The Colony Theatre Presents BREATH AND IMAGINATION: THE STORY OF ROLAND HAYES, Now thru 10/13
The Colony Theatre is thrilled to present the West Coast Premiere of BREATH AND IMAGINATION: The Story of Roland Hayes, a true story by Daniel Beaty, directed by Saundra McClain, with Musical Direction by Rahn Coleman. BREATH AND IMAGINATION will open tonight, September 14 at 8:00pm and continue through Sunday, October 13.
Long before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball, before Hattie McDaniel won an Oscar for the role of Mammy in Gone with the Wind or the Tuskegee Airmen won honors as black pilots in World War II, Roland Hayes made history as the first world-renowned African-American classical singer. The son of slaves, he grew up in poverty on a Georgia plantation. As a man, he became the toast of two continents, headlining at Carnegie Hall and singing for kings and queens of Europe, blazing a path for Paul Robeson, Marian Anderson, and countless others who came after. A major celebrity in his time, today he has been largely (and inexplicably) forgotten. Until now. In this extraordinary, inspiring play filled with music, audiences will discover how the gift of his father's pocket watch set him on his remarkable journey to greatness.
ABOUT THE CREATIVE TEAM
Daniel Beaty (Playwright) is an award-winning actor, singer, writer and motivational speaker. His critically acclaimed plays Through the Night, Emergency, and Mr. Joy have been performed at venues ranging from Lincoln Center to the White House, and garnered numerous awards including an Obie Award for writing and performance and two NAACP Theater Awards. Through the Night and Emergencyboth played extended, sold-out runs at LA's Geffen Playhouse. His new solo play on the life of Paul Robeson, The Tallest Tree in the Forest, will have its World Premiere this fall at the La Jolla Playhouse, directed by Moisés Kaufman, and be performed at the Mark Taper Forum in spring of 2014. He is a highly requested keynote speaker and thought leader, an adjunct professor at Columbia University, a diversity trainer and a youth development specialist. In the fall of 2013, Beaty will launch a nationwide initiative (funded by W.K. Kellogg and Ford Foundation, among others) using the tools of storytelling to help individuals and communities heal trauma. He holds a B.A. with Honors in English and Music from Yale University and an MFA in Acting from The American Conservatory Theatre. His poem Knock Knock has been transformed into a children's book of the same title, published by Little Brown Books. Penguin-Random House will publish his empowerment book Transforming Pain to Power in February 2014. www.DanielBeaty.com
Saundra McClain (Director) received rave reviews this season for her direction of Ain't Misbehavin' at International City Theatre as well as her productions of Frankie and Johnny in the Clair De Lune, The Fantasticks and In the Continuum at Ensemble Theatre in Santa Barbara. Recent productions includeAin't Misbehavin' and Spunk at Two River Theatre. Her production of Ain't Misbehavin' at Playhouse on the Green won the Drama Critics' Award for Best Ensemble in Connecticut. As adjunct professor at Queens College, she directed Sophocles' Electra and also created and taught the Black Theater Workshop. She directed Death of a Salesman, Antigone, To Be Young, Gifted and Black. and The Women of Plums for Kennedy Center's Youth and Family Programs, and at Henry Street Settlement, Dark of the Moon, Hello Out There, Don't See My Bones, and Think I Am Dead. At UBU Rep, A Modest Proposal, and at Cherry Lane Theatre, Harriet's Return, a one-woman show which toured nationally for five years, along with Of Ebony Embers-Vignettes of the Harlem Renaissance, a one-man show with chamber orchestra. She was Artistic Director of Troupe NY, which adapted classic works for the schools and developed new works with emerging playwrights and directors. She is a lifetime member of The Actors Studio, an ensemble member of Antaeus Theatre Company, and is Artist in Residence at Ensemble Theatre Company in Santa Barbara. As an author, Ms. McClain is recipient of an NEA grant for her musical Storm Warning; Caribe, currently in development with composer Kathryn Bostic, and was workshopped at Kennedy Center and the ASCAP/Disney Workshop in Los Angeles. She is also collaborating with Emmy Award-winning composers Bobby Daye and Tom Kochan on Ties That Bind. She has just returned from National Black Theatre Festival 2013 where she performed her one-woman show, Barbara Jordan: A Rendezvous with Destiny.
Rahn Coleman (Musical Director) has served as musical director, conductor, and pianist for Play On, Purlie, Blues in the Night, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, The Wiz, Ain't Misbehavin, Ray (Charles), Play On, Sammy (Davis), Baby it's You, and Williams and Walker to name a few. A product of extensive classical training having studied under the renowned teacher Nadia Boulangier, Rahn has over 25 years of professional experience, and has performed, conducted coached, and arranged for such notables as Aretha Franklin, Freda Payne, Nichelle Nichols, Michael Feinstein, Gladys Knight, Barry White, The Ojays, The Temptations, Tina Turner, Ray Charles, Sarah Vaughn, the Philadelphia Philharmonic, and the Clinton Presidential Inaugural Orchestra. He is the recipient of national and international critical acclaim and always in the running for top honors. Hailed as one of the most effective performance coaches in the world, he has also shared his artistic gifts through service as Minister of Music at Christ the King and Faith Lutheran churches in Southern California. He is producing director of "The Mystic Knight Recorder," L.A's leading underground studio, where new vistas for world class music and its performance are in constant creation.
ABOUT THE CAST AND DESIGN TEAM
ELIJAH ROCK (Roland Hayes) was born in Cleveland, where he grew up singing in church and was discovered by the Cleveland Orchestra Children's Chorus and the Cleveland Opera Children's Chorus. While in high school, he studied classical voice at the world-renowned Interlochen Arts Camp for two summers. In his senior year, he had the honor of being one of the first vocalists to be accepted into the prestigious Cleveland Institute of Music Young Artist Program. Also in Cleveland, he studied comedy and drama at the Karamu House Theatre, the oldest African-American theatre in the country. LA beckoned him as a soloist for the Los Angeles Jubilee Singers, singing Negro Spiritual music in concert halls around the world. After moving to Harlem, his diverse skill set landed him leading roles in productions off-Broadway and in regional theatres across the country. His stage credits include Fences, Jitney, Vaudeville, To Be Young Gifted and Black, Hoodoo Love, Baby Its You, Sophisticated Ladies, Paradise (a World Premiere bluegrass musical), Adrian in Smokey Joe's Café, the iconic role of Coalhouse Walker Jr. in Ragtime and, most recently, Anatoly in Chess at the East West Players in LA. His film credits include the comedy 3 Blind Saints and the upcoming independent drama Salvation Street, set to release in December, 2013. His debut jazz vocal single, That First Time, and his debut jazz vocal album, Elijah Rock LIVE in Hollywood, are available on iTunes and Amazon. He is also a professional tap dancer, and continues to study classical voice privately with Vladimir Chernov.
KARAN KENDRICK (Angel Mo', the mother of Roland Hayes) marks her Los Angeles theatre debut withBreath and Imagination. Other work includes NY Theatre: Goddess (Workshop), Eugene O'Neill Musical Theatre Conference; Macbeth, Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death...Classical Theatre of Harlem; Regional Theatre: Hartford Stage, Arena Stage, Goodman Theatre, ALLIANCE THEATRE, True Colors Theatre, Portland Center Stage. TV/Film: Law and Order: CI, Army Wives, Drop Dead Diva, The Wronged Man, The Hunger Games, Parental Guidance, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, Madea Goes to Jail, and the upcomingA Friggin' Christmas Miracle.
KEVIN ASHWORTH (The Accompanist) is thrilled to be working at The Colony Theatre for the first time. Favorite stage credits include Chapter Two (Laguna Playhouse), The Dinosaur Within (Theatre @ Boston Court), All My Sons (Raven Playhouse), A Streetcar Named Desire and Musical of Musicals: The Musical! (Foothills Theatre), and 1776 (Lyric Stage). TV: Scandal, 90210, CSI: Miami, Desperate Housewives, 24 among others. www.kevinashworth.com