The Ensemble Theatre Proudly Presents the Popular Off-Broadway Musical 'Crowns'
Opening: Thursday, April 28, 2005 -- 7:30 pm
HOUSTON, April 20, 2005 -- The Ensemble Theatre is proud to announce that, back by popular demand, the critically acclaimed musical adaptation of "Crowns", by talented playwright Regina Taylor, returns this month. The play's encore presentation was extended twice during its successful run last year and audiences will have yet another opportunity to enjoy this wonderful production.
"Crowns" is adapted from the book by Michael Cunningham and Craig Marbery and weaves together hilarious "hat queen" testimonials from African American women who own 30-100 hats, into a pastiche of dance, music and storytelling. It uniquely pays glorious homage to "hattitude", the journey each of us makes to discover place, pride and faith; and the musical, like the book, celebrates the generations of African American women whose hats fuse both faith and fashion.
This year's production promises to be the "Crowns" you remember and MORE primarily because it will feature a new cast performing with all the "hattitude" and music that was enjoyed last year with much, much more. Plus, it is directed this time by The Ensemble's Producing Artistic Director, Marsha Jackson-Randolph.
The playwright, Regina Taylor, has been honored by the American Critics' Association and is more widely known for her pivotal role of Lilly Harper in the acclaimed series "I'll Fly Away" which earned her a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series as well as an NAACP Image Award. Taylor was also the first black woman to play Juliet in "Romeo & Juliet" on Broadway.
"Crowns", is the story of a young teen initiated into a 'circle of hat queens", on her journey to the South. The play's director, Marsha Jackson-Randolph comments, "A scene omitted in last year's production involves her journey through a 'Middle Passage' of her culture. This year's production gives an equal weight to this simple story line of Yolanda's discovery of her African roots, in addition to the pageantry of the hat queen stories." The dramatization of this subplot broadens the scope of Tommacina Bell's role as choreographer, and likewise the breadth of the musical score arranged by Kenneth Myles.
The production features local actors including: Tony Glover, a favorite of The Ensemble Theatre audience; along with returning favorites, Shanica McKinney and E'brandia Burton. The new cast includes multi-talented actor, singer and dancer, Ane Ebie making her Ensemble debut; local gospel recording artist Rachel Rile; Aisha Ussery (last seen in Two Trains Running; and Joan Hubert, whose credits include work with The Ensemble and Ebony Opera Guild.
The play is a celebration of the life-giving traditions of storytelling, transformational gospel music, and adorning oneself with hats! Last season, 'hat queens' of many cultures turned out in record number, bearing witness to the fact that these traditions are not exclusive to African Americans or African peoples. Ms. Jackson-Randolph observes, "That's the beauty of 'Crowns' -- it is an uplifting journey into the connecting places in our lives and cultures."
Preview dates are Saturday, April 23rd @ 8:00 pm; Sunday, April 24th @ 3:00 pm, and Wednesday, April 27th at 7:30 pm. Opening night is Thursday, April 28th at 7:30 pm with a reception at 6:00 pm followed by the performance at The Ensemble Theatre located at 3535 Main St. SEVERAL PERFORMANCES ARE ALREADY SOLD OUT. "Crowns" is generously supported by The Cullen Trust for the Performing Arts, KMJQ FM Radio One and The Cultural Arts Council of Houston. It is also rated (G) for general audiences.
"Crowns" By Regina Taylor April 28th -- May 29th Performance Times ----------------- Previews: Saturday, April 23rd 8:00 pm Sunday, April 24th 3:00 pm Wednesday, April 27th 7:30 pm Thursdays 7:30 pm Fridays 8:00 pm Saturdays 2:00 pm Matinee & 8:00 pm Sundays 3:00 pm Matinee
For ticket information and groups sales, call the Box Office at (713) 520-0055, ext. 4300. The Ensemble Theatre's website address is www.ensemblehouston.com
The Ensemble Theatre, a 501 (c)(3), was founded in 1976 upon the foundation of the vision and talent of the late George Hawkins, founding Artistic Director, and has brought several generations of African Americans and other theatre patrons into the performance art form. The mission of The Ensemble Theatre is to preserve African American artistic expression, enlighten, entertain and enrich a diverse community. It holds the distinction as the nation's largest African American theatre that owns and operates it own facility. The $4.5 million facility includes the George Hawkins main stage with seating for 200 patrons; the Audrey Lawson Arena seating for 125; and a Performance Centre accommodating up to 500 people. In addition, the Ensemble's Tour Education Program provides performances for young audiences including schools, community outreach and training for young artists through The Young Performers Program.
CONTACT: The Ensemble Theatre Linda K. Brown (713) 737-8321 Janette Cosley (713) 520-0055, ext 4311