Thursday, December 23, 2010


Happy holidays everyone!

December has been quite a busy month.

On Saturday, December 4, 2010, I partnered with Marva Allen, CEO of Hue Man Bookstore in Harlem and the Arts and Entertainment Task Force of the National Association of Black Journalists to bring best-selling author TERRY McMILLAN to Broadway!

Terry graciously agreed to be part of a grand experiment cooked up by Marva and I to bring books to Broadway. Participants got a discount ticket to see the award-winning musical FELA! and a copy of Terri's latest novel, GETTING TO HAPPY, the sequel to WAITING TO EXHALE for just $85. In addition, they were treated to a post-show discussion with Terri about telling our stories which was moderated by Patrick L. Riley, co-chair of the NABJ A & E Task Force, plus a book sale and signing.

Let me tell you. That Terry is one really cool chick -- funny and absolutely brilliant. So is Marva. It was beyond my very vivid imagination as a marketer to find myself in the position to collaborate with such forces of nature.

I also had the privilege of working with another really cool chick. Her name is April Silver and she is the founder and CEO of AKILA WORKSONGS. I have worked with April for over a decade. She is a solid sister whose company is all about arts and activism.

On Wednesday, December 16th, April and I put together Be A Father to Your Child Night at FELA! Be A Father to Your Child is a book of essays, interviews and poetry about real black men and their views/experiences with fatherhood. It is an amazing book. Some of the contributors from the book including Byron Hurt, Kevin Powell and Mo Beasley were joined by some of the FELA! cast for a panel about the power of Fela and issues of black masculinity. April, who edited the book, served as moderator. It was an amazing event.

To catch up with these really cool chicks and all that they do visit their web sites:

Terri McMillan --
Marva Allen --
April Silver --

If you want to find out more about the National Association of Black Journalists, check out

One More Thing:

FELA! completes its Broadway run on January 2, 2011. You still have a little bit of time to see this award winning musical with the amazing PATTI LaBLLE. Some discounts are still around. Here is one:

Save when you use code FEWTG81.
Orch Seats -- $89 (reg. $122)
Rear Mezz -- $49.50 (reg. $99)

Three ways to purchase tickets:
Online: and enter code FEWTG81
Phone: 212.947.8844 and mention code FEWTG81
In Person: Go to the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Box office and mention code FEWTG81.

Merry Christmas and Happy Kwanzaa!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

This 'n That

I have been doing some serious hanging out with friends lately.

Two weeks ago I went to see FOR COLORED GIRLS with about 25 women. We were four generations strong! Following the movie that was playing at the Regal on Court Street in Brooklyn, we headed to Night of the Cookers where we ate, talked, sang and shared about being colored girls, colored women, colored elders and colored queens. We made the commitment to stay in touch, go to other events together and create projects together. I got everybody's email address and created a FCG Club list serve. We'll see what we come up with!

Last Friday I went with seven friends to see A FREE MAN OF COLOR produced by Lincoln Center Theater ( It is written by Tony Award winner John Guare (Six Degrees of Separation), is directed by Tony winner George C. Wolfe (Noise/Funk, Angels In America, Topdog/Underdog) and stars Tony winner Jeffrey Wright (Angels in America, Noise/Funk, Angels in America, Boycott, Ali), Mos (aka Mos Def), Joseph Marcell (Fresh Prince of Bel Air) and about 30 other people.

We had an amazing time. The play takes place in New Orleans, Haiti, and France in 1801 before the Louisana Territory was purchased by the United States from France. And people of color -- quadroons, octoroons, mulattos, sambos and other shades of black were not constrained by the social, economic, and political conventions that were governed by race and that peculiar institution like their neighbor to the east. Once Louisana became part of the United States, the sale and stoke of a pen said that your degree of blackness did not matter anymore. You were black. Period. All rights and privileges of being free and of color were revoked. Instantly.

The play was funny. Tragic. Truthful. And produced on the scale of grand opera. Jeffrey Wright has got to be the most underrated and the most brillant actor of his generation.

Following the performance I had dinner with two of the seven folks I started with. We talked, laughed and debated about what we had just experienced. Before we knew it, it was 1:30 a.m.

Go see A FREE MAN OF COLOR. Now! Right now!


Been doing a lot of reading lately. Right now I am reading Terry McMillan's Getting to Happy, Her sequel to Waiting to Exhale. Terry is a master storyteller. I am having a ball reading about Savannah, Robin, Bernadine and Gloria 15 years later. It is wonderful to read about women who are not 25 years old and silly.

Loved reading Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud. Dr. Cornel West is an awesome brother. Thank God for him!

Had not read a sweeping saga in a long while until I was given a copy of Some Sing Some Cry, A novel by Ntozake Shange and her sister Ifa Bayeza. Seven generations of African American women, their love of life, of music, and what it means to be family. Wow. I was swept away.


I love to dance and recently found myself in a West African dance class taught by one of the featured dancers in the Broadway musical FELA! Hadn't been in a class in years, but I was moved to go after I danced with Temples of Praise (the dance ministry) and Prime Time (the ministry for people who are "nicely seasoned") at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Brooklyn. Oh I had danced during Prime Time emphasis weekend before. But never had my soul said "You've have got to dance!" So, I am dancing. And loving it.

Monday, November 1, 2010


I had the privilege of attending a private screening of FOR COLORED GIRLS last Friday night. As a colored girl whose life was changed by reading, seeing, performing in and teaching the text to undergrads while I was in graduate school, I was ready not to like the Tyler Perry film. Could the creator of Medea really pull off translating this beloved classic from theater to cinema?

Well. The film is not perfect (What film is?) The performances are solid. My favorite moments are by all the theater divas -- Anika Noni Rose, Phylicia Rashad, and Loretta Divine. Wait until you see an intense scene shared by Ms. Rashad and Thandie Newton. You will shout "WORK!" just like we did during the screening.

The film works best when it stays true to Ntozake Shange's language and its original intent. Things go a bit awry when the poetry going into and coming out of the narrative feels forced, contrived. BUT. It is truly a joy to see black women, in all our various shades of black, on screen in living color.

When you see FOR COLORED GIRLS (and you must experience the film), see it with several generations of women, if possible. Go to a restaurant, diner, or cafe afterwards and break bread. Talk. Connect. Be blessed by the experience. And look for the Broadway revival of the play for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf in 2011.

Theater with Friends

About two weeks ago, I went to see a preview performance of The Scottsboro Boys, the new Kander and Ebb musical, with about 8 serious theater-going friends. The Scottsboro Boys re-tells the story of the infamous 1931 case about nine young African American males falsely accused of raping two white women as a minstrel show.

Now. Without giving details about our post-performance discussion at a mid-town diner, I will tell you that our discourse was spirited and fun. Theater is a communal experience. The next time you go to a live performance, a lecture, a film, a book signing -- share it with a friend or friends. That will make all the difference.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A few things to remember when going to the theater

I have been an ardent theater goer and arts warrior for over 20 years. In that time, I have witnessed some amazing things (the absolute joy of my nephew Gregory experiencing his first Broadway show) and some outrageous occurances (a playwright cursing out a patron when she refused to stop talking on the phone during the performance).

There is so much for black folks to see in NY theater this season: FELA! RACE, MEMPHIS, THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS, A COOL DIP IN THE BARREN SHAHARAN CRICK, IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT, LANGSTON HUGHES IN HARLEM, THROUGH THE NIGHT, FENCES (with Denzel!!!)...And I definitely want to encourage everybody to be in the house when the curtain goes up. However, I'd just like to share some things that will make the theater-going experience more -- shall we say -- pleasant for everyone:

HATS. Don't wear your amazing crowns -- church hats, or other major head gear to the theater. You may be "wearing that hat," but the PEOPLE SITTING BEHIND YOU WON'T BE ABLE TO SEE THE SHOW. They can't see over or around up-do locks either.

DINNER AND A SHOW. What a wonderful way to spend an evening engaging in food for the body and spirit. Can't finish the meal? Don't ask for a doggie bag to take with you. The usher working on Broadway will not allow it in the theater. Even if you manage to sneak it in, please don't unwrap your goods and chow down during the performance. The actors, and everbody else in the theater, will hear and smell what you're eating.

CALL AND RESPONSE. Black folks come from a "call and response" tradition. "Talking back" to the actors can add a lot to the theater going experience -- when it is honest. Making comments to upstage what is going onstage is, well, annoying.

CELL PHONES. Turn them off before the performance begins. Or put them on "silent" or "vibrate." If you forget to silence your phone, don't act like it is not yours and continue to let it ring. And please don't answer it and start a conversation. Actors will call you out or curse you out -- all in character of course.

GIVE texting, sexting, tweeting, updating your Facebook status and emailing a rest during the performance. That blue or white light is distracting. Yes. The actors and just about everyone in the audience can see it. Besides, why would you want to miss a minute of a performance that you spent $75 to see in order to check on somebody who's ignoring you anyway?

BE ON TIME. If you spent your hard earned money on orchestra center tickets, be in those seats when the curtain goes up. All eyes will definitely be on you as you make all the people in your row get up to let you in. You will hear much sucking of the teeth if you purchased H107 and H108 and arrive twenty minutes late. I saw a Tony-winning performer have a spotlight follow a sister to her seat when she was 20 minutes late for his show. Everybody was having a good laugh except her.

Friday, February 19, 2010

It Has Been A While...

FELA! is still going strong on Broadway. I saw the show again on Wednesday, February 17. I had the priviledge of hosting a number of community leaders, many of whom had never been to Broadway. It really bouyed my sagging spirits. Kevin Mambo was on in the title role. He was amazing.

For those of you who don't know, the role of Fela is shared by two actors -- Sahr Ngaujah and Kevin Mambo. Please learn their names. It drives me crazy when people proudly say that they've seen the show twice (That's good). Once with the dark skinned Fela and the other with the light skinned one (That's not so good).

Here is another discount code that will save over 30% off the regular ticket price: FEWTG107. You can redeem by visiting, calling Telecharge at 212.947.8844 or mentioning it at the Eugene O'Neill Box Office - 230 West 49th Street, NYC

For you educators: A special student discount of $25 for the following Wednesday matinees -- 2/24; 3/3, 3/10 and 6/9. Curtain is at 2pm. For more information give me a call at 646.467.7393.

On My Radar:

The Scottsboro Boys at the Vineyard Theater ( Black Angels Over Tuskeegee at St. Luke's Theatre...The Neighbors at The Public Theater ( Daniel Beaty's Through the Night at Crossroads Theater in New Brunswick, NJ ( SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK at the Metropolitan Museum of Art -- In Concert March 5 @ 7pm (

Can't wait to see FENCES with DENZEL and Viola Previews begin April 14th at the Cort Theatre in NYC! Get your tickets ASAP. It is truly a hot ticket.

Did You Know...
That there are several musical productions about Barack Obama underway in Europe? It is so true. Google it!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Oh Lord! Denzel is coming to Broadway...with VIOLA DAVIS!

Kenny Leon is set to direct two-time Academy Award winner Denzel Washington and Oscar nominee and Tony Award winner Viola Davis in August Wilson's perfect play, Fences. Previews begin April 17 at the Cort Theater. Opening night is April 30.

Davis gave us the most searing 12 minutes on screen ever in Doubt (Adriane Lenox played the same role on stage and won a Tony for it). I've also seen her in at least one scene in several movies starring George Clooney. I absolutely loved her in Tyler Perry's Medea Goes to Jail (Look. No matter what you think of him or Medea, TP keeps lots of folks of color working on stage and screen).

She won a Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Play in August Wilson's King Hedley II. If you are an actress looking for the "monologue of life" to perform at your next audition, you'll find it in King Hedley. Read the play. You'll know when you come across it. And understand why this sister won the Tony.

Stay tuned for more details about Fences. Make sure you go see FELA! while you're waitin' on Denzel to bring his A game to Broadway.

One more thing...Michelle Williams, formerly of Destiny's Child, returns to Broadway in the long running hit musical Chicago. She'll be playing the role of Roxie Hart beginning Feb. 15, 2010. Check her out at the Ambassador Theater