Def Jam's Kevin Liles Joins Producing Team for THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL
THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL stars Academy Award nominee and Emmy Award-winning actress Cicely Tyson --returning to Broadway after 30 years, Academy Award winner CUBA GOODING, JR, (Jerry Maguire, Red Tails), Emmy Award nominee and recording star Vanessa Williams ("Ugly Betty," "Desperate Housewives"), and Tony Award nominee Condola Rashad (Lifetime's "Steel Magnolias", Broadway's Stick Fly). This is the first Broadway producing credit that the record executive will add to his already extensive entertainment resume.
Liles will join a group of producers led by TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL Managing Producer and Tony-Award Winner Producer Nelle Nugent, who also produced the Broadway sensation Stick Fly with Grammy Award winner Alicia Keys. He will also be joined by prominent African American producers Stephen Byrd and Alia Jones of Front Row Productions who produced the first African American Broadway production of Tennessee Williams' Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (2008) - the highest grossing Broadway play that season - and the successful transfer of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof to London's West End (2009-2010) starring James Earl Jones and Phylicia Rashad, with Terrence Howard & Anika Noni Rose on Broadway and Adrian Lester & Sanaa Lathan on the West End. Both productions were directed by Debbie Allen. Producer Ray Gaspard, who's Broadway credits include A Steady Rain (2009), starring Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman, and Our Country's Good (1991), will also be among the show's impressive list of accomplished producers. Gaspard is also a driving force in regional theatres and founded both the Westside Arts Theatre and the Union Square Theatre, two of the most prominent off-Broadway theatres in New York City.
Liles is best known for his meteoric rise from unpaid intern to President and CEO of the Def Jam Music Group in only seven years. During his years at the helm, he was responsible for doubling the yearly revenue and leading brand diversification in digital, gaming, and global brand development for the company. He has been credited for guiding the successful careers of performers such as Jay-Z, Ludacris, LL Cool J, DMX, Musiq Soulchild, and many more. After leaving Def Jam in 2004, Liles served as executive vice president for Warner Music Group where he was part of the management team that brought the company private and then public. Never one to stray away from challenging himself professionally, in 2009 Liles then founded the multi-business holding group KWL Enterprises, which is anchored by the artist-management and brand development firm, KWL Talent Management. The journey he is embarking on as a producer of The Trip to Bountiful is further evidence that Liles continues to challenge himself creatively.
"I pride myself in always looking for opportunities to share enriching cultural experience with others," said Liles. "While I've touched many entertainment platforms during my career including television, sports, fashion, and of course, music, this was a project that expanded my horizons creatively. Ultimately, the decision to help produce The Trip to Bountiful was an easy one. It was personal to me: I was touched by the story of Carrie Watts, a resilient and determined woman who reminds me of my mother and my 92-year old grandmother. I was also moved by the talent of the production team, the Broadway interpretation of this work, and the illustrious cast of Cicely Tyson, Cuba Gooding Jr, VanessaWilliams and Condola Rashad that once again allows me to work with what I see as National Treasures in the artistic space I am continuously inspired when working with amazing talent who are masterful at their craft. I am honored to be part of this team that will help recreate this American classic with the African American spirit."
"Kevin Liles has been a trailblazer in the worlds of music, fashion, and television, to name just a few, and to have him join us on this production adds a new level of excitmement to Broadway and to live theatre," said Managing Producer Nelle Nugent. "Kevin's reach, energy, and expertise have already made a great impact on The Trip to Bountiful and I look forward to the partnership and bringing this wonderful play to as broad an audience as possible."
The production, directed by Michael Wilson, tells the story of Carrie Watts (Tyson), an elderly woman who dreams of returning to her small hometown of Bountiful, TX one last time, against the wishes of her overprotective son (Gooding) and domineering daughter-in-law (Williams). Her journey becomes a heartbreaking, but ultimately life-affirming tale that examines the fragility of memory and celebrates the enduring power of hope and faith.
THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL is guaranteed to steal audiences' hearts as it first did when it premiered as a teleplay on NBC in 1953. The play was adapted by Mr. Foote into an acclaimed 1985 film starring Geraldine Page, for which she won the Academy Award. In 2005, Signature Theatre produced the play Off-Broadway starring Lois Smith, for which she won Lortel, Obie, Outer Critics and Drama Desk Awards.
The play will begin preview performances on Saturday, March 30 at 8pm, at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre (124 W 43rd St). Opening night will be Tuesday, April 23. Tickets are available at www.Telecharge.com or by calling 212-239-6200.