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Mama Foundation for the Arts Presents ALIVE!, Starting This Weekend in Harlem


The Mama Foundation for the Arts proudly announces the return of their acclaimed musical production, ALIVE! From the creators of Mama, I Want To Sing! -- the worldwide musical sensation -- ALIVE! is a musical celebration of a generation, featuring a full company of performers who are age 55 and over; at The Dempsey Theater in Harlem (127 West 127th Street, between Lenox and Seventh Avenues). After a hit engagement last fall and an in-depth feature on CBS-TV's "60 Minutes" (available here), ALIVE! will take the stage once again from today, April 11 to July 25.

Conceived and written by Vy Higginsen and Ken Wydro, and directed by Mr. Wydro, the show features "real people, telling real stories." The cast of ALIVE! is comprised of everyday, ordinary citizens from all walks of life; people with amazing talent who never realized their desire to perform live. Each cast member now taking center stage proves that it's never too late to live a dream. ALIVE! features a unique blend of gospel, jazz, R&B and pop music - songs that served as a soundtrack for this generation. Through the music and authentic stories and testimonies, the ALIVE! cast tells how it used to be, and how life could be going forward... at any age. They are ALIVE!... and kickin.' The show has music direction by Greg Kelly and is choreographed by Kadeem Alston-Roman, with additional choreography by Ryan Baker.

The cast of ALIVE! includes Deborah Bingham, Donna Love Brown, Matthew Brown, Matthew Burke, Robin Campos, Robin Crudup, Gladys DeJesus Mitchell, Darlene Eklou, Phyllis Harris, Theo Harris, Susie Jones, Sharon Patrick, Roberta Ross, Ricardo Vega and Renee Walker.

A two-disc CD live cast recording is currently available.

Proceeds from the production benefit The Mama Foundation for the Arts, a cultural space in Harlem with a mission to present, preserve and promote the history and fundamentals of gospel, jazz, and rhythm and blues music for current and future generations, as well as to provide quality training and employment in the performing arts to both youths and adults. A non-profit 501(c)3, the Mama Foundation for the Arts was founded in 1998 by Vy Higginsen, inspired by her musical Mama, I Want To Sing! Through the Foundation's School of Gospel, Jazz and R&B and its Gospel for Teens program, instruction in these musical art forms has been offered to young people between the ages of 13 and 19 at no cost since 2006. The Gospel for Teens program has serviced hundreds of students in the past seven years, providing desperately- needed support to musically gifted children and replacing arts programs taken out of many inner city schools.

ALIVE! will be performed Saturday afternoons at 4:00 PM from April 11 through July 25. There are additional Saturday evening 7:30 PM performances on April 18 and June 27. Note: there are no performances May 30, June 20, July 4 and July 11.Tickets for ALIVE! are available by calling the Mama Foundation for the Arts at (212) 280-1045 or through and (212) 868-4444. Tickets are $35 for general seating, $45 for front orchestra and $65 for premium seats. Seniors and students are priced at $30 with special rates for groups and parties of 10 or more, also available for $40 per ticket. For more information, visit

Directions to The Dempsey Theater via Public Transit: Subway: Number 2 or 3 express trains to 125th Street and Lenox Ave; walk two blocks north, turn left on 127th Street. Bus: M2, M3, M7 Buses to 127th Street.

VY HIGGINSEN -- noted author, playwright, radio and TV personality -- has garnered an excellent reputation and won many awards for providing excellent products and services to African American audiences. After a decade of being behind the microphone and on major New York stations (WBLS-FM, WWRL-AM, WRKS-FM), Vy published and edited Unique NY, a lifestyles magazine designed for African-Americans and tourists. In 1983, Vy co-wrote, produced and directed the classic black Gospel musical Mama I Want To Sing!, which ran for eight years and 2,200 performances at the Off-Broadway Heckscher Theater in East Harlem. In March 1986, Mama began a national tour of the USA, playing two consecutive years throughout major cities such as Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Washington. International tours include Austria, Japan, Germany, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, and Yugoslavia. Mama also played for six months on the West End of London. In March 1988, Vy co-produced Joe Turner's Come and Gone by August Wilson on Broadway. In 2002, Vy was ordained as an Interfaith Minister. Led by her passion for the sounds and music she grew up hearing, Vy conceived and created Alive! which documents the sounds, music, and stories of our black American musical landscape. Vy continues to write and produce original work as the executive director of the Emmy Award-winning Mama Foundation for the Arts in Harlem, New York.

KEN WYDRO is an active Broadway and Off-Broadway producer and investor, a seasoned stage director, a produced playwright and lyricist as well as published author. With Vy Higginsen, Ken was the co-author, producer and director of all the Mama musicals, as well as the current director and writer of the original music of Alive! and We Are, The All Teens Musical. He has been a member of The Broadway League and a Tony voter as well as the Dramatists Guild for many years. Current Broadway projects: It's Only a Play; The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime; Something Rotten; An American in Paris; Wolf Hall; An Act of God. Upcoming in Fall of 2015: On Your Feet; China Doll. His original drama, Night Fall, will be given industry readings in New York City and London this year.

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