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Stars of JITNEY, COME FROM AWAY Set for LEAP's NYC August Wilson Monologue Competition Event

Stars of JITNEY, COME FROM AWAY Set for LEAP's NYC August Wilson Monologue Competition EventLEAP will present the 9th annual New York City August Wilson Monologue Competition. A total of 18 LEAP students from nine New York City high schools will inhabit Wilson's characters and bring them to life.

The NYC event will be hosted by arts activist and public speaker Monica Montgomery (Founder, Museum Hue and the Museum of Impact). Broadway's Michael Potts ("Jitney") will provide a special greeting, with performances by Q Smith ("Come From Away," now in previews), Tony Chiroldes ("In the Heights," original Broadway cast) and Jessica Frances Dukes ("Bootycandy," Playwrights Horizons). Acclaimed music director Frank Spitznagel will be on piano.

In this comprehensive LEAP program, students study and perform monologues from Wilson's Century Cycle, 10 plays chronicling the African-American experience in the 20th century. This competition is the culmination of LEAP's August Wilson Program and Monologue Competition, part of a nationwide initiative, which introduces new generations of high school students to the works of renowned playwright August Wilson, while exploring African-American history. Student performers are ranked based on a variety of criteria, including energy, physical presentation and emotional connectedness.

Two winners and an alternate will be chosen from these 18 contestants to move on to the National August Wilson Competition (May 1, 7 pm, at the August Wilson Theatre on Broadway, presented by Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company and Jujamcyn Theaters, hosted by Leon).

In addition, celebrity judges will include Terry Berliner, Rosalyn Coleman Williams, Jolie Garrett, Gary John LaRosa, Jamil A.C. Mangan - all theater professionals from Broadway and Off-Broadway.

"With 'Fences' as a major motion picture and a phenomenal new production of 'Jitney' on Broadway, this is an extraordinary year to celebrate August Wilson's plays," said Michael Perreca, LEAP's Artistic Director of Theater Programs. "For these students and these schools, the citywide competition is a highly anticipated event. Our students compete with passion and heart. What a way to honor this groundbreaking playwright's legacy. It is not to be missed."

Student semi-finalists from the following schools will perform:

QUEENS:

Hillcrest High School

Jack Sainterme, Sabrina Hector; Alternate: Mardoche Rosembert

MANHATTAN:

Repertory Company High School for Theatre Arts

Noor Alnashash, John Rodriguez; Alternate: Cherish Patton

BRONX:

Belmont Preparatory High School

Randol Javier, Cindy Garcia; Alternate: Noel Siley

BROOKLYN:

Edward R. Murrow High School

Sarah Rodriguez, Shellvia Lazarre; Alternate. Ava Renz

Brooklyn School for Music & Theatre

Korey Holloway, Giesala Jacques. Alternate: Nayah Martin

EBC High School for Public Service

Noel Castillo, Nayelly Rojas

John Jay School for Law

Nia Singleton, Hanifah Johnson; Alternate: Adoni Williams

Juan Morel Campos Secondary School

Ronita Gordon, Michelle Morales; Alternate: Norma Reyes

Spring Creek Community School

Natalya Gammon, Saman Bakayoko; Alternate: Leah Harris

LEAP is a nonprofit organization committed to improving the quality of public education through a unique, hands-on, arts-based approach to teaching the core curriculum. Since 1977, LEAP has provided more than two million pre-K to 12th grade students in underserved communities throughout New York City with music, dance, theater, film and visual arts programs that are integrated into academic instruction. For more information, visit leapnyc.org.

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