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Harlem Repertory Theatre To Revive Harburg & Saidy's JAMAICA


Harlem Repertory Theatre To Revive Harburg & Saidy's JAMAICA

The Harlem Repertory Theatre, under the direction of its Founding Artistic Director Keith Lee Grant, has announced that it will present JAMAICA, Yip Harburg and Fred Saidy,'s powerful story about a Jamaican woman's dream of moving to New York City, July 29th - March 24th at The Tato Laviera Theatre (240 East 123rd Street). The production is one of five Harburg works that the HRT and Mr. Grant will produce in the next four years.

JAMAICA takes its audience on a journey to Pigeon Island off the coast of Jamaica, following an ambitious island girl named Savannah who dreams of finding true love and escaping to New York City. The production examines how an isolated island community navigates the perils of love, family and relationships while they confront the increasing pressures of American commercialism, class struggles and racism.

The book of Harlem Repertory's production of JAMAICA has been adapted by Art Perlman who also adapted the Broadway script for the critically acclaimed and Tony Nominated recent revival of FINIAN'S RAINBOW. In addition to Perlman's fresh, new perspective, JAMAICA will be staged environmentally with the actors, singers and dancers performing throughout the performance space only inches away from the audience. Likewise, Edward Corcino has designed colorful, entertaining, and thought-provoking animations, while award-winning puppet designer, Daniel Fergus Tamulonis, has managed to sneak in some surprising puppets for the production.

The musical JAMAICA was written by Harburg when he was a victim of MarCarthy's Hollywood Blacklists. Since he couldn't find work in Hollywood, Harburg focused his talents on the Broadway stage. In the current contentious political environment JAMAICA's powerful political themes (racism, classism, and capitalism) resonate even more today than they did in 1959 when this groundbreaking and mostly forgotten musical theatre treasure opened on Broadway.

The Harlem Repertory Theatre and Mr. Grant have embarked on a plan to produce five of Yip Harburg's musical theatre works in four years: The Wizard of Oz is currently playing at the HRT, "Jamaica" opens in July, 2017, Finian's Rainbow/Flahooley will open in 2018 and Bloomer Girl will join the repertory in 2019.

The cast of JAMAICA features Taylor-Rey Rivera, Barbyly Noël, Corean Robinson, Dexter Thomas-Payne, Daniel Fergus Tamulonis, Derrick Montalvado and Jason Johnson.

Y.E. "YIP" HARBURG (Playwright, Lyricist) is best known as the "social conscience of Broadway" after writing the Depression era lyrics for his anthem "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?" that was charged with Harburg's progressive communal vision. His socially conscious classic Broadway shows include the anti-racist, anti-capitalist musicals, Finian's Rainbow, Bloomer Girl, Flahooley and Jamaica.

FREDSAIDY (Playwright) was also the co-writer of the book for the Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg musical Bloomer Girl. It was the first of several collaborations with Harburg that included Finian's Rainbow (1947), Flahooley (1951), Jamaica (1957), and The Happiest Girl in the World (1961). He was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Musical for his work on Jamaica.

Harold Arlen (Composer) composed the music for iconic songs that serve as the foundation of the American Song Book: "Over the Rainbow" was voted the twentieth century's No. 1 song by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment of the Arts.

Keith Lee Grant (Director/Choreographer) is the Founding Artistic Director of Harlem Repertory Theatre. He holds an MFA from the Yale School of Drama, an MA from Penn State and a Certificate from the American Conservatory Theater's Advanced Training Program. He has directed and/or choreographed over 140 professional and university productions from "As You Like It", Pinero's "Short Eyes," Inge's "Picnic" to the musicals "Sweeney Todd," "A Little Night Music" and "Mame." He has performed on Broadway in "Marie Christine," "Showboat" and in the U.S. premiere of "Ragtime" at the Shubert Theatre in Los Angeles. Mr. Grant has worked Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons, York Theater, Jewish Repertory Theater, New Federal Theatre, AMAS Rep and New York Theater Workshop, among others. His regional credits include Yale Rep, Syracuse Stage, The Indiana Rep and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. His Harlem Rep productions of "The Wiz" (2009) and "Dreamgirls" (2012) each won two AUDELCO awards (Best Director of a Musical and Best Choreography of a Musical).

The design teamincludes: dramaturg/adaptor Arthur Perlman, costume design by Mary Myers, animations by Edward Corcino, and puppets by Daniel Fergus Tamulonis.

Performances of JAMAICA are at 7PM from JULY 29TH, 2017 to MARCH 24TH, 2018.

Tickets can be purchased online at

The Harlem Repertory Theatre is a non-profit theater committed to producing artistically and intellectually challenging productions that explore the experiences of a diverse range of ethnic, social, and cultural communities.

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