Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Lia Chang Photos: John Earl Jelks, DeWanda Wise, Harvey Gardner Moore, André De Shields at Dominique Morisseau’s Sunset Baby

Sunset Baby castmember John Earl Jelks, Lia Chang and André De Shields after the first preview of Sunset Baby at Bank Street Theater in New York on November 6, 2013. Photo by DeWanda Wise

Sunset Baby castmember John Earl Jelks, Lia Chang and André De Shields after the first preview of Sunset Baby at Bank Street Theater in New York on November 6, 2013. Photo by DeWanda Wise

Two time Tony Award nominee and Emmy winner André De Shields and I caught the first preview of Labyrinth’s American Premiere of Sunset Baby by Dominique Morisseau, starring Tony Nominee John Earl Jelks (Radio Golf), Dewanda Wise and Harvey Gardner Moore on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at Bank Street Theater, 155 Bank Street in New York. Performances continue through December 8, with opening night set for Friday, November 22, 2013. Kamilah Forbes directs.

Harvey Gardner Moore and DeWanda Wise. Photo by Monique Carboni.

Harvey Gardner Moore and DeWanda Wise. Photo by Monique Carboni.

John Earl Jelks. Photo by Monique Carboni.

John Earl Jelks. Photo by Monique Carboni.

East New York, Brooklyn. Nina’s estranged father, a former black revolutionary, reappears to obtain a piece of her deceased Mother’s legacy. A powerful and honest story of one woman’s journey from a brutal existence to her own liberation, Sunset Baby is an energetic, daring look at the point where the personal and political collide.

The Sunset Baby creative team includes Amatus (Composer and Sound Designer), ESOSA (Costume Design), Jen Schriever (Lighting Design), and Lee Savage (Scenic Design).

Tickets for Sunset Baby are $35. In an effort to make great theater accessible to all New Yorkers, Labyrinth offers the Labpass, which gives audiences access to all of Labyrinth’s programming in their 2013/14 Season starting at just $99. To purchase a Labpass, and to find more information on the Season, please visit www.labtheater.org. A conversation with the cast of Sunset Baby.

Sunset Baby castmember John Earl Jelks and playwright Dominique Morisseau. Photo by Lia Chang

Sunset Baby castmember John Earl Jelks and playwright Dominique Morisseau. Photo by Lia Chang

John Earl Jelks (Kenyatta) was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance as Sterling Johnson in August Wilson’s Radio Golf. Jelks made his Broadway debut opposite Phylicia Rashad in August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean as Citizen, directed by Kenny Leon (after runs at the Goodman, Huntington and Mark Taper, where he won a NAACP Theatre Award and an L.A. Ovation Award). In 2008, Jelks garnered an AUDELCO Award for his role as Harper Edwards in the Off-Broadway revival of Leslie Lee’s The First Breeze of Summer, directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson. Jelks also appeared Off-Broadway in MCC’s production of Neil LaBute’s The Break of Noon with David Duchovny, Amanda Peet and Tracee Chimo, directed by Jo Bonney. Regional theatre credits include Regina Taylor’s Magnolia with Annette O’Toole at the Goodman Theatre, the world stage premiere of The Shawshank Redemption at the Gaiety Theatre in Ireland; Two Trains Running at Two River Theater Company; August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone at the Penumbra Theatre Company and Missouri Repertory Theatre. Film and TV credits include Snap; The Miraculous, The Miracle at St. Anna, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” and “Blue Bloods”. Jelks recently appeared Off-Broadway in Will Power’s Fetch Clay, Make Man, with Nikki M. James, Richard Masur, K. Todd Freeman and Ray Fisher, directed by Des McAnuff at New York Theatre Workshop. NYTW Production Photos of Fetch Clay, Make Man: Ray Fisher, Nikki M. James, John Earl Jelks, K. Todd Freeman

Sunset Baby castmembers Harvey Gardner Moore, DeWanda Wise and John Earl Jelks after the first preview of Sunset Baby at Bank Street Theater in New York on November 6, 2013. Photo by Lia Chang

Sunset Baby castmembers Harvey Gardner Moore, DeWanda Wise and John Earl Jelks after the first preview of Sunset Baby at Bank Street Theater in New York on November 6, 2013. Photo by Lia Chang

Harvey Gardner Moore (Damon) Film: A Day in the Life of Ageless Shaman: Love Documented (Starring/Writer/Director/Editor/Producer) Chronicles HGM making a film/learning filmmaking in 13 days. Slow Collaboration (Starring/Co-writer) with Darius Clark Monroe (Director) HBO Film Festival Winner. Theatre: Broken Healer (Starring/Writer/Director/Producer) Hip Hop Suicide Prevention Piece Chronicling HGM overcoming Suicide Ideation due to the stroke of his father. HIP HOP Albums: “Ageless Jackson: The Album/Short Film”, at Lincoln Center drummer Ali Jackson (Drums). “Induction”, “Dark side of the Light”, “Love Documented” inspired by the feature film. Upcoming films: Year of Our Lord Collaboration (starring) with Darius Clark Monroe (director) playing a transgender woman in this film about the Second Coming of Christ. Moments of Humanity: The play/film fusion Collaboration (Starring/Writer/Director/Producer) John Eisner of The Lark Theater. Dark Side of the Light, Harlem Love Story. Yale Drama School.

DeWanda Wise and André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

DeWanda Wise and André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

DeWanda Wise (Nina) NY Theater: Sundown Name and Night-Gone Things (Negro Ensemble Company, NY) As it Is In Heaven (3 Graces) Electra (Tisch) Regional: Flight (City Theatre, Pittsburgh) In the Continuum (Playmakers, Chapel Hill) Film: Spinning into Butter, Queen of Media, African Booty Scratcher, & Precious: Based on a Novel by Sapphire. TV: “MOW Firelight,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “Criminal Intent, SVU,” “The Good Wife,” “The Unusuals,” and “Gamekillers” for MTV. Upcoming projects include indie film Knucklehead with Gbenga Akinnagbe and Alfre Woodard; and My Manz with Jamie Hector. BFA NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. www.DeWandaWise.com

Dominique Morisseau and André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

Dominique Morisseau and André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

Dominique Morisseau (Playwright). Writer and actress, Dominique is an alum of the Public Theater Emerging Writer’s Group, the Women’s Project Playwrights Lab, and Lark Playwrights Workshop. Among her playwriting credits are: Detroit ’67 (Public Theater; Classical Theatre of Harlem/National Black Theatre), Sunset Baby (Labyrinth Theater Co – NYC; Gate Theater- London), Follow Me To Nellie’s (O’Neill; Premiere Stages). Her produced one-acts include: Third Grade (Fire This Time Festival); Black at Michigan (Cherry Lane Studio/DUTF); Socks, Roses Are Played Out and Love and Nappiness (Center Stage, ATH); love.lies.liberation (The New Group), Bumrush (Hip Hop Theater Festival), and The Masterpiece (Harlem9/HSA). Dominique is currently developing a 3-play cycle on her hometown of Detroit, entitled The Detroit Projects. Detroit ’67 is the first of the series. The second play in the series, Paradise Blue, was developed and/or read with Voice and Vision, the Hansberry Project at ACT, New York Theatre Workshop, McCarter Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and the Public Theater. Dominique’s work has also been published in NY Times bestseller Chicken Soup for the African American Soul, and in the Harlem-based literary journal “Signifyin’ Harlem” She is a Jane Chambers Playwriting Award honoree, a two-time NAACP Image Award recipient, a runner-up for the Princess Grace Award, a recipient of the Elizabeth George commission from South Coast Rep, a commendation honoree for the Primus Prize by the American Theatre Critics Association, winner of the Barrie and Bernice Stavis Playwriting Award and the Weissberger Award for Playwriting, the U of M – Detroit Center Emerging Leader Award, and a PoNY (Playwrights of New York) Fellow. She is an artist that believes wholeheartedly in the power and strength of community.

John Earl Jelks, DeWanda Wise, playwright Dominique Morisseau, Harvey Gardner Moore and director Kamilah Forbes after the first preview of Sunset Baby at Bank Street Theater in New York on November 6, 2013. Photo by Lia Chang

John Earl Jelks, DeWanda Wise, playwright Dominique Morisseau, Harvey Gardner Moore and director Kamilah Forbes after the first preview of Sunset Baby at Bank Street Theater in New York on November 6, 2013. Photo by Lia Chang

Kamilah Forbes (Director). Most recent credits include: Broadway: The Mountaintop and Stickfly (Associate Director). Welcome to Nellie’s by Dominique Morrisseau (Classical Theater of Harlem, Reading), Nannyland by Radha Blank (Public Theater, Reading), Saturday Night/Sunday Morning by Katori Hall (Lincoln Center Theater Lab Reading series), The Mountaintop by Katori Hall (Lark Theater, barebones production), Journey to the door of no return by Psalmayene 24 (Arena Stage, workshop), Children of Children Keep Coming (Columbia University), Beauty, the Beast (Dance Mission, San Francisco), And Her Hair Went With Her by Zina Camblin (c). Most recently she directed National Poetry Slam Champion Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s multi-disciplinary dance theater piece SCOURGE. Scourge toured to Rotterdam, Brussels, Boston, DC, 651 arts (NYC), and was premiered at the Yerba Buena Center for the arts in San Francisco. Other credits include: assistant director for Tony Award winning Def Poetry Jam on Broadway, Masquerade by solo spoken word artist Roger Bonair–Agard, Rhyme Deferred which she conceived and co-wrote presented at The Kennedy Center, Arena Stage, PS122, New York Theater Workshop, and Undermain Theater. Other directing credits include: No Man’s Land (ODC Theater, San Francisco), Nightmares of JuJubee (The Lincoln Theater DC, PS122, NYC). She recently received the 2011 JOSEPHINE ABADY award from the League of Professional Women in theater for excellence in the theater and is a member of the Leadership Board with the Women’s Project.

Lia Chang. Photo by Brianne Michelle Photography

Lia Chang. Photo by Brianne Michelle Photography

Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia recently starred as Carole Barbara in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C., with Pauletta Pearson Washington, Roscoe Orman, Lorey Hayes, Marcus Naylor and Phynjuar.

Other articles on John Earl Jelks:
Nov. 6 – Dec. 8: Tony Nominee John Earl Jelks, Dewanda Wise and Harvey Gardner Moore Star in Labyrinth’s American Premiere of Sunset Baby by Dominique Morisseau at Bank Street Theater
Photos: Opening Night of Will Power’s Fetch Clay, Make Man with John Earl Jelks, Richard Masur, Nikki M. James, K. Todd Freeman, Ray Fisher
NYTW Production Photos of Fetch Clay, Make Man: Ray Fisher, Nikki M. James, John Earl Jelks, K. Todd Freeman
Fetch Clay, Make Man Starring Ray Fisher, Nikki M. James, John Earl Jelks, K.Todd Freeman and Richard Masur Opens September 12, 2013
John Earl Jelks, Richard Masur, Ray Fisher, Nikki M. James, K.Todd Freeman and More Set for Fetch Clay, Make Man at NYTW, August 23 – October 13, 2013
Photos: Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Phylicia Rashad, John Earl Jelks, Leslie Uggams, Anthony Chisholm, S. Epatha Merkerson, Taraji P. Henson, Jesse L. Martin, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Kenny Leon and More Set for August Wilson American Century Cycle Recording Series at The Greene Space in NY, Aug. 26-Sept. 28, 2013
Photos: All-Access Pass to August Wilson’s Two Trains Running with John Earl Jelks, Harvy Blanks, Chuck Cooper, Anthony Chisholm, Owiso Odera, Roslyn Ruff and James A. Williams
Jelks, Blanks, Chisholm, Cooper, Odera, Ruff and Williams Set for Two Trains Running, Directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson at Two River Theater Company, February 2 – March 3, 2013
Geffen Playhouse Production Photos of Neil LaBute’s The Break of Noon starring Kevin Anderson, Tracee Chimo, Catherine Dent and John Earl Jelks Kevin Anderson, Catherine Dent, Tracee Chimo, John Earl Jelks in Neil La Bute’s The Break of Noon at the Geffen
Photos: David Duchovny, John Earl Jelks, Amanda Peet,Tracee Chimo opening night of Neil LaBute’s The Break of Noon John Earl Jelks is featured in MCC Theater’s world premiere of Neil LaBute’s The Break of Noon at the Lucille Lortel
Denise Burse, Rocky Carroll, Anthony Chisholm, John Earl Jelks and James A. Williams in Radio Golf by August Wilson at The Pearlstone Theater in Baltimore

Other articles by Lia Chang:
Photos: Christine Toy Johnson, Baayork Lee, Jose Llana, Ann Harada, Dodie Pettit and More at Charles Randolph-Wright’s “Three Voices” concert series at Stage 72
Nov. 25: David Byrne and the Cast of Public Theater’s HERE LIES LOVE including Jose Llana, Ruthie Ann Miles, Conrad Ricamora, Melody Butiu and More to Host Benefit Concert for the Philippines at Terminal 5
Photos: John Earl Jelks, DeWanda Wise, Harvey Gardner Moore, André De Shields at Dominique Morisseau’s Sunset Baby
Photos: André De Shields, Michael Shannon, Rajiv Joseph, Christine Sherrill, Doug Peck, Alexis J. Rogers, Karen Ziemba and More Celebrate 2013 Jeff Equity Awards
Photo Call: Derek Walcott’s Marie Laveau Photos: Denise Burse, Michael Genet, Doug Eskew, Tracie Thoms, Sakina Ansari-Wilson and More Celebrate Marcus Gardley’s dance of the holy ghosts Opening Night at Center Stage
Center Stage Photo Preview: Denise Burse and Michael Genet in Marcus Gardley’s dance of the holy ghosts, Opens October 16, 2013
Nov. 14 – Dec. 29: Paolo Montalban and Eileen Ward Lead Cast of Olney Theatre Center’s Production of The King and I
Nov. 18: David Henry Hwang, Annie Baker and Rajiv Joseph to be honored at Sixth Annual Steinberg Playwright “Mimi” Awards
André De Shields Delivers Keynote at International Conference of Fine Arts Deans in New Orleans Signature Theatre’s World Premiere of David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu Stars SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE’s Cole Horibe as Bruce Lee
National Black Theatre Festival Photos: Backstage with André De Shields, Marie Thomas, Erin Cherry, Sean Phillips and Morocco Omari in Knock Me A Kiss
Photos: André De Shields, Mary Zimmerman, Akash Chopra, Richard M. Sherman, Kevin Carolan, Larry Yando, Nehal Joshi and More Celebrate The Jungle Book Opening Night at Huntington Theatre in Boston
Spend an Evening with Tony Winner Nikki M. James at Joe’s Pub on October 21, 2013
Oct. 5-Nov. 17: LTC3/Lincoln Center Theater’s World Premiere of JC Lee’s LUCE Features Olivia Oguma, Marin Hinkle, Neal Huff, Okieriete Onaodowan and Sharon Washington
Photos: Backstage Q & A with Thom Sesma and the cast of Signature’s Miss Saigon
Photos: Backstage with Michi Barall and the cast of Regina Taylor’s stop.reset. at Signature Theatre
Febone1960.net Review: Power Play Powerful & Suspenseful Portraits of New York Chinatown after 9/11
Photos: Denise Burse, Lizan Mitchell, Novella Nelson, Arthur French at Regina Taylor’s stop. reset with LaTanya Richardson Jackson at Signature
Photos: The 58th Annual Drama Desk Awards and After Party
Video: Power Play’s Lorey Hayes and Lia Chang on The Carmen Mathis Show Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive.

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