LONG WHARF THEATRE PRESENTS CROWNS, A JOYOUS MUSICAL CELEBRATION, FROM APRIL 18 THROUGH MAY 13, 2018

NEW HAVEN – Long Wharf Theatre, in association with the McCarter Theater Center, presents the 15TH anniversary production of Crowns, written and directed by Regina Taylor.

Performances take place April 18 through May 13, 2018 on the Claire Tow Stage in the C. Newton Schenck III Mainstage. Tickets start at $30.

The press opening will take place Wednesday, April 25, 2018 at 7:30 pm.

The cast includes Shari A. Addison (Mother Shaw), Gabrielle Beckford (Yolanda), Lawrence Clayton (Man), Rebecca Covington (Jeanette), Latice Tenae Crawford (Velma), Stephanie Pope (Wanda), and Danielle K. Thomas (Mabel). The creative team includes Dianne McIntyre (choreographer), Jaret Landon (musical director,) Caite Henver (set design), Emilio Sosa (costume design), Bradley King (lighting design), Robert Kaplowitz (sound design), Rasean Davonte Johnson (projection design), Alison Cote (stage manager), Rebecca Scholl, Telsey+Co. (casting.)

When a Chicago teenager is sent to live with her grandmother in South Carolina, she finds herself on a powerful journey toward discovering her place in this world and in her family. Inspired by the best-selling book by Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry, Crowns weaves faith and fashion together into an inspirational, joyous coming-of-age musical celebration of triumphant African American women, their church hats, and the traditions and love passed from generation to generation.

“I think this piece is about the tenacity of the human spirit, how we can get through the dark times, how we can bond together, grow together, and support each other,” Taylor said.

Taylor is revisiting the production, making changes to the music and focus of the piece, with the narrative now being told from the teen’s perspective as she deals with her past and her newfound sense of self. She is also working with composers Jaret Landon, Diedre Murray, and Drama Desk Award winner Chesney Snow (In Transit) to create a new musical soundscape merging, gospel, soul, and hip-hop.

For more information or to purchase tickets visit longwharf.org or call 203-787-4282.

CREATIVE TEAM

Regina Taylor
Playwright/Director
Regina is elated to return to Crowns at McCarter/Long Wharf (Original production: 4 Helen Hayes Awards including Best Director). Upcoming: Bread (Edgerton Award) at Water Tower Theater, directed by Leah C. Gardiner. Ms. Taylor was honored as the 2017 Denzel Washington Endowed Chair in theater at Fordham University at Lincoln Center where she directed her play Magnolia. She contributed to the Princeton and Slavery Plays at McCarter that featured work by Emily Mann, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Jackie Sibblies Drury, Nathan Alan Davis, Dipika Guha, and Branden Jacobs- Jenkins. Writing credits include: Trinity River Plays (Edgerton Award); Drowning Crow (Broadway); stop.reset. (Signature Theater Residency 5). Ms. Taylor is an Artistic Associate at Goodman Theatre and one of its most produced playwrights. Acting credits include: first African American Juliet on Broadway in Romeo and Juliet (Belasco Theater), first African American lead in Masterpiece Theater’s Cora Unashamed. Ms. Taylor received a Golden Globe Award for Best Lead Performance for the TV Series I’ll Fly Away. Movies include: Clockers, Courage Under Fire, and Lean on Me. Many thanks to Emily Mann!

Shari Addison
Mother Shaw
Shari is a highly accomplished vocalist, has a career that spans many diverse music genres, but especially loves gospel. Accomplishments: Black Entertainment Television’s (BET) premier broadcast, Sunday Best; BET’s Celebration of Gospel, host Steve Harvey; 2010 Stellar Award, “Best Traditional CD of the Year”; featured artist, Bobby Jones International GospelArtists Retreat. Contributing author, Tears to Triumph; Performances with luminaries: Kirk Franklin, Martha Munizzi, Bebe Winans, Mary Mary, Michael McDonald, Yolanda Adams, Marvin Sapp, Fred Hammond, Ben Tankard, Shirley Caesar, Patti LaBelle, and Stephanie Mills. International performances: Russia’s Maxim Gorki Theater, U.S. Russian Embassy, South Africa, and Brazil. Television: ABC, FOX, WCIU and WGN networks. Stage: 1000th Performance Lee Breuer and Bob Telson’s, The Gospel At Colonus, Carnegie Hall and its world tour; Regina Taylor’s Crowns, Goodman Theatre, Chicago. Honor: 2016 Jeff Award, portraying Aretha Franklin in Jackie Taylor’s Dynamite Divas, The Black Ensemble Theater, Chicago.

Gabrielle Beckford
Yolanda
Gabrielle is honored to be making her McCarter debut! She is a NYC native from Queens and recent BFA Musical Theatre graduate from Rider University. Repertory Theatre credits include Thingamajig Theatre Company’s AIDA, Hairspray, Big River and Sister Act at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts. Regional Theatre credits include BEOBE Production Company’s All Shook Up at the Laguna Beach Playhouse.

Lawrence Clayton
Man
Lawrence most recently appeared on Broadway in the Tony®, Grammy, and Emmy Award- winning Broadway revival production of The Color Purple. Other appearances include Bells Are Ringing, It Ain’t Nothin But the Blues, The Civil War, Once Upon a Mattress, and Dreamgirls. Off-Broadway includes Crowns at Second Stage (Audelco Award); Saturn Returns and Romance in Hard Times at The Public Theater. Regional audiences have seen him in productions of The Christians, Damn Yankees, Big River, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Avenue X. On the small screen Lawrence has appeared in episodes of Elementary, Law & Order: SVU, Homeland, The Good Wife, The Big C, Deadline, Law & Order: CI, and the made for TV movie Mary and Rhoda. He can be seen in the upcoming film Mike, Mike Tan.

Rebecca E. Covington
Jeanette
Rebecca is very excited and honored to be making her McCarter debut with this special show! She was most recently seen on Broadway in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical as Janelle Woods! Other Broadway credits include: Motown the Musical (OBC)! National/International Tours: Ain’t Misbehavin’; Motown the Musical; Beautiful: The Carole King Musical; Mamma Mia; and Thoroughly Modern Millie. You can find her on Twitter @RoRoCov or on Instagram @RoRoWebb

Latice Crawford
Velma
Through her life-transforming music and soul stirring performances, singer-songwriter Latice Crawford has become a favorite in the gospel community. Gifted with a bold, powerful voice, Crawford’s cadre of fans have come to know that the unique musical experience the Bronx, New York native delivers, stems from a story of triumphs and struggles which she passionately shares in her music. Crawford first gained national notoriety during her breakout performances on Season 2 of BET’s Sunday Best, where she achieved second runner up. She released her billboard charting self-titled debut album in 2014 and in 2016 released her sophomore project, Diary of A Church Girl. The critically acclaimed work garnered Crawford a Stellar Award nomination. For more information, visit www.LaticeCrawfordMusic.com

Stephanie Pope
Wanda
Stephanie is a native of Harlem, NY and is thrilled to be a part of this production of Regina Taylor’s Crowns. She most recently appeared in the Attic Theater Company’s World Premier of Jericho (Mrs. Mosca). Broadway credits include the revival of Pippin (Astaire Award nomination, ACCA Award), Chicago (Velma Kelly), Thoroughly Modern Millie (Muzzy Van Hossmere), Fosse (Leading Player), Smokey Joe’s Cafe (Brenda), A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum (Gymnasia), and Jelly’s Last Jam (The Hunnies). Regional credits include Newsies (Medda Larkin), The Odyssey (Circe), Nine (Liliane LaFleur), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Dussie Mae). TV credits include Law & Order: SVU and HBO’s Oz. Her CD, Now’s The Time To Fall In Love, is available on Amazon.com. @lapope64

Danielle K. Thomas
Mabel
Danielle is so excited be part of this production, with this amazing team! She is here “on loan” from her residence at New World Stages in Avenue Q, as Gary Coleman! She was also recently at Paper Mill as “Mrs. Corry” in Mary Poppins. Broadway/off Broadway: Avenue Q, 1st & National/European Tour: Avenue Q, Hair, Cinderella. Europe: Little Shop of Horrors, Jesus Christ Superstar. Regional: Caroline, or Change; Seussical; Crowns; Big River. Film/TV: Crooklyn, Pop Foul, (Bend Film Festival Best Actress) Rescue Me, Smash, NYC 22, The Michael J. Fox Show, The Affair, Deadbeat, Benders, Jessica Jones. Broadway Inspirational Voices soprano choir member and Outreach Coordinator! Thanks Telsey & Co. and TKO Agency.

Dianne McIntyre
Choreographer
McCarter: Polk County. Broadway: Joe Turner’s Come and Gone; Mule Bone; King Hedley III. NY and Regional: NY Public Theater, New Federal Theatre, Negro Ensemble Company, Crossroads Theatre Company, Arena Stage, Center Stage, Karamu House, Dallas Theater Center, Cleveland Play House, Theater of the First Amendment, Goodman Theatre, Alley Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Mark Taper Forum, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Berkeley Rep, Huntington Theatre, and others. Concert dance: Joyce Theater, NY City Center, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, and international dance tours. Awards: 2016 Doris Duke Artist Award, Guggenheim Fellowship, Helen Hayes Award, 2 AUDELCO Awards, numerous NEA grants. Film/TV: Beloved; Fun Size; Langston Hughes: The Dream Keeper; Miss Evers’ Boys (Emmy nomination). Creator/Director: Open the Door, Virginia!; I Could Stop on a Dime and Get Ten Cents Change. www.diannemcintyre.com

Jaret Landon
Music Director/Original Composition
Jaret is honored to serve as Music Director and Composer for McCarter’s production of Crowns. He is a film composer, music director, and vocal arranger. Favorite theater credits include Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill (Stage 773 | Chicago, IL), Black Odyssey (Denver Center Theatre Company), and the pre-Broadway run of Born For This (The Broad Stage | Los Angeles). Jaret served as Assistant Orchestrator for Seasons 14 and 15 of Fox’s American Idol. Love and Light to all! Social Media: @jaretlandon

Diedre Murray
Original Composition and Arrangements
Diedre is an innovative composer, musician, producer and curator. From the 1970’s through early 90’s, she pioneered the use of the cello as a jazz music instrument. She is a Pulitzer Prize Finalist for the chamber opera Running Man and a two-time Obie winner for Running Man and for Eli’s Comin’. She’s collaborated extensively with Music Theatre Group and Diane Paulus. Works include Running Man, Fangs, Best of Both Worlds and You Don’t Miss the Water. She wrote the arrangements for the Tony® Award winning The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. Additionally Ms. Murray has composed for pieces written and/or produced by Lynn Nottage, Carl Hancock Rux, Kathryn Walker, Cornelius Eady, The Roots, Blondell Cummings, Risa Jaroslaw and Marcus Gardley, among others.

Chesney Snow
Original Composition
Drama Desk Award-winning Brooklyn based theatre artist and songwriter. Recently originated the role of Boxman on Broadway’s In Transit. Considered a pioneering figure in American beatbox culture he founded the American Beatbox Championships and executive produced the documentary American Beatboxer which was placed in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Harvard University Hip Hop archives. He twice headlined Carnegie Hall with DCINY and has collaborated on stage as a beatboxer with many legendary artists including KRS One and Nile Rogers, and has opened for artists such as MC Lyte, Snoop Dogg, and Immortal Technique. His critically acclaimed autobiographical show The Unwritten Law, directed by Rebecca Arends, is being presented in Dixon Place Theatre’s 2018 production season. National tour: Vocalosity. Select NY credits: Burn This, Golden Boy, Antigone.

Caite Hevner
Set Design
Broadway: In Transit. Off Broadway/New York: Derren Brown: Secret, Atlantic Theater Company; Discord, Primary Stages; Ugly Lies the Bone, Roundabout Underground; Tail! Spin!, Lynn Redgrave Theater; My Mother Has 4 Noses, The Duke on 42nd Street; Who’s Your Baghdaddy, St. Luke’s Theater/Actor’s Temple; Triassic Parq, Soho Playhouse; Parade, Avery Fisher Hall. Regional: Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Alley Theatre, Alliance Theatre, Arena Stage, Baltimore Center Stage, Barrington Stage Company, Cleveland Play House, Dallas Theater Center, Everyman Theatre, Guthrie Theater, Marin Theatre Company, Northern Stage, Pasadena Playhouse, People’s Light, Playmakers Repertory Company, Round House Theater, Seattle 5th Avenue, Syracuse Stage, Theater J, Williamstown Theatre Festival. Member of Wingspace Theatrical Design. Caite has served as adjunct faculty at Fordham University and Ramapo College. www.caitedesign.com

Emilio Sosa
Costume Design
London: Motown: The Musical, Father Comes Home From the Wars, Topdog Underdog. Broadway: On Your Feet!, Motown: The Musical, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (Tony nom.), Topdog/Underdog. Off-Broadway: By the Way Meet Vera Stark ( Lucille Lortel Award, Drama Desk nom.), Venus, Crowns, Trust, Invisible Thread, Romeo and Juliet, Capeman, The Misantrope, Sex with Strangers. Regional: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Ruined, Señor Discretion Himself ( Helen Hayes nom.), Witness Uganda, Twist (2011 LA Ovation Award), Fences. Radio City Musical Hall Spring Spectaculars, NY Knicks City Dancers, Project Runway, Trustee American Theater Wing. @esosafashion

Bradley King
Lighting Design
Broadway: The Great Comet (Tony, OCC, Drama Desk Awards). Recent Off-Broadway: The Last Match (Roundabout), The Treasurer (Playwrights Horizons), Animal (Atlantic), Hadestown (NYTW; Drama Desk nom.), Empanada Loca (Labyrinth; Drama Desk nom), Every Angel is Brutal (Clubbed Thumb), Preludes (LCT3). Regional: Alley, ART, Berkeley Rep, the Guthrie, Hudson Valley Shakespeare, the Old Globe, South Coast Rep, Williamstown. Opera: Bard Summerscape, Boston Lyric, Boston Early Music, Kentucky Opera, Opera Omaha, Vancouver Opera, Virginia Opera. MFA, NYU. On the web at www.bradleykingld.com