Mama Foundation for the Arts Presents Back-to-Back Saturday Musical Matinees, Beg. 10/6
Vy Higginsen's Mama Foundation for the Arts presents two musical matinees, Mama I Want To Sing: The Next Generation and Sing, Harlem, Sing!, every Saturday afternoon (performances resume on Saturday, October 6th, 2012) at The Dempsey Theater, located at 127 West 127th Street, between Lenox and 7th Avenues. Tickets for both musicals are priced from $20 - $35, and are available via SmartTix.com (212-868-4444) or by calling the Mama Foundation for the Arts at 212-280-1045.
Mama, I Want to Sing: The Next Generation
This classic musical tells the story of a talented young girl who dreams of leaving her church choir to pursue a life in popular music, despite strong objections from her mother. A tribute to the many African-American artists with church choir roots who rose to fame in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, creator Vy Higginsen based her musical on the life of her sister, Doris Troy, whose 1963 hit "Just One Look" launched her to international fame.
Mama, I Want to Sing: The Next Generation features Ahmaya Knoelle Higginson as Doris, Bettina Pennon as Mama, Sandra Huff as Sister Carrie, Tyrone Flowers as Reverend Winters, Elijah Ahmad Lewis as the Minister of Music, Vy Higginsen as The Narrator, as well as members of Ms. Higginsen's Gospel for Teens Choir (as seen on CBS' "60 Minutes").
Mama, I Want to Sing: The Next Generation, directed by Ken Wydro, opened at The Dempsey in April 2011 and has been thrilling audiences ever since. The New York Times praised its "infectious joy" and "impeccable vocals," claiming "it's hard to resist." The New York Daily News said it "continues to raise its voice – and the roof." The New York Amsterdam News said "it's not just a story, it's a love letter. It's still a blessing."
The original production of Mama, I Want to Sing opened on March 23, 1983. It played for eight years and over 2,500 performances in New York (1983-1991), becoming the longest-running African-American Off-Broadway musical in American history. Mama, I Want to Sing went on to play another 1,000 performances through a three-year tour across the USA; a run in London's West End; several European tours (Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia); multiple appearances in the Caribbean; and seven tours throughout Japan. Over the years such noted performers as Doris Troy, Shirley Caesar, Chaka Khan, Patti LaBelle, Deniece Williams, Tisha Campbell, Octavia Lambertis, Desiree Coleman, D'Atra Hicks, Stacy Francis, Ben Vereen, and Ciara have appeared in stage and film versions of Mama, I Want to Sing. This coming season marks the musical's 30th Anniversary.
*Mama, I Want to Sing: The Next Generation performs on Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sing, Harlem, Sing!
This soulful musical revue celebrates African-American music, urban radio, and the energy of one of the world's most legendary neighborhoods. Created by Vy Higginsen and inspired by the many years she spent behind the microphone at major urban radio stations (such as WBLS-FM, WWRL-AM, and WRKS-FM), Sing, Harlem, Sing!'s score includes R&B, jazz, rock 'n' roll and gospel . . . "Music from Saturday Night and Sunday Morning." The show features songs made famous by Chuck Berry, Ben E. King, JAmes Brown, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Minnie Riperton, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Etta James, and Chaka Khan, among others, in addition to traditional gospel tunes.
The cast of Sing, Harlem, Sing! features Natasha C. Coward, Tyrone Flowers, Ahmaya Knoelle Higginson, Fela Jackson, Octavia Jones, Elijah Ahmad Lewis, Michael Liverpool, Vaughn Moore, Ne'Lashee', N'Kenge, Bettina Pennon, Craig Stagg, Kia Thorton-Miller, Whitney White, Craig Wiggins and Vy Higginsen as The Narrator.
Sing, Harlem, Sing!, directed by Ken Wydro, had its world premiere at The Apollo Theater in 2008, and a limited engagement at The Dempsey followed prior to the show launching a successful Japanese tour the following year.
*Sing, Harlem, Sing! performs on Saturdays at 1:00 p.m.
"An entertainment capital within the world's greatest entertainment capital, Harlem's music, culture and people are at the heart of these two shows," says creator Vy Higginsen.
Tickets for Mama, I Want To Sing: The Next Generation and Sing, Harlem, Sing! are priced at:
$20 (children 14 and under)
$30 (teens, students and seniors – with valid ID)
Vy Higginsen founded the Mama Foundation for the Arts (MFA) in 1998 with the mission to re-establish Harlem as a world artistic and cultural center. As the home to Ms. Higginsen's School for Gospel, Jazz and R&B Arts, a renowned conservatory, and its Gospel for Teens program, MFA is proud to both train and present the very best talent that New York City has to offer. For more information, visit www.mamafoundation.org.
Sandra Huff as Sister Carrie in Mama, I Want to Sing: The Next Generation, The Dempsey Theater, New York, 2011. Photo credit: Carol Rosegg.