Power Players Debra Ann Byrd of Take Wing And Soar Productions, in partnership with Voza Rivers/New Heritage Theatre Group, are teaming up to present TWAS’ Tenth Year Anniversary Season main stage production of Oscar Wilde’s celebrated comedy, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, directed by Kevin Connell for a limited run at the Poet’s Den Theater, from June 14-30, 2013.
In this production of THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, helmer Kevin Connell sets the TWAS Classical Actors of Color in 1920’s Harlem with high style, dynamic dialogue and the music that changed a nation. Two young gentlemen living in 1920’s Harlem have taken to bending the truth in order to put some excitement into their lives. Things start to go awry when they end up together in the country and their deceptions are discovered. Experience a glimpse of America’s black bourgeoisie in Oscar Wilde’s hilarious comedy of manners.
Featured in the cast are James Edward Becton* [Playing with Fire], Andrew R. Cooksey [The Ritz], Michael Flood* [Arcadia, As You Like It], Samuel T. Gaines* [Romeo & Juliet, Cloud 9] Danielle Lee Greaves* [Lion King, A Streetcar Named Desire], Bliss Griffin* [War of the Roses], Lawryn LaCroix [Ruined], Tom Martin [King Lear, Hamlet] & Take Wing And Soar’s founder Debra Ann Byrd* [Antony & Cleopatra, The Rivals] as the infamous Lady Bracknell.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST is designed by an award winning design team featuring Broadway Costume Designer Gail Cooper-Hecht, celebrity Scenic Designer Chris Cumberbatch, AUDELCO Award-winning Sound Designer David D. Wright, Lighting Designer James Carter, Dramaturgy by Talvin Wilks,Casting by Sara Koch Casting & Marketing by Shabazz Communications, Inc. Producers of EARNEST are Debra Ann Byrd & Voza Rivers, associate producer is Raphael Benavides.
KEVIN CONNELL [Director] is a Professor of Theatre Arts at Marymount Manhattan College, where he serves as Coordinator of Junior & Senior Acting & Recruiter for the Department of Theatre Arts. Kevin served as the Period Style & Etiquette Coordinator for the 2012-2013 Broadway production of The Heiress. Directing credits include: Lawrence Dukore’s ‘Round Midnight (Turnip Theatre Company & American Globe Theatre’s 17th Annual 15-Minute Play Festival); Christopher Durang’s Baby with the Bathwater (Ground UP Productions); Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliette (Collective Company); Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, Wilde’s An Ideal Husband, Marivaux’s The Triumph of Love, Constance Cox’s adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime & Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The Rivals (Take Wing And Soar Productions at the National Black Theatre & the Poet’s Den Theatre); James Magruder (book), Jeffrey Stock (music) & Susan Birkenhead’s (lyrics) musical Triumph of Love; J.B. Priestley’s Time & the Conways, Oliver Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer, Michael John LaChiusa’s musical Hello Again, Tennessee Williams’ Approaching the End of a Summer, Edward Albee’s Finding the Sun, A.A. Milne’s The Ugly Duckling, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Richard II titled The Holy Terror, James Valcq & Fred Alley’s musical The Spitfire Grill, Seneca’s Trojan Women, Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest & Tony Kushner’s Reverse Transcription (Marymount Manhattan College). He performed in the play Temporarily Yours, (also playwright) at the 2001 Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Scotland). Additionally, Kevin has performed in productions at The National Theatre (London), La Jolla Playhouse, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, TheatreWorks USA, The Wayside Theatre, TheatreFest, NJ & Pinewood Film Studios (London), among other credits. He is co-adapting Kathryn Harrison’s novel Exposure for the stage. Kevin attended The Ohio State University (B.F.A.) & the University of California, San Diego (M.F.A.).
Take Wing And Soar Productions, Inc. [Producer] founded in 1999 by classically trained actress Debra Ann Byrd, now celebrating its 10th season is a women-led, New York State, 501(c) 3 Professional Theatre Arts Corporation, dedicated to supporting women, youth & especially classically trained actors of color. In its brief history, Take Wing And Soar Productions has enjoyed many successes including the creation of The TWAS Theatre Project, The TWAS Classical Lab Reading Series, The Take Wing And Soar “Spirit of Excellence Awards,” the Harlem Shakespeare Workshop & the Hackney Harlem International Youth Project. The theatre company is the 2009-2010 recipient of the LPTW Lucille Lortel Award, presented in recognition of the theatre’s body of work in the community, audience development in Harlem & in celebration of the “International Exchange Program” between Take Wing And Soar Productions & London’s Hackney Empire Theatre. Other honors include five AUDELCO Awards & 27 AUDELCO Award nominations for its mainstage productions of Richard III, The Darker Face of the Earth, Hamlet, Medea, King Lear, Pecong, Antony & Cleopatra and Massinissa. THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST is Take Wing And Soar’s 34th production and 11th mainstage project.
Voza Rivers | New Heritage Theatre Group [Producer] is the oldest Black nonprofit theatre company in New York City. NHTG was originally established in 1964, under the name New Heritage Repertory Theatre by the late Roger Furman, a revered playwright, director, actor & lecturer who began his career in the 1940s with the American Negro Theatre in Harlem. It was created to present entertaining, informative & quality productions & to preserve & institutionalize classic works of Black theatre. In 1983, Voza Rivers, an award winning music & theatre producer took over the company. Today, New Heritage Theatre Group serves the community through presentations of entertaining, informative & quality productions of performing arts events, stage readings & documentary shorts & films. Through its umbrella organizations Impact Repertory Theatre, Furman Theatre Rep & New Heritage Films we reach out to the New York City & world community, giving training, exposure & experience to new & emerging artists. Our works reflect the historical, social & political experiences of African & Latino descendants in America & abroad. We seek to bring attention to works by international writers, directors & performing artists who have achieved success in their respective country but lack exposure in the United States.
*DENOTES MEMBER AEA
The show runs June 14 -30, 2013, Fri – Sat @ 8pm, Sat @ 2pm & Sun @ 3pm at The Poet’s Den Theater, 309 East 108th Street [Just Off 2nd Avenue]. Tickets: $18. General Admission| $15. Students & Seniors. Group sales available 10+; $35. Opening Night Gala Performance & Reception: Thur., June 20th at 7pm. For reservations, call OvationTix (212) 352-3101 or visit www.takewingandsoar.org.