A Chat with Gabrielle Beckford of “Crowns” at Long Wharf Theatre

A Chat with Gabrielle Beckford of “Crowns” at Long Wharf Theatre

For actress Gabrielle Beckford, starring in “Crowns” is both the start of her professional career and a full circle moment. The recent Rider University graduate grew up in New York City and, while she was involved in all types of art from visual to culinary, her first experience as a performer was singing in church. But after a high school teacher cast in “Hair,” Beckford switched her attention from the pulpit to the proscenium. She started studying voice and dance, eventually completing a BFA in musical theater. It seems to be serendipity that her first professional role after college is in “Crowns,” a gospel-infused play Beckford says hits close to home. To learn more about the show and her experience playing Yolanda, both at McCarter Theatre Center and currently at Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut, I spoke to her over the phone. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

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White Actor Defends Voicing Black Animated Character Because He Grew Up "Urban"

White Actor Defends Voicing Black Animated Character Because He Grew Up "Urban"

On Friday, April 20th, the new "Spy Kids: Mission Critical" animated TV show will launch on Netflix. Based on the popular film series, the show will center on brother-and-sister team Juni and Carmen Cortez. who attend Spy Kids Academy, a top secret spy school for kid agents. When a new counter-spy agency threatens the safety of the world, it will be up to junior spies Juni and Carmen to train and lead a team of fellow Spy Kids cadets against the forces of S.W.A.M.P. (Sinister Wrongdoers Against Mankind's Preservation) and their diabolical leader, Golden Brain. The Mission Critical team may not be ready, but they are the only ones to call when grown-up spies can't do the job.

One of the supporting characters on the show is "Psi". Not much is known about the character other than he seems to be a dapper dresser and is black. The voice actor playing the role, however, is white. Below is an image of the character, Psi and Travis Turner who is voicing him.

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Our 2018 Tony Nominee Predictions for Every Catagory

Our 2018 Tony Nominee Predictions for Every Catagory

Award season is upon us. In the coming weeks and months, a lot of accolades are going to be handed out to Broadway's best. It all leads up to the Tonys on June 10th. 

While some races might be more predictable than others, I feel there are going to be not only some surprises on who takes home an award but also those earning nominations as well. So here are our guesses as to who should expect a call on May 1st. While some of these shows have yet to officially open, the buzz from their previews will most definitely impact the Tony races. These predictions are based on pending eligibility. 

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CT Theatre Professor Under Fire After College Newspaper Uncovers Multiple Allegations of Sexual Misconduct

CT Theatre Professor Under Fire After College Newspaper Uncovers Multiple Allegations of Sexual Misconduct

An investigation by a college newspaper has uncovered that a long-tenured faculty member of its theatre program has been accused by multiple female students of sexual misconduct. Even more, the college knew of the allegations, found the professor had violated sexual harassment policies, yet he is still employed to this day. 

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"Once On This Island" : When Emotions Soar

"Once On This Island" : When Emotions Soar

“I opened a small colorful book I found on the used book shelf”, the charming and erudite Ms. Ahrens told me.  She was immediately bewitched by the novel’s first line: “There is an island where rivers run deep/ Where the sea sparkling in the sun earns it/ The name “Jewel of the Antillies.”

“I thought this is the most beautiful poetry”, Ms. Ahrens remembers.  “It just wants to leap to the music.”  Magically, perhaps, it did.

I recently caught up with Ms. Ahrens by phone to discuss Once On This Island’s path to Broadway, the current revival, and the show’s emotional impact on audiences and cast members. 

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More Accusers Come Forward Against Actor and Voice Teacher Tyce Green

More Accusers Come Forward Against Actor and Voice Teacher Tyce Green

There are new developments in the sexual misconduct allegations against New York City actor and voice teacher, Tyce Green. In the days since initially publishing accounts from multiple young men who claimed Mr. Green sexually harassed and solicited them after using his voice teacher position to initiate contact.

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Actor and Voice Teacher Tyce Green Accused of Sexual Misconduct, Apologizes "I am so deeply sorry"

Actor and Voice Teacher Tyce Green Accused of Sexual Misconduct, Apologizes "I am so deeply sorry"

A prominent theatre performer and voice teacher has admitted to accusations of sexual misconduct by a number of his former students.

Multiple former male students have come forward and reported that actor and voice teacher Tyce Green made sexual advances after working with him during voice lessons when they were teenagers.

In a statement obtained by OnStage Blog, Mr. Green has apologized for his actions calling them "bad choices" that may have hurt people or made them uncomfortable.

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Meet the youngest cast members of "Once on the Island” Vancouver

Meet the youngest cast members of "Once on the Island” Vancouver

Talking with Arta Negahban and Peilani Rasmussen, the two youngest cast members of the production “Once On This Island” directed by Damon Bradley Jang, only solidified my interest in going to see this show Saturday night at the Red Gate Revue Stage on Granville Island! The two young actors are already so mature and gave great insight into what this show will hold for theatre goers of all ages. They describe an emotional show, with themes of self-discovery and independence.

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Springtime Festivities: An Inside Look at the Downtown Urban Arts Festival

Springtime Festivities: An Inside Look at the Downtown Urban Arts Festival

Both as a playwright and as a critic, I frequently get invited to review many shows – and also get chances to present my own plays – in many theatre festivals in New York. Many of these shows that I’ve seen featured in these festivals are a beautiful tribute to the diversity and multiculturalism that is reflected throughout America. However, it’s not every day that I see a festival that not only commits itself to capturing such vibrant diversity through the works that they curate, but also does so through film, music, and poetry, in addition to theatre. Yet over the next five weeks in lower Manhattan, that’s exactly what the Downtown Urban Arts Festival is aiming to achieve.

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“Ravaged But Being Rebuilt” – A Talk with “Once On This Island” Scenic Designer Dane Laffrey

“Ravaged But Being Rebuilt” – A Talk with “Once On This Island” Scenic Designer Dane Laffrey

“You cannot begin to describe the effect that trip had on me as a person but also in feeling equipped to responsibly bring this work to Broadway in 2017 in a way that was true to the piece and what it portrays.”

That is what scenic designer Dane Laffrey told me near the end of our 45-minute phone conversation about the research trip to Haiti that completely changed the way he designed the current Broadway revival of “Once On This Island.” In fact, Laffrey said that expedition changed a lot of things, along with a few other meteorological events that coincidentally happened during the rehearsal process. “Hurricane Maria happened in Puerto Rico and the storms that affected those tiny little islands in the Bahamas. We continued to collect and pull those images because it felt like ‘Island’ is ultimately dealing with, at its core, how you survive in the face of something like that and the restorative power of storytelling. You feel that connection of the human spirit threaded through all these places.”

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Theatre Group Performs "RENT" Under Different Title to Avoid Paying to Licensing

Theatre Group Performs "RENT" Under Different Title to Avoid Paying to Licensing

In late 2015, seemingly in order to avoid paying Music Theatre International (MTI) for licensing rights for Jonathan Larson's "RENT", students of the theatre group UP Manila Dramatista at the University of the Phillippines - Manila, created their own musical titled "Measure in Love". 

While creating original shows or revues in lew of paying for licensing is a common occurrence, the difference here was that "Measure in Love" was "RENT", with the students simply changing the title to avoid potential copyright infringement. 

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A University in the Philippines is Performing "Bombshell" Musical While it's Still in Development in U.S.

A University in the Philippines is Performing "Bombshell" Musical While it's Still in Development in U.S.

This spring, the student-run, multimedia organization of and for art enthusiasts at the University of Santa Tomas(MEDIARTRIX-UST), will be performing their annual musical. In the past, this group has performed such shows as Spring Awakening and Legally Blonde. However this year they decided on newer work. This spring they are performing the musical, Bombshell. 

And in case you were wondering, yes, that is the fictitious musical from the TV-show Smash. 

Their production would be a world premiere of sorts because the show is still in development.

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An Indonesian School Produced 'Hamilton' Last Year and No One Noticed Until Now

An Indonesian School Produced 'Hamilton' Last Year and No One Noticed Until Now

In the Fall of 2016, a musical theatre club at the London School of Public Relations in Jakarta, Indonesia performed Hamilton for their fellow students and friends. However, this was not just a couple of songs that we typically see videos of in talent shows and cabarets. No, this was a fully staged production of the show, complete with sets, costumes, and choreography. And yes, it appears they sold tickets for this production. 

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Four-Time Tony Award Winner Boyd Gaines Leads Cast Featuring Sierra Boggess, Helen Cespedes, and Andrew Veenstra for the World Premiere of The Age of Innocence at Hartford Stage

Four-Time Tony Award Winner Boyd Gaines Leads Cast Featuring Sierra Boggess, Helen Cespedes, and Andrew Veenstra for the World Premiere of The Age of Innocence at Hartford Stage

Hartford Stage Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak and Managing Director Michael Stotts announced today the cast and creative team for the world premiere of The Age of Innocence, which will perform at Hartford Stage Thursday, April 5, through Sunday, May 6. 

The Age of Innocence has been adapted for the stage by Douglas McGrath. Tony Award Winner Doug Hughes will direct. Four-time Tony Award winner Boyd Gaines leads the cast, which features Sierra Boggess, Helen Cespedes, and Andrew Veenstra.

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Shakespeare and Gender Relations: An Inside Look at “The Will to Fight”

Shakespeare and Gender Relations: An Inside Look at “The Will to Fight”

It goes without saying that throughout history, very few playwrights are as renowned, studied and frequently produced as William Shakespeare. Some of the most famous comedies, tragedies and love stories in theatre have been credited to his name. Even just over the past year, I’ve probably reviewed more plays by Shakespeare than by any other playwright.

However, a new production coming to Brooklyn this weekend seeks to get audiences to view his work in a very specific lens, in the hopes of starting a conversation on issues that have been getting more and more attention, specifically over the past couple of years.

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