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MIGHTY REAL: A FABULOUS SYLVESTER MUSICAL Nabs Five AUDELCO Award Nominations

BroadwayWorld has learned that MIGHTY REAL: A FABULOUS SYLVESTER MUSICAL, the musical celebration of the life of the original 1970s "Queen of Disco" Sylvester, has been nominated for five AUDELCO Awards, including Outstanding Musical Production of the Year.

The Broadway-bound musical, produced by AnthonyKen LLC and Sheryl Lee Ralph/The Diva Foundation, was also nominated for Outstanding Direction of a Musical by Anthony Wayne and Kendrell Bowman. Mr. Wayne also received a nomination for Outstanding Performance in a Musical, Anastacia McCleskey was nominated for Outstanding Choreography of a Musical and Alonzo Harris was nominated for Outstanding Musical Director.

The musical had an Off-Broadway limited run at the Theatre at St. Clements last fall, two sold-out one night only performances at the Gramercy Theater, in addition to engagements in San Francisco, Washington DC and Atlanta. Plans for other engagements in cities across the country -- and a return to New York City -- will be announced in the New Year.

AUDELCO, the Audience Development Committee, Inc., was established in 1973 by the late Vivian Robinson to honor excellence in New York African American Theatre through presentation of Vivan Robinson/AUDELCO Recognition Awards (aka Viv awards). The awards were created to promote "recognition, understanding and awareness of the arts in the African-American community".

MIGHTY REAL: A FABULOUS SYLVESTER MUSICAL is written by and stars Anthony Wayne (who has been seen on Broadway in the musicals Pippin, Anything Goes, and Priscilla Queen of the Desert), who was selected as one of OUT magazine's "Out 100" for 2014. The musical is co-directed by Mr. Wayne and Kendrell Bowman, who also serves as the show's costume designer, with choreography by Anastacia McCleskey and musical direction by Alonzo Harris.

Joining Mr. Wayne in the cast of MIGHTY REAL: A FABULOUS SYLVESTER MUSICAL were Anastacia McCleskey (Violet, The Book of Mormon) as Izora Rhodes Armstead and Jacqueline B. Arnold (We Will Rock You, Priscilla Queen of the Desert) as Martha Wash - a.k.a. the Weather Girls (Two Tons of Fun); as well as DeAnne Stewart and Rahmel McDade.

MIGHTY REAL: A FABULOUS SYLVESTER MUSICAL had a set and lighting design by two-time Tony-nominee David Lander (Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, 33 Variations), costume design by Kendrell Bowman, and sound design by Rafe Carlotto / Sound Associates.

Mr. Wayne and Mr. Bowman, were inspired to create the musical after seeing the "Unsung" documentary about the artist on TV One in 2010. Moved by his story -- by Sylvester's bravery to openly be who he was in an era in which that was not supported or encouraged by society - Mr. Wayne sought out his music. Hooked, he discussed Sylvester's music and influence with Mr. Bowman and they both put their talents together with determination to bring the icon's story to the stage. The first incarnation of the show was a series of concerts at le poisson rouge in New York City in 2012, which were followed by sold-out performances in Washington, D.C. and Miami in 2013.

When Mr. Bowman and Mr. Wayne decided to present their creation Off-Broadway, they took to Twitter seeking celebrity support. Through these efforts they gained the support of the likes of Whoopi Goldberg, as well as Sheryl Lee Ralph, who came on board with the duo as a co-producer. The team financed the one-month Off-Broadway engagement through funds and investments partially acquired through a Kickstarter campaign, as well as Wayne and Bowman's own personal investment. MIGHTY REAL: A FABULOUS SYLVESTER MUSICAL began performances in 2014 at Theatre at St. Clement's) on September 5th and opened on September 14th. The limited engagement ended on October 5th 2014, a sell-out, and with the producers having recouped their investment. Before that limited run ended, Wayne and Bowman and Sheryl Lee Ralph were interviewed for "Unsung Revisited," the new documentary that inspired the musical, which recently aired on TV One.

MIGHTY REAL: A FABULOUS SYLVESTER MUSICAL Live Original Cast Recording is available online on iTunes and CD Baby.

Sylvester James, Jr. (September 6, 1947 - December 16, 1988), better known as Sylvester, was an American disco and soul singer-songwriter. Known for his flamboyant, androgynous appearance, he became known in the United States as the "Queen of Disco." Born in Watts, LA, Sylvester developed a love of singing through the gospel choirs of his Pentecostal church, which he left after being persecuted for his homosexuality. His career started as an early founder of a group of black cross-dressers and trans women known as The Disquotays. After that group disbanded, he moved to San Francisco and embraced the counterculture, joining a drag troupe, The Cockettes, and he eventually produced solo shows heavily influenced by female blues and jazz singers like Billie Holiday and Josephine Baker. Sylvester left the Cockettes to focus on his solo career, and by 1978, his acclaimed album Step II spawned the disco classics "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" and "Dance (Disco Heat)." He released 12 albums in his career, and had several more hits, including "Do Ya Wanna Funk," and "Can't Stop Dancing." An activist who campaigned against the spread of HIV/AIDS, Sylvester died from complications arising from the virus in 1988. In 2004, "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)," was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame, and one year later in 2005, Sylvester himself was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame for his achievement as an artist.

MIGHTY REAL: A FABULOUS SYLVESTER MUSICAL is proudly co-presented by Sheryl Lee Ralph and The DIVA Foundation. Ms. Ralph's award-winning body of work in film, television and the Broadway stage includes originating the role of Deena Jones in the landmark musical Dreamgirls (Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations) as well as the role of Muzzy van Hossmere in Thoroughly Modern Millie. She can currently be seen in the hit TV series "Instant Mom" on Nickelodeon and "Ray Donovan" on Showtime. A passionate health advocate and honored AIDS activist, Ms. Ralph is the founding director of the DIVA (Divinely Inspired Victoriously Aware) Foundation, a 501(C) 3 she created in memory of the many friends she has lost to HIV/AIDS. In the work of "Driving Infectious Viruses Away," The DIVA Foundation focuses on raising awareness, erasing stigma and discrimination, testing, and lowering the HIV infection rate - especially as it pertains to women and young people. As an artist, Sheryl believes in the transformational power of the arts and works to develop new, effective and creative programs to combat the disease. The Foundation disseminates information and provides advocacy and mobilization from a uniquely and unapologetically feminine point of view. Visit www.thedivafoundation.org.

For more information about the show, visit www.FabulousSylvester.com, go to their Kickstarter page, or follow on Twitter & Instagram: @fabsylvester and Facebook: www.facebook.com/fabsylvester.


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