Playwright to Attend Opening Night of 'They Sing Christmas Up In Harlem' at The Ensemble Theatre
HOUSTON, Nov. 19, 2003 -- The ensemble theatre jumpstarts the holiday season with the presentation of "They Sing Christmas Up in Harlem." Written by playwright, director, and scholar, Eric LeRoy Wilson, who will be in attendance opening night. This new holiday offering from the ensemble runs November 20th thru December 21st at the theatre located at 3535 Main Street.
The setting is Harlem of the late 1930's. It's Christmas Eve. Followers of Adam Clayton Powell and the Red Cross vie for donations. The dutiful clerk Bob Cratchit is on his way to work, and his boss, Scrooge, a numbers running, penny-pinching gangster -- oh, sorry, "loan shark," strolls Lenox Avenue collecting debts. Oh, and his partner, Marley is dead. But not dead as he wanna be!
In this new interpretation of Dicken's classic tale, the miserly Scrooge is visited on Christmas Eve by spirits consorting to save him from himself. These ghostly visitors bear a striking resemblance to 'Bob' Marley, Adapearl, Aunt Esther, and a host of 'spirits' culled from African American history and culture. The play's director, Marsha Jackson-Randolph elaborates, "In 1939, coming out of the great depression and the end of the Harlem renaissance, Harlem was a community of people improvising upon the givens. However, 1939, is only a reference point. The play improvises, reaching into the past and reaching forward into contemporary African American culture, to reinterpret this universal classic, with humor, insight, imagination, and heart." Integrating a range of jazz, popular, gospel, and classical work, Dr. John Cornelius, music director for 'Harlem After Hours', has orchestrated a score that is both inventive, and warmly familiar. Similarly, Vincent James, last seen as Joseph in "Black Nativity" has collaborated with Ms. Randolph in staging and choreography.
The accomplished cast of "They Sing Christmas Up in Harlem" is headed by Henry Edwards (recently seen in Tet's "Harlem After Hours"), as the insufferable Scrooge and Brandon Delagraentiss (from the cast of "Christmas is Comin' Uptown") portraying 'Charlie" the muse of Harlem who drives the story's unfolding. Rennette Brown, Tracey Wheat and April Sloan Hubert, veterans of the hit, "Black Nativity" take diva turns as the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. Other cast include Steven Scott and Broderick Jones (recently seen in "Sundown Names and Night Gone Things"), along with Ryan Lord, and Candice Felix, (as Lil' Tim and Lucy Cratchit) along with other dynamic talent from the ensemble's young performer's training program.
"They Sing Christmas Up in Harlem" is a timeless portrayal of how joy transforms a man, and a city. In the end, Scrooge discovers gospel, jazz, and joy! Ensemble theatre audiences will too!
For ticket information and group sales call The Ensemble Theatre Box office at 713-520-0055 x 306.
Founded in 1976 by the late George Hawkins, The Ensemble Theatre is one of the oldest and most distinguished professional theatres in the U.S. devoted to the African American experience.
The Ensemble Theatre is funded in part by grants from the city of Houston through the cultural arts council of Houston/Harris County.
CONTACT: The Ensemble Theatre Andrea J. Barefield (713) 520-0055