I’ll be celebrating Center Stage’s opening night performance of Marcus Gardley’s dance of the holy ghosts on Wednesday, October 16, 2013, with veteran stage and screen stars Denise Burse and Michael Genet at Center Stage, 700 North Calvert Street in Baltimore, Maryland. Helmed by Center Stage Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah, dance of the holy ghosts began previews on October 9, and performances will continue through November 17. Tickets start at $19 and can be purchased by calling 410.332.0033, or visiting www.centerstage.org.
Check out preview photos from rehearsal (© Callan Silver) and the production (© Richard Anderson) below.
Marcus Gardley’s acclaimed play, dance of the holy ghosts, follows the story of Oscar Clifton, a Blues man living through his memories of the past until his estranged grandson Marcus pays a visit. This poetic family drama chronicles their saga through love, regret, and missed opportunities.
Denise Burse, best known for the role of Claretha Jenkins on the hit TBS series Tyler Perry’s “House of Payne,” returns to Center Stage, having previously appeared in August Wilson’s Radio Golf and Fences. Her numerous other film and TV roles include Preaching to the Choir, Basquiat, and “The Sopranos,” and she has performed in dozens of regional theaters throughout the country. Ms. Burse plays Viola, Oscar’s estranged wife.
Broadway and film star Michael Genet takes on the central role of Oscar. Mr. Genet’s many film and TV roles include working with Spike Lee on 25th Hour and She Hate Me, and his numerous Broadway productions include Fences, Lestat, Hamlet, and A Few Good Men. Also a writer, he most recently published a new book, They Must Not Know Who I Think I Am: Lessons’ in Defiant Resilience.
Playing Oscar’s grandson, Marcus, is Sheldon Best, whose regional credits include the U.S. Premiere of Roy Williams’s Sucker Punch at Studio Theatre in Washington, DC. Also in the cast is Chandra Thomas, who has appeared regionally at New York Theatre Workshop, Classical Theatre of Harlem, and the Guthrie, among others; and Jasmine Charmichael, a recent graduate of Rutgers University, who will appear in the upcoming independent film Romeo and Juliet in Harlem. Rounding out the cast is stage veteran Doug Eskew. Mr. Eskew previously appeared in Center Stage’s production of Ain’t Misbehavin’, and his extensive credits include Broadway productions of The Color Purple, Five Guys Named Moe, and Truly Blessed.
Marcus Gardley is an award-winning poet-playwright whose most recent play, Every Tongue Confess, received the Edgerton Foundation New Play Award and was nominated for the Steinberg New Play Award and the Charles MacArthur Award. His many honors include a 2011 PEN/Laura Pels Award, the Gerbode Emerging Playwright Award, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre Award, and the Eugene O’Neill Memorial Scholarship. He is a professor of Playwriting at Brown University, and in 2012 was commissioned to write for Center Stage’s My America. Click here to see the video interview with Marcus Gardley.
dance of the holy ghosts, directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah, has performances at Center Stage, 700 North Calvert Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21202. Center Stage is located in the heart of Baltimore’s historic Mount Vernon Cultural District, just two blocks east of the iconic Washington Monument and 10 blocks north of Harborplace. Tickets start at $19 and can be purchased by calling 410.332.0033, or visiting www.centerstage.org. Full information on the season can be found at www.centerstage.org/2013-14season.
Denise Burse-(Viola) Center Stage: Fences (Rose) (dir. Donald Douglas), Radio Golf (Mame)(dir. Kenny Leon). Broadway/Lincoln Center- Wendy Wasserstein’s An American Daughter (dir. Daniel Sullivan). Off Broadway: Ohio Theatre: Eisa Davis’ Angela’s Mixtape; Classical Stage Company: Don Juan of Seville; American Place Theatre: Ground People (Theatre World Award, Audelco Nom.); Cherry Lane Theatre: Harriet’s Return; Negro Ensemble Company: Hannah Davis; New Federal Theatre: Bill Harris’ Robert Johnson: Trick the Devil (Audelco/Best Actress Award). Tours- Radio Golf (Pre-Broadway, Center Stage, Mark Taper Forum, Seattle Rep); Regional-The Kennedy Center: Pearl Cleage’s Flyin’ West w/ Ruby Dee; Cincinnati Playhouse, Geva: Charles Randolph Wright’s Blue; Illusion Theater: Miss Evers’ Boys; Cleveland Playhouse: African Company Presents Richard III; Fences; Seattle Rep: The Piano Lesson (dir. Lloyd Richards); True Colors Theatre Company/NBAF: James Baldwin’s The Amen Corner; Alliance Theatre: The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars (dir. Kenny Leon). Workshop: New York Stage and Film/Powerhouse: Marcus Gardley’s The House That Will Not Stand (dir. Marion McClinton). Film/TV- Claretha Jenkins on Tyler Perry’s “House of Payne” (2011 NAACP Award recipient for Outstanding Comedy Series), Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding (dir. Bruce Beresford), Preaching to the Choir, Funny Valentines (BET/STARZ), All the “Law and Orders,” “Third Watch,” “100 Centre Street”. This show is dedicated to my late Aunt Viola.
Under the leadership of playwright, actor, and director Kwame Kwei-Armah OBE (Artistic Director) and national arts leader Stephen Richard (Managing Director), Center Stage is an artistically driven institution committed to engaging, entertaining, and enriching audiences of today and tomorrow through joyous and bold performance. The professional, nonprofit theater company is dedicated to the creation and presentation of a dynamic and diverse array of new and classic work, and each year hosts an audience of more than 100,000 in its historic home in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood. With its signature focus on civic and community engagement, Center Stage, The State Theater of Maryland, enters its second 50 years with a commitment to exploring how art and entertainment communicate in the 21st century, and to igniting conversation in Baltimore and beyond.
Center Stage is supported by a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC), an agency dedicated to cultivating a vibrant cultural community where the arts thrive. An agency of the Department of Business & Economic Development, the MSAC provides financial support and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations, units of government, colleges, and universities for arts activities. Funding for the MSAC is also provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. Maryland Public Television is a Media Partner for Center Stage’s 2013-14 Season.
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