Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Chuck Cooper, Marva Hicks, Carly Hughes, LaChanze, Norm Lewis, J. Bernard Calloway, Forrest McClendon, and J.D. Webster will star in Encores! production of ‘Cabin in the Sky,’ directed by Ruben Santiago‐Hudson, Feb.10-14

 J. Bernard Calloway, Chuck Cooper, Marva Hicks, Carly Hughes, LaChanze, Norm Lewis, Forrest McClendon, and J.D. Webster will star in Vernon Duke and John Latouche’s jazz‐filled fable Cabin in the Sky, running for seven performances at City Center from February 10—14, as part of New York City Center’s 2016 Encores! season. The 1940 musical will be directed by Tony Award winner Ruben Santiago‐Hudson with choreography by Camille A. Brown. City Center is located at 131 W 55th St (btwn 6th & 7th)
New York, NY 10019. Click here for tickets and more information.

Originally produced in 1940, Cabin in the Sky followed Porgy and Bess in celebrating African‐American music and dance traditions. The musical tells the story of “Little Joe” Jackson, a charming ne’er‐do‐well who dies in a saloon brawl and is given six months on earth to prove his worth to the Lord’s General (Norm Lewis) and his long‐suffering wife Petunia (LaChanze), while resisting the temptations of the Devil’s Head Man (Chuck Cooper).

The ensemble features Denisha Ballew, Darius Barnes, Chloe Davis, Timothy L. Edwards, Doug Eskew, Carmen Ruby Floyd, André Garner, Nkrumah Gatling, Rebecca L. Hargrove, Bahiyah Hibah, Andrea Jones-Sojola, Jared Joseph, Kristolyn Lloyd, Tiffany Mann, Sydney Morton, Mayte Natalio, Wayne Pretlow, Malaiyka Reid, Devin L. Roberts, Willie Smith III, Jay Staten, Dennis Stowe, Nicholas Ward, and Hollie E. Wright

Duke’s score, featuring the jazz hit “Taking a Chance on Love,” will be restored to its original glory for Encores!, thanks to the generous support of The Joseph S. and Diane H. Steinberg Broadway Musical Restoration Fund. The original orchestrations for Cabin in the Sky no longer exist and will be recreated by Tony Award winner Jonathan Tunick.

Chuck Cooper

Chuck Cooper

Chuck Cooper (The Head Man) has been featured in 13 Broadway shows in every theatrical genre from Shakespeare to musical comedy. He has received a Tony Award, a Lucille Lortel Award, and two Drama Desk Award nominations. TV appearances include House of Cards, Madam Secretary, Nurse Jackie, and Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight.

La Chanz

La Chanz

LaChanze (Petunia Jackson) Broadway: If/Then, The Color Purple (Tony Award), Once on This Island (Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations), Ragtime, Company, and Uptown It’s Hot. Off‐ Broadway: Dessa Rose (Obie Award, Drama Desk Award nomination), The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin (Drama Desk Award nomination), Inked Baby, Baby, From the Mississippi Delta, and Spunk. Encores!: The Wizard and Out of This World. Film: The Help, Side Effects, Breaking Upwards, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Disney’s Hercules, For Love or Money, and Leap of Faith. Television: Handel’s Messiah Rocks (Emmy Award), Lucy, Law & Order: SVU, Sex and the City, New York Undercover, The Cosby Show, Person of Interest, and the HBO miniseries Crime. Her concert “Feeling Good” will tour the US in 2016 and 2017.

Norm Lewis. Photo by Lia Chang

Norm Lewis. Photo by Lia Chang

Norm Lewis (The Lord’s General) made history in 2014 as the first African‐American Phantom in Broadway’s The Phantom of the Opera, and was recently seen on PBS in “Live from Lincoln Center: Show Boat” with Vanessa Williams. His Broadway credits include The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess (Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations), Sondheim on Sondheim, The Little Mermaid, Les Misérables, Chicago, Amour, The Wild Party, Side Show, Miss Saigon, and The Who’s Tommy. Off‐Broadway: Dessa Rose (Drama Desk Award nomination), The Tempest, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Captains Courageous, and A New Brain. Mr. Lewis’ film and TV credits include Winter’s Tale, Sex and the City 2, Magnum Opus (upcoming), Chicago Med, Gotham, The Blacklist, and his recurring role as Senator Edison Davis on Scandal. Solo album: This is the Life.

Ruben Santiago-Hudson. Photo by Lia Chang

Ruben Santiago-Hudson. Photo by Lia Chang

Ruben Santiago‐Hudson (Director) recently directed the world premieres of Paradise Blue at Williamstown Theater Festival and his own Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine at Two River Theater. Other directing credits include The Piano Lesson (Obie and Lucille Lortel Awards); The Happiest Song Plays Last at Second Stage; and My Children! My Africa!, Seven Guitars, and The First Breeze of Summer, all at Signature. His screenplay adaptation of his autobiographical play Lackawanna Blues received Emmy, Golden Globe, and WGA Award nominations. As an actor, Mr. Santiago‐Hudson is the recipient of a Tony Award and an Obie Award, among others. This season he will direct the world premiere of Dominique Morriseau’s Skeleton Crew at the Atlantic Theater Company. He spent several seasons on the TV series Castle and currently costars on TNT’s Public Morals.

Camille A. Brown (Choreography) Broadway: A Streetcar Named Desire. Off‐Broadway: The Fortress of Solitude (DTC and The Public Theater) and tick, tick…BOOM! (Encores! Off‐Center). Regional: Stagger Lee (DTC) and Marcus Gardley’s THE BOX: A Black Comedy. Commissions: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ballet Memphis, Hubbard Street II, and Complexions. Fashion: New York Fashion Week (2008). Company: Camille A. Brown & Dancers. Awards: 2015 USA Fellow, 2015 Doris Duke Artist Award, 2015 TED Fellow, 2014 City Center Choreography Fellow, 2014 Bessie Award for Outstanding Production, and Princess Grace Award for Choreography.

New York City Center gratefully acknowledges the Encores! Season Sponsors, Stacey and Eric Mindich, Nathalie and Pablo Salame, The Shubert Foundation, and the Stephanie and Fred Shuman Fund for Encores!. Support for Cabin in the Sky is made possible by the Joseph S. and Diane H. Steinberg Charitable Trust. The score restoration for Cabin in the Sky is made possible by The Joseph S. and Diane H. Steinberg Broadway Musical Restoration Fund.

NEW YORK CITY CENTER (Arlene Shuler, President & CEO) has played a defining role in the cultural life of the city since 1943. It was Manhattan’s first performing arts center, dedicated by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia with a mission to make the best in music, theater, and dance accessible to all audiences. Today, City Center is home to many distinguished companies, including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, City Center’s Principal Dance Company, as well as Manhattan Theatre Club; a roster of renowned national and international visiting artists; and its own critically acclaimed and popular programs. The Tony‐ honored Encores! musical theater series has been hailed as “one of the very best reasons to be alive in New York.” In summer 2013, City Center launched Encores! Off‐Center, a series that features landmark Off‐ Broadway musicals filtered through the lens of today’s most innovative artists. Dance has been integral to the theater’s mission from the start — and dance programs, including the annual Fall for Dance Festival, remain central to City Center’s identity. Vital partnerships with arts organizations including Jazz at Lincoln Center and London’s Sadler’s Wells Theatre enhance City Center’s programmatic offerings. City Center brings dance and musical theater to over 9,000 New York City students each year through its robust education program, and other learning opportunities are offered to seniors, families, and the general public. City Center is expanding its programming beyond the proscenium and activating its alternative spaces with pre‐show talks, master classes, exhibitions of visual art, and intimate performances that give an up‐close look at the work of the great theater and dance artists of our time. In October 2011, City Center completed an extensive renovation project to revitalize and modernize its historic theater.

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

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 Examiner.comJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

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

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