Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Lia Chang Multimedia: CONFESSIONS OF A P.I.M.P. Opening Night with André De Shields

Doug Peck, Robert Reddrick, André De Shields, Tony Mhoon, Kimberly Lawson and Donica Lynn in CONFESSIONS OF A P.I.M.P. in Victory Gardens' 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays in Chicago on July 16, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Doug Peck, Robert Reddrick, André De Shields, Tony Mhoon, Kimberly Lawson and Donica Lynn in CONFESSIONS OF A P.I.M.P. in Victory Gardens’ 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays in Chicago on July 16, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Two-time Tony nominee André De Shields has had an ongoing love affair with Chicago since making his professional debut at Chicago’s Shubert Theatre in the 1969 production of Hair. He is the recipient of three Jeff Awards, one as Director for Victory Gardens’ 1987 production of The Colored Museum, and two as Featured Performer in a Musical for the Goodman Theatre productions of Play On! (1998) and most recently for his role as King Louie in Mary Zimmerman’s The Jungle Book (2013).

On Thursday night, the Victory Gardens Theater’s Fox Foundation Resident Actor Fellow kicked off the Victory Gardens Theater’s 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays with a bang, debuting his riveting solo show, CONFESSIONS OF A P.I.M.P., at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater in Chicago.

Bassist Tony Mhoon, Kimberly Lawson, André De Shields and Donica Lynn sing "Smile" (Duet for Voice and Bass)‬ in CONFESSIONS OF A P.I.M.P. in Victory Gardens' 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays in Chicago on July 16, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Bassist Tony Mhoon, Kimberly Lawson, André De Shields and Donica Lynn sing “Smile” (Duet for Voice and Bass)‬ in CONFESSIONS OF A P.I.M.P. in Victory Gardens’ 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays in Chicago on July 16, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Written by and starring De Shields, with Samuel G. Roberson at the helm, the cast also featured Kimberly Lawson, Donica Lynn, Tony Mhoon (Bassist), Robert Reddrick (Percussionist) and Doug Peck (piano and musical director).

There was so much love in the sold-out house for De Shields, who through song, dance and spoken word, shared his adventure from inner city impoverishment and urban insurrection in Baltimore, Maryland, to his path of self-actualization in the incandescent glare of New York’s Great White Way.

André De Shields and Wardell Julius Clark at the opening night party of Victory Gardens Theater's 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays in Chicago on July 16, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields and Wardell Julius Clark at the opening night party of Victory Gardens Theater’s 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays in Chicago on July 16, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Actor Wardell Julius Clark (who appeared with De Shields at Victory Gardens in Charles Smith’s The Gospel According to James in 2011) recapped the night on his Facebook page:

“So much fun last night watching the master himself, an American theatre treasure, the broadway living legend, André De Shields in his solo performance of CONFESSIONS OF A P.I.M.P. at the opening night of the ‪#‎IGNITION Festival.

André has that rare star quality that you rarely get in a performer nowadays: its a kind of perfectly poised, exactly executed showmanship and a flat out old school Broadway pizzazz, razzle dazzle, that makes you feel good in your soul. Its why we go to the theatre. Its a kind of acute stage presence,that demands your every attention, that draws you into the man, the performer, and the performance.

Whenever André is performing if you can go, GO! Cheers to Samuel G. Roberson Jr. and the outstanding musicians.”

Robert Reddrick, Doug Peck, André De Shields, Tony Mhoon, Kimberly Lawson and Donica Lynn at the curtain call for CONFESSIONS OF A P.I.M.P. in Victory Gardens' 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays in Chicago on July 16, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Robert Reddrick, Doug Peck, André De Shields, Tony Mhoon, Kimberly Lawson and Donica Lynn at the curtain call for CONFESSIONS OF A P.I.M.P. in Victory Gardens’ 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays in Chicago on July 16, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

The production team includes Dramaturg Isaac Gomez, Stage Manager Cathryn Bulicek, Literary Assistant Talia Weingarten and Costume Design by Austin Pettinger.

SONG LIST

1. BALTIMORE (Music and lyrics: Boxhead Teddy) Ben Sidran: fender rhodes, Leo Sidran: bass, drums, Al Falaschi: solo saxophone, Jon Natchez: saxophones, trumpet, trombone, The Boxers: back-up vocals. Recorded by Leo Sidran.

2. HARLEM (Lyrics: Langston Hughes, Music: André De Shields

3. SMILE (A Duet for Voice and Double Bass) Music and Lyrics: André De Shields, Arrangement: Michael Thurber

4. THE PICTURE SHOW SONG (Music & lyrics: Lamar Alford)

5. SHINE (Music: Ford Dabney, Lyrics: Cecil Mack)

Kimberly Lawson and Donica Lynn in CONFESSIONS OF A P.I.M.P. in Victory Gardens' 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays in Chicago on July 16, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Kimberly Lawson and Donica Lynn in CONFESSIONS OF A P.I.M.P. in Victory Gardens’ 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays in Chicago on July 16, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

6. POPPA WAS A ROLLIN’ STONE (Norman Whitfield & Barrett Strong)

André De Shields, Tony Mhoon and Kimberly Lawson in CONFESSIONS OF A P.I.M.P. in Victory Gardens' 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays in Chicago on July 16, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields, Tony Mhoon and Kimberly Lawson in CONFESSIONS OF A P.I.M.P. in Victory Gardens’ 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays in Chicago on July 16, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

7. HEADS OR TAIL (Music and Lyrics by Dennis Andreopoulos)

8. STREET CORNER SYMPHONY (Music and Lyrics by André De Shields)

9. MARY MACK (Traditional, Adaptation: André De Shields

Donica Lynn and André De Shields in CONFESSIONS OF A P.I.M.P. in Victory Gardens' 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays in Chicago on July 16, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Donica Lynn and André De Shields in CONFESSIONS OF A P.I.M.P. in Victory Gardens’ 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays in Chicago on July 16, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields at the opening night party of Victory Gardens Theater's 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays in Chicago on July 16, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields at the opening night party of Victory Gardens Theater’s 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays in Chicago on July 16, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

10. SWEET LITTLE SIXTEEN (Music & Lyrics: Chuck Berry)

11. ONE MINT JULEP (Music & Lyrics: Rudy Toombs)

12. EVERY LOVES A LOVER (Music: Robert Allen, Lyrics: Richard Adler)

13. YOU AIN’T NOTHIN’ BUT A HOUND DOG (Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller)

14. MAMA SAID (Luther Dixon and Willie Denson)

15. LOVE IN THE MORNING (Steven Lemberg and Kim Larsen)

16. GIMME SOME OF YOUR LOVE (Frederick and Sam Dees)

17. WHITE ROOM (Jack Bruce and Pete Brown)

18. YOU MAKE ME FEEL (MIGHTY REAL) (James Wirrick and Sylvester James)

19. STANDING IN THE NEED OF LOVE (Music and Lyrics by Dennis Andreopoulos)

20. ALSO SPRACH ZARATHURSTRA OP. 30 (Richard Strauss) Performed by the Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra,     Portsmouth, NH

Musical director Doug Peck takes center stage to "conduct" during CONFESSIONS OF A P.I.M.P. in Victory Gardens' 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays in Chicago on July 16, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Musical director Doug Peck takes center stage to “conduct” during CONFESSIONS OF A P.I.M.P. in Victory Gardens’ 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays in Chicago on July 16, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

21. L-O-V-E (Music and Lyrics by André De Shields)

22. NOW IS THE TIME  (Music and Lyrics: Boxhead Teddy) Leo Sidran: all instruments; The Boxettes: back-up vocals. Recorded by Leo Sidran

A Jungle Book reunion for Ed Kross, Doug Peck, André De Shields, Anjali Bhimani, Alka Nayyar and Monique Haley at the opening night party of Victory Gardens Theater's 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays in Chicago on July 16, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

A Jungle Book reunion for Ed Kross, Doug Peck, André De Shields, Anjali Bhimani, Alka Nayyar and Monique Haley at the opening night party of Victory Gardens Theater’s 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays in Chicago on July 16, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

On Sunday, July 19, 2015, De Shields will be featured in a staged reading of Basil Kreimendahl’s Sadie River’s Drag Ball on the Lawn, with Echaka Agba, Chris Chmelik, and Mary Williamson, directed by Bonnie Metzgar at 7:30 p.m.

Synopsis: Sadie River, Mother to The House of River, teaches her unconventional drag family a new performance that she believes will change their lives. Rather than schooling them on gender performance, she attempts to educate her working-poor family in the art of passing as upper-class.

Basil Kreimendahl

Basil Kreimendahl

Basil Kreimendahl is a resident playwright at New Dramatists New York, a current McKnight Fellow at The Minneapolis Playwright’s Center and was the Provost’s Visiting Writer at the University of Iowa. Basil’s play Sidewinders won the Rella Lossy Playwright’s Award from the San Francisco Foundation. The Cost of a Goat won a National Science Award at The Kennedy Center. Basil was commissioned by Actors Theatre of Louisville for Remix 38 in the 2014 Humana Festival of New Plays. Basil’s plays have also been developed or produced by The O’Neill National Playwright’s Conference, La Jolla, Cutting Ball, New York Theatre Workshop, About Face Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Inkwell, Rattlestick Theater, Wordbirdge, Labrynth Theater, The LARK, and The Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Basil has had a Jerome Fellowship and a Core Apprenticeship from the Minneapolis Playwright’s Center, and an Arts Meets Activism grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women. Basil’s work has been published by Howlround, Dramatic Publishing and Playscripts, Inc. MFA University of Iowa, 2013.

André De Shields, Samuel G. Roberson Jr. and Kelvin Roston Jr. at the opening night party of Victory Gardens Theater's 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays in Chicago on July 16, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields, Samuel G. Roberson Jr. and Kelvin Roston Jr. at the opening night party of Victory Gardens Theater’s 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays in Chicago on July 16, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields at the opening night party of Victory Gardens Theater's 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays in Chicago on July 16, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields at the opening night party of Victory Gardens Theater’s 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays in Chicago on July 16, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

In a career spanning forty-six years, André De Shields has distinguished himself as an unparalleled actor, director, choreographer and educator.  He is the recipient of three Jeff Awards, one as Director for Victory Gardens’ 1987 production of The Colored Museum, and two as Featured Performer in a Musical for the Goodman Theatre productions of Play On! (1998) and Mary Zimmerman’s The Jungle Book (2013). In fact André’s professional career began at Chicago’s Shubert Theatre in the 1969 production of Hair.  From there he moved on to The Me Nobody Knows at the Civic Opera House, and ultimately became a member of The Organic Theatre Company, where he created the role of Xander the Unconquerable, Ruler of the Sixth Dimension in the cult sensation Warp. A multiple Tony Award nominee, he is best known for his show-stopping performances in four legendary Broadway musicals: The WizAin’t Misbehavin’Play On! and The Full Monty. His numerous accolades include an Emmy Award for the NBC Special based on Ain’t Misbehavin’, the National Black Theatre Festival’s Living Legend Award, the Village Voice OBIE Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance and two Doctor of Fine Arts degrees honoris causa one each from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the State University of New York-College at Buffalo. A triple Capricorn, Mr. De Shields is the ninth of eleven children born and reared in Baltimore, Maryland. www.andredeshields.com.

Two-time Tony nominee André De Shields, GREY’S ANATOMY star Sandra Oh, Kimberly Lawson, Donica Lynn, Tony Mhoon, Doug Peck, Robert Reddrick, Anjali Bhimani and More set for 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays at Victory Gardens Theater, July 16-19

André De Shields and the Victory Gardens staff at the opening night party of Victory Gardens Theater's 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays in Chicago on July 16, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields and the Victory Gardens staff at the opening night party of Victory Gardens Theater’s 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays in Chicago on July 16, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

For more information about Victory Gardens, www.victorygardens.org. Follow up on Facebook at Facebook.com/victorygardens and Twitter @VictoryGardens.

Samuel G. Roberson, Robert Reddrick, Doug Peck, Andre De Shields, Donica Lynn, Kimberly Lawson, Tony Mhoon during tech for CONFESSIONS OF A P.I.M.P. in Victory Gardens' 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays in Chicago on July 16, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

Samuel G. Roberson, Robert Reddrick, Doug Peck, Andre De Shields, Donica Lynn, Kimberly Lawson, Tony Mhoon during tech for CONFESSIONS OF A P.I.M.P. in Victory Gardens’ 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays in Chicago on July 16, 2015. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields and Lia Chang at the opening night party of Victory Gardens Theater's 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays in Chicago on July 16, 2015. Photo by Talia Weingarten

André De Shields and Lia Chang at the opening night party of Victory Gardens Theater’s 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays in Chicago on July 16, 2015. Photo by Talia Weingarten

Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in FebOne1960.com BlogJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

Other articles about André De Shields:
Broadwayworld.com: Photo Flash: Phylicia Rashad, Andre De Shields & More Original Cast Members from THE WIZ Reunite in Central Park 
Video: André De Shields sings Smile in CONFESSIONS OF A P.I.M.P. in Victory Gardens’ 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays
Video: André De Shields sings Street Corner Symphony and Mary Mack in CONFESSIONS OF A P.I.M.P. in Victory Gardens’ 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays
Photo and Video Preview: Two-time Tony nominee André De Shields Kicks Off Victory Gardens’ 2015 Ignition Festival of New Plays with CONFESSIONS OF A P.I.M.P
Two-time Tony nominee André De Shields, GREY’S ANATOMY star Sandra Oh, Kimberly Lawson, Donica Lynn, Tony Mhoon, Doug Peck, Robert Reddrick, Anjali Bhimani and More set for 2015 IGNITION Festival of New Plays at Victory Gardens Theater, July 16-19
Victory Gardens Theater’s IGNITION Festival of New Plays features new works by Two-time Tony nominee André De Shields, Julia Cho, Minita Gandhi, Basil Kreimendahl, José Rivera, Madhuri Shekar and A. Zell Williams, July 16-19 
Two-Time Tony nominee André De Shields, Tony Winner Lillias White, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK’s Lori Tan Chinn, Stephanie Powers, Georgia Engel & More Will Lead Broadway-Bound Musical GOTTA DANCE in Chicago
tcgcircle.org THE GRAND ILLUSION by ANDRÉ DE SHIELDS in FOX FELLOWSHIPS
Conversations with the Divine with Owais Ahmed, Baize Buzan, Kathryn Cesarz, Kamal Hans, Brian Grey, Donica Lynn, Patrese McClain and Miranda Zola at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater
Photos: André De Shields, Michael Shannon, Rajiv Joseph, Christine Sherrill, Doug Peck, Alexis J. Rogers, Karen Ziemba and More Celebrate 2013 Jeff Equity Awards
Click here for more articles on André De Shields.

Click here  for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.
All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2015 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

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