Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Two-time Tony Nominee André De Shields, Rachel Leslie, Billy Eugene Jones, Stephanie Berry, Wayne T. Carr, Danny Johnson and Antoinette Crowe-Legacy Set for Timothy Douglas Helmed SEVEN GUITARS at Yale Rep, Nov. 25-Dec. 17

seven-guitars-1Seven Guitars the achingly soulful play by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson, who premiered six of his plays at Yale Rep over the course of three decades-will receive its first professional Connecticut production at Yale Rep, directed by Timothy Douglas, director of the Rep’s world premiere of Wilson’s Radio Golf in 2005. Previews begin on Friday, November 25th and continue through Saturday, December 17th. Opening night is Thursday, December 1st.  Yale Rep is located at 1120 Chapel Street in New Haven, CT. Tickets for August Wilson’s SEVEN GUITARS range from $12-99 and are available online at, by phone at (203) 432-1234, and in person at the Yale Rep Box Office (1120 Chapel Street). Student, senior, and group rates are also available.

The cast of Seven Guitars includes two-time Tony nominee André De Shields as Hedley, Rachel Leslie as Vera, Billy Eugene Jones as Floyd, Stephanie Berry as Louise, Wayne T. Carr as Canewell, Danny Johnson as Red Carter and Antoinette Crowe-Legacy as Ruby.

Monday, October 24, 2016: third day of Yale Rep's SEVEN GUITARS rehearsal. Left to right: Billy Eugene Jones (Floyd); Stephanie Berry (Louise); Wayne T. Carr (Canewell); Danny Johnson (Red Carter); Timothy Douglas (Director); Antoinette Crowe-Legacy (Ruby); André De Shields (Hedley) and Rachel Leslie (Vera). Photo by Helen Irene Muller

Monday, October 24, 2016: third day of Yale Rep’s SEVEN GUITARS rehearsal. Left to right: Billy Eugene Jones (Floyd); Stephanie Berry (Louise); Wayne T. Carr (Canewell); Danny Johnson (Red Carter); Timothy Douglas (Director); Antoinette Crowe-Legacy (Ruby); André De Shields (Hedley) and Rachel Leslie (Vera). Photo by Helen Irene Muller

Pittsburgh, 1948. Following the untimely death of Floyd “Schoolboy” Barton, a local blues guitarist on the edge of stardom, friends grapple with his legacy. The fifth chapter in August Wilson’s epic Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning cycle, Seven Guitars strikes moving chords of the African American experience in the 20th century: faith, artistry, humor, oppression, brutality, and love.

The creative team includes music director Dwight Andrews, scenic designer Fufan Zhang, costume designer An-Lin Dauber, lighting designer Carolina Ortiz Herrera, composer/sound designer Fan Zhang, technical director Ian Hannan, dialect coach Ron Carlos, fight director Rick Sordelet, wig designer, dramaturg Catherine Rodriguez, casting director Tara Rubin Casting, stage manager Helen Muller and assistant stage manager Bianca Hooi.

André De Shields Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields
Photo by Lia Chang

In a career spanning forty-seven years, André De Shields has distinguished himself as an unparalleled actor, director, choreographer and educator. Seven Guitars marks his second collaboration with Timothy Douglas, the first having been as “Stool Pigeon” in August Wilson’s King Hedley II. He is a Beinecke Fellow at Yale School of Drama this season. De Shields 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 Mr. De Shields’ professional career began at Chicago’s Shubert Theatre, now the Bank of America 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. Recent projects include creating the role of Ron in the Broadway bound musical Gotta Dance at the Bank or America Theatre in Chicago; appearing as Cardinal Gremio, Curtis and Vincentio in the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s production of The Taming of the Shrew featuring an all-male cast; WOZ: A Rock Cabaret  and his self-penned CONFESSIONS OF A P.I.M.P. at Victory Gardens Theater. His numerous accolades include an Emmy Award for the NBC Special based on Ain’t Misbehavin’, the 2007 Village Voice OBIE Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance, the 2009 National Black Theatre Festival’s Living Legend Award, a 2012 Fox Foundation Fellowship in Distinguished Achievement, Florida Atlantic University’s 2014 Making Waves Award, the Theatre School at DePaul University 2015 Award for Excellence in the Arts, the Riant Theatre’s 2016 Pioneer of the Arts Award, the Black Theatre Network’s 2016 Winona Lee Fletcher Award, nine AUDELCO Awards. 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.

August Wilson (Playwright) authored Gem of the Ocean, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars, Fences, Two Trains Running, Jitney, King Hedley II, and Radio Golf. These works explore the heritage and experience of the descendants of Africans in North America, decade-by-decade, over the course of the twentieth century. His work garnered Pulitzer Prizes for Fences (1987) and The Piano Lesson (1990), a Tony Award for Fences, Great Britain’s Olivier Award for Jitney, and eight New York Drama Critics Circle Awards. The cast recording of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom received a 1985 Grammy Award, and The Piano Lesson received a 1995 Emmy nomination. He received Rockefeller and Guggenheim Fellowships in Playwriting, the Whiting Writers Award, 2003 Heinz Award, 1999 National Humanities Medal from the President of the United States, numerous honorary degrees from colleges and universities, and the only high school diploma ever issued by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. He was an alumnus of New Dramatists, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a 1995 inductee into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The Broadway theatre located at 245 West 52nd Street was renamed the August Wilson Theatre on October 16, 2005. He is survived by his two daughters, Sakina Ansari and Azula Carmen Wilson, and his wife, costume designer Constanza Romero.

Timothy Douglas (Director) directed the world premiere of August Wilson’s Radio Golf at Yale Rep and earned his MFA in Acting from Yale School of Drama. Recent credits include Disgraced, King Hedley II (Arena Stage); Father comes Home from the Wars Parts 1, 2, & 3, Two Trains Running (Roundhouse Theatre); the world premiere of Rajiv Joseph’s The Lake Effect (Silk Road Rising; Jeff Award: Best New Work); and the Off-Broadway production of Bronte: A Portrait of Charlotte. He is currently an Associate Artist at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, where he has directed Mothers and Sons, The Trip to Bountiful, Clybourne Park, The North Pool, Buzzer, and the world premiere of Safe House. For three seasons he served as Associate Artistic Director at Actors Theatre of Louisville, where he directed a dozen productions including three Humana Festival premieres. He has directed projects for American Conservatory Theater, Guthrie Theater, Berkeley Rep, South Coast Rep, Steppenwolf, Playmakers Rep, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Downstage (New Zealand), Nationaltheatret (Norway), among many others; served as a Director-in-Residence at Center Theatre Group and New Dramatists as well as on the faculties of ACT, UNC School of the Arts, USC, New Zealand Drama School and Emerson College.

Seven Guitars is the first of Yale Rep’s two 2016–17 WILL POWER! productions. The run includes 10:15AM performances on December 13 and 15, 2016, available only to high school groups. For information on WILL POWER! performances, please contact Roger-Paul Snell at

André De Shields’ CONFESSIONS OF A P.I.M.P. at Victory Gardens- Tech to Closing Night 

Black Theatre Network Honors CONFESSIONS OF A P.I.M.P. Star André De Shields

Video: Two-time Tony Nominee and Emmy Award Winner André De Shields in CONFESSIONS OF A P.I.M.P. at Victory Gardens, Aug. 26-28

Production Photos and Video: WOZ: A ROCK CABARET with Guest Star André De Shields at Victory Gardens through 7/17

André De Shields and Mathilde Mukantabana, Ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda to the United States of America, “Celebrate Rwanda” at The SUNY Global Center 

Two-time Tony Nominee André De Shields and Ambassador Mathilde Mukantabana featured in Celebrate Rwanda! Event at The SUNY Global Center on June 29

STC’s THE TAMING OF THE SHREW Opening Night with André De Shields, Maulik Pancholy, Telly Leung, Oliver Thornton and More

Photos: Santino Fontana, André De Shields, John Larroquette, Nikki Renée Daniels, Bryce Pinkham, John Behlmann, Christiane Noll and More in New York City Center’s Encores! 1776 

Closing Night Party of Encores! 1776 with André De Shields, Santino Fontana, John Larroquette, Nikki Renée Daniels, Bryce Pinkham, Ann Harada at New York City Center 

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.

Lia Chang_photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang_photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. 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 Jade Magazine and

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