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American Idol Anwar Robinson to Star in Syracuse's 'Godspell'


Syracuse Stage announces today that Anwar Robinson-Top Ten Finalist in the fourth season of American Idol, Recording Artist, Broadway and Film Actor-is confirmed to play the role of Jesus in the upcoming holiday production of Godspell, directed by Stage's Associate Artistic Director Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj. Featuring popular hit songs and multi-media projections, Godspell is a collaboration between Syracuse Stage and the Department of Drama in The College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University. As the Excellus BlueCross BlueShield Family Holiday Series, Godspell will run November 25 – December 28, 2008.

Anwar Robinson has recorded and performed with Clive Davis, Patti LaBelle, Kelly Price and Donnie McClurkin. In 2005, he was the seventh place finalist on the fourth season of American Idol. With the top ten American Idol finalists, Robinson toured 40 cities in the Unites States and Canada, performing for over 500,000 people. In 2007, Robinson took on the role of "Collins" in the 2007-2008 National/International Tour of Jonathan Larson's iconic Rock Opera, RENT. The tour made stops in over 40 cities in the United States, Canada (Toronto, London, & Kitchener, Ontario and Calgary, Alberta), and Japan (Tokyo and Osaka). Then for a July 2008 workshop, Robinson was asked to play the lead role of "Raymond Tyler, Jr." in the musical adaptation of E. Lynn Harris' award-winning novel Invisible Life, scored by world-renowned composers Ashford & Simpson. Robinson's first feature film Friends & Lovers: Ski Trip 2 will be released later this year.

Often compared to his musical idol Stevie Wonder, Robinson is an accomplished vocalist and pianist. He graduated from Westminster Choir College of Rider University, working for a time as a junior high school music teacher. Having worked with Patti LaBelle as Keyboardist/Musical Director for the Food Network pilot Patti's Kitchen, Robinson is now working on his debut solo album The Truth About Love, with eclectic music that will tap into R&B, Soul, Jazz and Inspirational/Gospel.

"I am thrilled to be directing this exciting, new production of Godspell. The cast, led by Anwar Robinson, represents the very best of the next generation of American musical theater artists," said Director/Choreographer Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj. "The infusion of culture and world issues makes this classic American musical even more relevant today as we look at the world around us. I'm proud to be part of the Syracuse theatrical community, and I am doubly proud that this will be my directorial debut at Syracuse Stage with this extremely talented, gifted and dynamic cast."

Joining Robinson will be three other professional actors and six students from the Department of Drama. The professional actors include Brandi Chavonne Massey in the role of Sonia, Timothy Ware as Judas, and Jasmin Walker as Joanne. The student actors include senior Musical Theatre majors Michael Howell as Lamar/Davinci, Nadine Malouf as Robin/Buckminster, Lauren Nolan as Gilmer/Gibbon, Frank Paparone as Jeffrey/Thomas Aquinas, Brendon Stimson as Herb/Nietzsche, and senior Acting major Tinuke Oyefule as Peggy/Jean Paul.

Godspell at Syracuse Stage will be a celebration of worldwide community, filled with popular hit songs and irresistible goodwill. From the UN to India to China to Darfur to Syracuse, NY, prepare ye the way of hope, brotherhood and sisterhood as the time for tolerance and inclusiveness draws nearer "Day by Day."  A groundbreaking musical in its time, this colorful update features world dance-inspired choreography and multimedia projections. 

In 1972, Godspell won the Grammy for Best Score from an Original Cast Show Album, and in 1977 it won the Tony Award for Best Original Score. Composer Stephen Schwartz's most recent musical, Wicked, opened in the fall of 2003 and is currently enjoying a successful run on Broadway as well as tours throughout the nation.  

Godspell will run November 25-December 28 at Syracuse Stage. Tickets range $24-$48. Discounts are available for seniors and students. Rush tickets available two hours prior to curtain. Tickets are available at the Syracuse Stage Box Office at 820 East Genesee Street, by telephone at 315-443-3275 or For group discounts (10 or more) call 315-443-9844.

Syracuse Stage is Central New York's premier professional theatre.  Founded as a not-for-profit theatre in 1974 by Arthur Storch, Stage has produced more than 220 plays in 35 seasons including numerous world and American premieres.  Each season upwards of 90,000 patrons enjoy an exciting mix of comedies, dramas and musicals featuring the finest professional theatre artists.  In addition, Stage maintains a vital educational outreach program that annually serves over 30,000 students from 24 counties.  Syracuse Stage is a constituent of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for the American theatre, and a member of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT).  In addition to ticket sales, Syracuse Stage performances are made possible by funds from Syracuse University, the Central New York Community Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts, The Shubert Foundation, Onondaga County, and corporate, foundation and individual donors. 

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