, and collectively they have been nominated for and won numerous awards including NAACP, Audelco, Drama Desk, Tony, Grammy and Emmy awards. They themselves are living African-American legends.
In addition to Black Stars of the Great White Way, there will be special performances by the York College Big Band and Robert Mann Dancers.
The Queensborough Performing Arts Center is at 222-05 56th Ave. in Bayside, Queens. All seats are $35. For more information, call Queensborough Community College at 718-631-6311 or visit www.visitQPAC.org.