Taye Diggs to Choreograph, Stafford Arima to Direct Industry Reading of THE ME NOBODY KNOWS, 5/14-15
Producer Bellanca Smigel Rutter announced today that a working, industry reading of The Me Nobody Knows will take place in New York City on May 14 and 15, 2014 in anticipation of a commercial production. Director Stafford Arima (Allegiance, Altar Boyz) will helm the creative team, which will also include musical direction by Bryan Perri (Wicked), and choreography by Taye Diggs (Rent, "Private Practice").
"The Me Nobody Knows has held a special place in my heart since seeing it with my brother as small children," said producer Bellanca Smigel Rutter. "While the country has changed drastically since the 1970's, the social fabric of young people hasn't - they still have the same struggles, hopes, and dreams as they did then. I am excited to explore this beloved material with our fantastic creative team and the fresh, young talent of The Broadway Dreams Foundation, in order to create an exciting, new experience that will resonate with audiences of today."
"I performed in The Me as a college student and that experience helped pave the way for my love of performing," said Taye Diggs. "Choreography has always been a passion of mine. To create movement on this scale, and for a project I was so moved by as a young artist, is an opportunity that I could not pass up. I am truly grateful."
Inspired by the writings of nearly 200 New York City public school children, ages 7 though 18, The Me Nobody Knows has been inspiring and touching audiences throughout the world for generations. Through its powerful and uplifting contemporary score, The Me Nobody Knows follows a day in the life of a multi-racial cast of young people as they examine their aspirations, fears and determination. At odds with their squalid surroundings and cynical, materialistic views of the world, feelings of hope and renewal emerge.
The cast of The Me Nobody Knows is comprised entirely of students from The Broadway Dreams Foundation (BDF), a national, non-profit performing arts training program. Stafford Arima explains, "In thinking about the casting for this reading, I suggested we find our cast within the students of BDF. We had well over 100 students audition and we found a unique and special group of 10 from across the country. Bringing The Me and BDF together was truly a match made in Heaven."
The cast of The Me Nobody Knows includes Rosa Campos (Atlanta, GA), Rayquila Durham (Atlanta, GA), Sam Faulkner (Charlotte, NC), Samantha Gorjanc (San Jose, CA), Brett Gray (Philadelphia, PA), Rico LeBron (Tallahassee, FL), Noah Ricketts (Louisville, KY), Jordan Samuels (New York, NY), Anneliza Canning Skinner (Marietta, GA), and Brinnie Wallace (Los Angeles, CA).
The Me Nobody Knows is based on the book conceptualized by Herb Schapiro, edited by Stephen M. Joseph, and adapted for the stage by Robert H. Livingston and Herb Schapiro. With music by Gary William Friedman, lyrics by Will Holt, and arrangements by Gary William Friedman, The Me Nobody Knows debuted to rave reviews Off-Broadway in 1970 and won the Obie Award and Drama Desk Award for "Best Musical" that year. In December of 1970, the acclaimed new musical transferred to Broadway's Helen Hayes Theatre. Its ground-breaking score, which combined rock with early rap and jazz, made it one of the earliest rock musicals to ever play a Broadway stage. New York Times critic Clive Barnes called it "...one of the best musicals on Broadway and unequivocally the most moving, the most poignant. I loved its understanding and compassion, and I felt its pain and yet also its unsentimental determination for hope." After ending its Broadway run, The Me Nobody Knows was performed throughout the world in cities such as Paris, London, Tel Aviv, Hamburg, and Johannesburg. The cast of the German-language version, Ich Bin Ich, included a young Donna Summer. In 1980, the musical was produced for the television network Showtime and was recorded at the CBS television studio now known as The Ed Sullivan Theatre.
Photo Credit: Jim Smeal / BEImages