Thursday, December 29, 2005

Tucson: Arizona Theatre Company presents CROWNS


From: Arizona Theatre Company []
Sent: Thursday, December 29, 2005 10:28 AM
Subject: Arizona Theatre Company presents CROWNS

For Immediate Release

December 29, 2005

Media Contact: April Brown 520.884.8210 x 8205


Smash-hit musical play combines a soaring gospel score with tales of

Arizona Theatre Company is raising the roof with a gospel score and a whole
lot of "hattitude" in the Arizona premiere of Regina Taylor's soul-stirring,
smash-hit musical play, Crowns. Based on the book by Michael Cunningham and
Craig Marberry, Crowns showcases the soul, faith and spirited style of
African-American women, embodied in the fabulous hats they wear to church.
Directed by Andrea Frye, Crowns runs from January 14 through February 4,
2006 at the Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Ave., in downtown Tucson
and continues its run in Phoenix from February 9 through February 26, 2006
at the Herberger Theater Center. The 2005-2006 season underwriters are I.
Michael and Beth Kasser.

This gospel-music-infused play celebrates the tradition, style and grace of
African-American women through the story of Yolanda, a tough
African-American girl from Brooklyn who is sent to live with her grandmother
in South Carolina after a family tragedy. Through "Mother Shaw" and her
empowering "hat queen" friends, Yolanda comes to understand the importance
of keeping traditions of the past alive, including the unique significance
that hats have among African-American women.

Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry's acclaimed book Crowns: Portraits of
Black Women in Church Hats captures the oral histories of fifty women
ranging from feisty twentysomethings to serene grandmothers. From the
beginning, Marberry believed his collection of oral histories would
translate well to the stage and touch many audiences. "Most of the dialogue
in the play comes directly from the oral histories in my book," Marberry
said. "So these are the stories of real women-proud, elegant, charming women
who touched my heart."

A sold-out hit in theatres across the country from New England to
California, and from Seattle to Miami, Crowns makes its Arizona premiere in
this brand new production. Crowns is a co-production with Portland Center
Stage where it will play from March 14 through April 9, 2006 and Actors
Theatre of Louisville where it will play from April 19 through May 14, 2006.

Regina Taylor received Helen Hayes and Audelco Awards for Crowns, which was
first produced at the McCarter Theatre and Second Stage. Ms. Taylor is
resident playwright at Alliance Theatre and is developing a play based on
Chekov's The Cherry Orchard set in Atlanta in 1962 entitled Magnolia. Other
plays include Oobladee, Watermelon Rinds, Inside the Belly of the Beast,
Urban Zulu Mambo, Escape from Paradise and A Night in Tunisia.

Andrea Frye recently completed a six year stint at the Oregon Shakespeare
Festival where she directed acclaimed productions of A Raisin in the Sun and
Nilo Cruz's Two Sisters and a Piano. She also recently directed Jar the
Floor for Alliance Theatre Company and For Colored Girls . . . at Portland
Center Stage. She has also directed critically acclaimed productions of Home
for Jomandi and Valley Song for Alliance Theatre. Other directing credits
include Come and Gone, The Lion and the Jewel, Blues for an Alabama Sky, The
Screened-in Porch, The Ties That Bind, Do Lord Remember Me, The Colored
Museum, Buried Children, She'll Find Her Way Home and Spunk.

Returning to ATC are Julia Lema (Mabel) who was previously seen in Ain't
Misbehavin' and Swinging on a Star. Her performance credits also include
Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, Play On!, Dreamgirls, Blues in the
Night, Thunder Knocking on the Door, A Brief History of White Music,
Beehive, Sweet & Hot in Harlem, Leader of the Pack, Little Ham and The Sweet
Spot; and Erika LaVonn (Velma) who was previously seen in Seven Guitars. She
has performed in Chicago, Australia and Broadway productions of
Steppenwolf's The Song of Jacob Zulu and recently performed in Disney's
Broadway show, The Lion King, for three and a half years.

Making their ATC debuts are Pat Bowie (Mother Shaw) who just completed a
tour of Flyin' West as Miss Leah. On Broadway she appeared as Mrs. Zulu in
The Song of Jacob Zulu. Other credits include performances at Barter
Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Alliance Theatre Company, Southwark
Theatre and England's Nottingham Playhouse; Thomas Jefferson Byrd (Man)
played the role of Toledo in August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom on
Broadway. Other credits include Two Trains Running, Spunk, Home, The Piano
Lesson, Flyin' West, Hamlet, Miss Evers' Boys, Elmina's Kitchen and Good
Boys; Crystal Fox (Yolanda) who played Marie in an off-Broadway production
of Everybody's Ruby and whose regional theatre credits include performances
at True Colors Theatre Company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Merrimack
Theatre Company, Alliance Theatre Company and Portland Center Stage; and
Angela Carol Grovey (Wanda) who returns to Crowns, previously playing the
role of Mabel at Arena Stage, Geva Theatre and Studio Arena Theatre. Her
many regional credits include performances at Goodspeed Opera House, North
Shore Music Theatre and Apple Tree Theatre.

The artistic team includes James Calhoun (Music Director) who has served as
church organist, conductor and coordinator of music ministries at the
historic Second Baptist Church, Los Angeles for more than 21 years. Mr.
Calhoun has toured internationally, including recent performance at Carnegie
Hall; Mercedes Ellington (Choreographer) who returns to ATC after
choreographing Play On!, which then went on to Broadway. Other Broadway
credits include Sophisticated Ladies, Harry Chapin's The Night That Made
America Famous, The Grand Tour and No, No, Nanette; Marjorie Bradley
Kellogg, (Scenic Designer) whose Broadway credits include Any Given Day, On
Borrowed Time, Lucifer's Child, American Buffalo, Da, Requiem For a
Heavyweight, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, Soloman's Child, Arsenic and Old
Lace, Steaming and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas; Reggie Ray (Costume
Designer), who has designed costumes for Debbie Allen, Keith Alan Baker,
Michael Bobbit, Tim Bond, Andrea Frye, Mike Malone, Regina Taylor, Joy
Zinoman and many others. Mr. Ray has received seven Woodie King Awards for
Outstanding Costume Design for The Colored Museum, Blues in the Night, Urban
Transition/Loose Blossoms, Screened in Porch and The Wiz; Dawn Chiang
(Lighting Designer), who previously designed lighting for ATC's productions
of Blues for an Alabama Sky and Oh Coward!, was resident lighting designer
for New York City Opera. Ms. Chiang's Broadway credits include Zoot Suit and
Tango Pasion (co-designed with Richard Pilbrow); Brian Jerome Peterson
(Resident Sound Designer) celebrates his 20th season and 48th sound design
for ATC; and Liz Lohr (Stage Manager).

Tickets range from $26-$44 depending on date and section choice and are
available at
<> or by
calling the ATC box office at (520) 622-2823. Discounts are available for
students, seniors and active military. Half-price student rush tickets are
available for balcony seating for all performances one hour prior to curtain
at the ATC box office (subject to availability; must show ID). For discounts
on groups of eight or more, call (520) 884-8210 x 8204.

ATC will offer a Pay What You Can performance on Tuesday, January 17 at 7:30
PM. A limited number of tickets will go on sale at the Temple of Music and
Art at 11 AM on the day of the performance. Purchases are limited to two
tickets per order with a suggested donation of $5 per ticket and are sold on
a first come, first served basis. The tickets must be purchased in person
and with cash only.

ATC offers audio-described performances for patrons who have low vision or
are blind on Wednesday, February 1 and Thursday, February 2 at 2 PM.
Interested patrons may request a tactile tour one hour prior to curtain.
Braille and large-print playbills are available upon request from the house
manager. An American Sign Language-interpreted performance is offered
Saturday, January 28 at 8 PM. Patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing will
receive a biography of the interpreters, a description of the play and name
signs of each character. An open-captioned performance is offered on
Thursday, February 2 at 2 PM. As the play progresses, those in
open-captioned seating will be able to read the play's dialogue displayed in
large green letters on an LED. The service is for patrons with mild to
severe hearing loss who may not be ASL-literate. Tickets to all performances
are available through the ATC box office at (520) 622-2823. TTY access for
the box office is available via Arizona Relay at (800) 367-8939 (TTY/ASCII).

For ticket information for the Phoenix run of Crowns, call the ATC box
office in Phoenix at (602) 256-6995 or visit our website at
<> .
Crowns Fact Sheet
For more detailed information about Arizona Theatre Company's Crowns,
including specific performance dates and times, please visit the Crowns Fact
Click here to be directed to the Crowns Fact Sheet

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