Mama Foundation for the Arts to Present WE ARE! at Dempsey Theater on Saturdays
The Mama Foundation for the Arts presents WE ARE!, an original musical about and starring the acclaimed Gospel for Teens Choir. Conceived and written by Vy Higginsen and Ken Wydro (the creators of MAMA, I WANT TO SING), and directed by Mr. Wydro, WE ARE! is now performing in repertory on Saturday afternoons at The Dempsey Theater in Harlem (127 W. 127 St.). Tickets to WE ARE! are $35 and can be arranged by calling the Mama Foundation for the Arts at 212-280-1045, or online at SmartTix.com.
WE ARE! Is based on an award-winning "60 Minutes" feature story (two 2012 Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Feature Story in a News Magazine; as well as a 2012 National Association of Black Journalists Salute to Excellence Award) that followed the students of Gospel for Teens, the acclaimed music program of the Mama Foundation for the Arts' School of Gospel, Jazz and R&B Arts, for one year. The musical follows a group of students from auditions forward, revealing both the trials and the triumphs of our younger generation.
"WE ARE! allows the talented young performers that we have identified and trained the opportunity to be seen . . . and to be employed in the arts. Our talented teens have assembled to lift our spirits through music, to express both and our wounds and worries, and our joys and triumphs," says Mama Foundation for the Arts Executive Director Vy Higginsen, co-creator of WE ARE!
Through the Gospel for Teens program, instruction in the art form of gospel music has been offered to young people between the ages of 13 and 19 at no cost since 2006. The Gospel for Teens program has serviced hundreds of students in the past seven years, providing desperately needed support to musically gifted children, and replacing arts programs taken out of many inner city schools.
Students from GFT's "Performing Before Live Audiences" (PBLA) level comprise the Gospel for Teens Choir, a nationally recognized and award-winning ensemble, led by Choir Director Ahmaya Knoelle Higginsen, whose members are also featured in MAMA, I WANT TO SING: THE NEXT GENERATION. In addition to "60 Minutes," Gospel for Teen Choir's other national TV appearances include performances on the "Hope for Haiti Now" telethon (performing with Madonna), "The Celebrity Apprentice" (performing with Arsenio Hall and Clay Aiken), "The CBS Early Show" and "The Nate Berkus Show." In addition to their acclaimed weekly performances at Marcus Samuelsson's Sunday Gospel Brunch at Red Rooster Harlem/Ginny's Supper Club, the Gospel for Teens Choir have recently performed at the prestigious TED Conference in Long Beach, CA; the Stellar Gospel Music Awards in Nashville, TN; and Moncler Grenoble's winter show at New York Fashion Week.
The cast of WE ARE! features Vy Higginsen, Ahmaya Knoelle Higginson and Saige Bryan, Calvin Calloway, Lorna Courtney, Samantha Diaz, Adonis Drummond, Brielle Fragé, Nytiera Francis, Marlon Gordon, Jessica Lyric Harp, Kaylah Harvey, Diamond Jones, Shacara McLaurin, Raechel Mizrachi, Nicholas Myers, Joseph Parker Jr., Kiara A Ray, Yvette Rogers, Dominique Smith, Tunisia Solomon, Seteena Turner, and Alanna Underwood.
WE ARE! has music direction by Vincent Bohanan (also a member of the Gospel for Teens Choir). The assistant director is Ahmaya Knoelle Higginson.