Tag Archives: Colman Domingo

‘I’m talkin’ little Jimmy Baldwin, baby — you gotta go to Another Country if you wanna get to Giovanni’s Room

‘Passing Strange’ alums bring new work to the New York stage in celebration of James Baldwin

BaldwinSome of my readers may recognize the main headline of this post as a quote from the musical play “Passing Strange.”

It’s Mr. Franklin, the church choir director talking, sitting in a VW Bug with some of his musical charges, holding a “prayer circle” whose sacramental ritual involved smoking weed.

It was hardly the only touching moment in the 2008 Tony-winning musical, but it was one of the more memorable.

I often say, jokingly, that everything in my life somehow connects to “Passing Strange.” When I look at the artists and performances that have inspired me over the years since I first encountered the show in a developmental form then known as “Travelogue,” back around 2004, many of them are somehow connected to the existential musical play.

Later this month, three key members of the “Passing Strange” family — Stew, who wrote the book and lyrics and co-wrote the music with Heidi Rodewald, and actors from the original production Colman Domingo and Eisa Davis — and a slew of other notable writers and performers will be involved in the New York Live Arts “Live Ideas Festival: James Baldwin, This Time!”  (Tap or click here for schedule and ticket options.)

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New World Stages responds to talk that The Scottsboro Boys will make a New York comeback there

New World Stages marquee, 340 West 50th Street, Manhattan. (Photo courtesy New World Stages)

‘No conversations’ about staging the Kander and Ebb musical, says NWS managing director

When we reported the news that one of the producers of The Scottsboro Boys publicly proclaimed the show was returning soon to an NYC stage, Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? offered it with a grain of salt.

It’s a good thing, because the the people at New World Stages, the house specifically named by the producer, are denying shooting down the idea — at least for now.

Michael Coco, NWS managing director, got back to us with this response:

Currently, all five theaters at NWS are filled with successful productions all with open ended contracts.  We do not anticipate any changes in our programming in the near future.

We followed up with Coco on this to clarify further. Continue reading

New World Stages responds to talk that The Scottsboro Boys will make a New York comeback there

New World Stages marquee, 340 West 50th Street, Manhattan. (Photo courtesy New World Stages)

‘No conversations’ about staging the Kander and Ebb musical, says NWS managing director

When we reported the news that one of the producers of The Scottsboro Boys publicly proclaimed the show was returning soon to an NYC stage, Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? offered it with a grain of salt.

It’s a good thing, because the the people at New World Stages, the house specifically named by the producer, are denying shooting down the idea — at least for now.

Michael Coco, NWS managing director, got back to us with this response:

Currently, all five theaters at NWS are filled with successful productions all with open ended contracts. We do not anticipate any changes in our programming in the near future.

We followed up with Coco on this to clarify further.

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The Public Theater announces its promising new season

How can any theater lineup featuring the talents of David Byrne, Fatboy Slim, Colman Domingo, Michael John LaChiusa, Edna Ferber and more go wrong?

New York’s Public Theater has just announced its schedule for the 2012-2013 theater season.

We’re particularly excited to see the world premiere of  David Byrne and Fatboy Slim’s musical Here Lies Love on the bill and are looking forward to the New York premiere of the musical Giant, based on Edna (Show Boat) Ferber’s novel with lyrics and music by Michael John LaChiusa.

But then there’s Colman Domingo‘s play Wild With Happy getting its world premiere, too!

See for yourself, after the jump.

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UPDATED: Provocative musical ‘The Scottsboro Boys’ returning soon to the New York stage?

The cast of The Scottsboro Boys.

BREAKING NEWS: New World Stages reacts. Click HERE.

UPDATED: An earlier version of this post conflated the Broadway show where this news was overheard with the source’s current Broadway credits. This update clarifies the source’s credits and reflects that Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? has now reached out to New World Stages and the producer for comment.

Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? has heard an interesting bit of theater gossip. We’re not generally given to reporting gossip, but the source of this one seems impeccable.

At intermission during the matinee performance of Leap of Faith on Broadway Saturday, April 7, a man greeted some friends near the bar. We couldn’t help but hear him reveal to his friend that he’s a Broadway producer. We didn’t immediately recognize him, but he mentioned that he’s producing Clybourne Park, a straight play now on Broadway, as well as a current Broadway musical comedy.

As the conversation went on, the subject of the short-lived Kander and Ebb musical The Scottsboro Boys,came up. It turns out the guy also was a producer of that provocative, somewhat unsettling minstrel-style musical about an infamous racist incident involving accusations of rape by a white girl against nine black teenage boys in 1931.

“It’s coming back, soon, to New World Stages,” he said with obvious pride. Lately, New World is where Broadway shows that, for one reason or another are no longer viable in a Broadway house, take on new life. Rent was revived there, Avenue Q and Million Dollar Quartet live on there. And soon, it seems, The Scottsboro Boys will find new life there, too.

We didn’t recognize the producer who was doing all the talking. T-+here are only one or two producers whose images who are seared in our memory, including Elizabeth McCann and Steve Klein, both of whom were involved with Passing Strange. But a few minutes of research on IBDB.com and Google Images helped us figure out that the guy was, indeed, a producer of the shows in question. So we’re guessing he knows what he’s talking about.

Scottsboro got good reviews in its off-Broadway run at the Vineyard Theatre. (Full disclosure: Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? is friend and huge fan of Colman Domingo, one of its stars.) It took us a bit of time to get past our feeling that it was somehow wrong to laugh at such a serious true story from the sad history of race relations in the United States. But once we set that aside and got into the spirit of the show, we really enjoyed it. But others in our audience, including a black couple we encountered nearby after the show, left feeling more uncomfortable than entertained.

The show fell flat when it moved to Broadway, running for just 29 previews and 49 regular  performances in the fall of 2010. The feelings of discomfort dogged it from the beginning of its run, and the show drew protesters who claimed it was racist. It also earned 12 Tony Award nominations and gained some rabid fans who continue to beat the drum for its return.

The Scottsboro Boys hasn’t disappeared. It got an extended run in Philadelphia earlier this year, and is set to begin performances April 29 at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, Calif. And it’s scheduled to play at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco starting June 21.

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Colman’s Big-Ass 40th Birthday!

Colman Domingo does the dance of the flaming pastry with De'Adre Aziza, Soara-Joye Ross and Eisa Davis. (Photos copyright 20009, Steven P. Marsh)

Actor Colman Domingo‘s birthday is Nov. 28. He celebrated at home with some close friends.

Colman channeling Maya Angelou.

Two nights later, on Nov. 30, he turned Joe’s Pub into a reasonable facsimile of his living room two nights later when he threw Colman Domingo’s BIG ASS 40th Birthday Party for his friends, family and fans. It was an evening of irresistible fun.

The stage was filled with singing and stories from Colman’s varied acting career, some from Passing Strange (De’Adre Aziza, Eisa Davis and musical director Jon Spurney) and others, including Ari Gold, Marva Hicks, Soara-Joye Ross and director Charles Randolph Wright, from other acting ventures.

Colman, who is one of the sweetest and most genuinely real actors I know, was touched by the audience’s enthusiasm. And he was thrilled to donate the evening’s proceeds to the Save the Children charity.

If you missed it, nothing I can write here could really recreate the moment, so just sit back and enjoy lots more photos after the jump.

Colman, De'Adre, Eisa, Ari, Marva and Neil Totton join voices.

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Monday night at Joe’s Pub: Clearly a Passing Strange family gathering

You can see the intensity in Paul Oakley Stovall's eyes.

Thanksgiving is a time when families come together. But this year, the Monday night after Thanksgiving is family day for Strange Freaks — people who love Passing Strange, its creators, its cast, and all the people inextricably linked to each other through the fantastic musical and movie. Monday night is when Joe’s Pub at NYC’s Public Theater turns into Strange Freaks Central with shows involving Stew, Colman Domingo and special guests during two shows that evening.

First there’s a performance of Clear, a new musical experience by Paul Oakley Stovall. Paul is the tall, striking young NYC-based singer who linked up with the Passing Strange crew during auditions for the show.

He’s an amazingly talented singer, who’s been heard before at Joe’s Pub, most memorably  on a bill with PS creators Stew and Heidi Rodewald and PS cast members. His show-in-the works, Clear, is the latest offspring of  PS, since Stew wrote some of the music. (Paul also has a day job working for the Obama administration. For a revealing interview with Paul in The Advocate, click here.)

Clear is being billed as an “opera poem” that will take you from the South Side of Chicago to the rooftops of Stockholm, from an ER in Minneapolis to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.  Paul wrote the book and lyrics, and collaborated with  Stew, Tom Kitt and others on the music. It’s produced by Steve and Ruth Hendel.

It is directed by Krissy Vanderwarker.

The  cast features Joshua Kobak, Yassmin Alers, Chris Anderson and Brad Simmons.

Check out a track from the show on the Joe’s Pub web site.  It sounds like a winner to me. Click here to listen.

Here’s Paul’s take on the piece, from an interview by Tonya Pinkins:

Clear was inspired by a piece I was working on about Bayard Rustin. Google him folks. He’s too deep to summarize. Stew and I wrote some great music. That piece went in a different direction (and we are still working on it together) but I had all these songs about a strong Black man, who was gay, passionate, political and, among many other things, a survivor. I began to rework lyrics, pull some songs from my other songwriting ventures and collaborators and create this semi-autobiographical piece about our universal human desire to rise out of our self-created fogs and live a life that is CLEAR. It will be told in a very unique way. Sort of mix between Sandra Bernhardt, Passing Strange, and Mario Cantone’s Laugh Whore. Structured, but freewheeling. And I’ve got the most amazing people on stage with me. So, I’m very much looking forward to finding out how people respond to this “pop poem opera” as I am starting to call it.

Clear, a concert reading. 7:30 pm on Monday, Nov. 30, at Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette Street, Manhattan. Tickets, available here, are $20.

Colman Domingo is celebrating his 40th birthday with a performace at Joe's Pub on Monday night.

Then, at 9:30, right after Clear, the amazing Colman Domingo, to whom regular readers of this blog need no introduction, will flex his musical and thespian muscles in a show that celebrates his 40th birthday (which actually falls on Saturday). Colman promises lots of special guests and surprises. Proceeds will benefit Save the Children.

I’ll let Colman explain the deal to you in his own words. And if you don’t recognize the names he drops, you just haven’t been paying attention. I’m guessing that Paul and his crew are likely to stick around for this one:
Celebrate my 40th Birthday with me at Joe’s Pub on November 30th. Anika, De’Adre, Eisa, Ari, Daniel, Jon and more will perform with me. Together we will sponsor children in need this year. That would be a great gift. Buy your ticket today.
Colman Domingo’s BIG ASS 40th Birthday Party, 7:30 pm on Monday, Nov. 30, at Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette Street, Manhattan. Tickets, available here, are $20.

Colman Domingo’s gonna put a little soul in your stroll

Colman Domingo

Colman Domingo

The audience is still buzzing and people are still finding their seats when Colman Domingo emerges from the wings of Manhattan’s Vineyard Theatre and begins flipping through crates of old vinyl records. The stage is littered with 12-inch discs in their cardboard sleeves. Piles of albums even seem to form the supports of the apron of the stage.

Colman sits and ponders, listens to the strains of sweet soul music, looks out at the crowd, sees some heads bobbing to the beat and smiles knowingly. Soul music is, after all, called that because it’s good for the soul.

Then Colman hoists his tall, sculpted frame onto the stage and heads onto the stage, dressed sparsely with more crates of albums, a component stereo system — complete with a record changer — and a barstool, set against a backdrop of rickety basement stairs and the detritus of urban life found belowstairs of many a house.

As he moves onstage, the lights go down and the music goes up. And the crowd grows quiet — even though it won’t stay that way for long.

Welcome to A Boy and His Soul, a tale of growing up black and gay in West Philadelphia in the late 1970s. It’s Colman’s very personal, very moving and very musical tale. Coleman, who works with his childhood nickname “J.J.” (which his sister will turn into “Gay Gay” before the final curtain), portrays multiple characters. He flows from J. J. to his mother, his stepdad, his sister, his brother and more — with deft changes of posture, facial expression and tone.

With little apparent effort, he manages to transport the audience to another world, all supported by a seamless soundtrack of soul music — Smokey Robinson, Earth, Wind and Fire, Luther Vandross, Aretha Franklin and many, many more.

This is the same Colman Domingo who made such a powerful impression in Passing Strange in its off-Broadway and Broadway incarnations. From this show you can see clearly that Colman’s Passing Strange characters were thoroughly informed by his forthright, warm personality. Yes, he’s acting in Boy, portraying a character, but he’s playing himself.

The heartwarming, very real show is filled with love and loss and will make you laugh and cry — often simultaneously. It will put a little soul in your stroll n matter what your age, sex or ethnicity.

Colman has graduated from the orange Adidas track suit he wore in previous versions of Boy in San Francisco and at NYC's Joe's Pub.

Colman has traded in this orange Adidas track suit for a spiffy patchwork blazer. But the louver-fronted wood entertainment center, with its old-school record changer, survived.

Click here to read Colman’s story of the inspiration for his show. And check out this revealing interview in The New York Times.

The house wan’t quite sold out when I saw it on Sunday. But it should have been. And with any luck it will sell out and run well beyond it’s announced closing date of Oct. 18.

Tickets are $55, and every seat in this house is good. But through this Thurday, Sept. 24, you can get seats for $35 by using the discount code TM35SOUL online or over the phone at (212) 353-0303.

Up for a Passing Strange road trip?

So glad he's not on Broadway: Stew and his adoring fans after the final Broadway performance of <i>Passing Strange</i> on July 20, 2008. (Photo by SPM, all rights reserved.)

He’s so glad he’s not on Broadway: Stew and his adoring fans after the final Broadway performance of Passing Strange on July 20, 2008. (Photo by SPM, all rights reserved.)

Just a month after hitting the Tribeca Film Festival, Spike Lee‘s film of Passing Strange will be screened at the Seattle International Film Festival on Saturday, May 23.

Spike Lee at the final Broadway performance of Passing Strange on July 20, 2008. (Photo by SPM, all rights reserved.)

Spike Lee at the final Broadway performance of Passing Strange. (Photo by SPM, all rights reserved.)

They’re doing an interview and Q&A session, oddly, before the screening, which no doubt will help avoid the really thorny audience queries, like what co-creator and narrator Stew really meant by “What’s inside is just a lie.”

Spike is also slated to get the SIFF’s 2009 Golden Space Needle Award for Outstanding Achievement in Directing.

Think that means they really, really wanted him to show up?