Photo Flash: The Countess of Storyville Debuts at The Players Theatre
Amas Musical Theatre presented yet another marvelous event at The Players Theater as part of its Six O'Clock Musical Theatre Lab: a staged reading of The Countess of Storyville. Set in New Orleans' celebrated red-light district, circa 1910, "The Countess of Storyville" is an epic story of lust, love, mystery and murder with book by R.M. Cohen, music by Martin Silvestri, lyrics by Joel Higgins and musical direction by Jason DeBord. Amas Artistic Associate Michael Bush directed.
Bush with the assist of Carol Hanzel Casting assembled an extraordinary ensemble for this sprawling story of good and evil and how the lines are blurred when secrets are involved. Nikki Crawford winner of the NAACP Image Award for her role as the young Lena Horne in the Pasadena Playhouse production of Stormy Weather portrays the beautiful, elegant, multi-racial Countess Willie Dupree who returns to her roots in Storyville and sets up a Parisian style house of ill repute. Her pleasure palace draws not only the local gentry in droves but also the ire of the shady, extortionist Mayor of the town. Her love interest, the dashing young Antonio Maduro Zaragoza, is winningly played by Jeremiah James who recently ended a 10 month critically acclaimed West End run as "Billy Bigelow" in the revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel at the historic Savoy Theater in London. The dynamic young singer actor is one quarter of Sony Records million album selling quartet "Teatro". He recently released his debut solo album "Tupelo" and is currently in the recording with producer/composer Jonathan Brielle working on his next release. The incomparable Lillias White whipped the audience into frenzy with her turn as the local midwife, shrink and Voo Doo queen of the community and Allen Fitzpatrick was the malevolent mayor and John Herrera a corrupt Alderman bent on driving the Countess out of his town - by any means necessary.
Toss in a Latin American coup in the making, a shrewish nun and a spineless priest, a suspicious death, the hanging of an innocent woman, add a gorgeous score and a plot twisting book and you have all the makings of a sweeping saga of small town corruption and malice that still cannot thwart true love. Of the experience in directing the musical, Michael Bush who also serves as Artistic Director of the Tony Award winning Eugene O'Neill Cabaret Festival said," It's very rare indeed these days for a director to be given an opportunity to work on a musical of such size and quality....I felt like I was back in the golden age!"
Featured in the talented ensemble cast were Forrest McClendon, Jamie LaVerdiere, Jay Sullivan, Mark Zimmerman, Peter Cormican, Lawrence Clayton, Brittney Lee Hamilton, Leah Edwards, Wendy Fox, Doreen Montalvo, Christy Faber, Christine LaDuca, Soara-Joye Ross, Julian Brightman, Kevin B. McGlinn, Bart Shatto, Dan Debenport, Aaron Bantum and Kyrian Fridenberg.
Amas Musical Theatre is a non-profit, multi-ethnic theatrical organization founded in 1968 by Ms. Rosetta LeNoire. The Amas mission is grounded in non-traditional, multi-ethnic production, education and casting. Amas Musical Theatre is devoted to the creation, development and professional production of new American musicals, the celebration of diversity and minority perspectives, the emergence of new artistic talent, and the training and encouragement of inner-city young people.
For over 40 years, Amas ("you love" in Latin) has engraved its unique trademark on the world of musical theatre. We produce quality musical theatre presenting different cultural viewpoints including African-American, Latino, European, and Jewish, while reaching out to underserved audiences. Amas attracts actors and artists of distinction and reputation, while offering opportunities for new talent to learn and develop
Coming up at The Amas Musical Theatre Lab, a free development series for writers, lyricists and composers to mount staged readings of their new musicals, is The Good Man, based on the novel by Jefferson Young with music by Ray Leslee, book and lyrics by Philip S. Goodman on November 3 & 4. Admission is free
On November 7, Amas' American Song Saloon will feature MAC Award-winner KLea Blackhurst as she shares highlights of her one woman show, "Everything the Traffic Will Allow: The Songs and Sass of Ethel Merman." Guests will enjoy the stories and songs of the legendary Broadway star Ethel Merman in a spectacular, intimate, sky-high Manhattan party space on West 57th Street. Mingle over wine and hors d'oeuvres at the "American Song Salon" with Amas Musical Theatre. Music Director is John Bell and director is David Armstrong. Tickets are $90.
The American Song Salon is a new program from Amas Musical Theatre designed to present up-close and personal soirees that celebrate the Broadway songbook and some of its brightest talents in a relaxed and elegant environment.
For Reservations please call: 212-563-2565 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
THE COUNTESS OF STORYVILLE is supported by the NEA, the NYC Dept of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, with public funds from the NY State Council on the Arts, and by the ASCAP Foundation Irving Caesar Fund, the BMI Foundation, the Dramatists Guild, the Edith Meiser Fund, and through the generous support of many individuals.
Photos by Edward Callaghan
Director Michael Bush
Cast member Lawrence Clayton
Cast member Allen Fitzpatrick
Cast member Lillias White
Cast member Forrest McClendon
Debra Morton Hoyt & Rick Hoyt