'Five Fingers of Funk' Debuts at Children's Theatre Company in MN 10/24

Classic 70s funk infuses pioneering hip hop theater artist Will Power’s fierce new coming-of-age tale, debuting October 24 at The Children’s Theatre Company (CTC). FIVE FINGERS OF FUNK, created by Power in collaboration with composer Justin Ellington and director Derrick Sanders, runs through November 16 on the Cargill Stage as the first show in the ctc4teens season.

In bringing FIVE FINGERS OF FUNK to the stage, CTC Artistic Director Peter Brosius says, “Like the recent Passing Strange and Spring Awakening, this show is completely new, completely unique. When we opened our Cargill Theatre with Flow and experienced the intensity, power and creativity of Will Power, I knew that I wanted him to create something new for CTC. He is a rare and unique artist, generous of spirit, prodigious in his talent, and vital in his theatricality.”

Will Power, the creator of Flow, the solo tour-de-force seen world-wide, is widely regarded as one of the leaders in hip hop theater.  Says Power, “Funk was the soundtrack of my childhood. As I grew into a man and turned to hip hop as my main form of creative expression, I borrowed from the funk. It’s the foundation for what I do today. I wanted to create a piece rooted in my coming-of-age experiences but one that is relevant to today’s audiences and to the Twin Cities. As the home turf of Prince and The Time, Minneapolis was one of the epicenters of funk.”

It’s the 1970s and the mystical guru of all things groovy—the soulful Dr. Funk—opens the show with an introduction to the members of the newly formed band, “The Five Fingers of Funk.” The band has big dreams and one goal: to win the contest at Dee Dee’s Nightclub. When struggles with parents, bosses, the neighborhood drug dealer and their own inner demons test the group, the music’s the thing that holds them together. Humor, talent and dedication to the funkalicious fingerings of classic 70s funk music drive this new musical, recipient of a prestigious Joyce Award.

Power is co-composing the music for the show with Justin Ellington, whose work as a composer/sound designer with ALLIANCE THEATRE of Atlanta helped earn the company the 2007 Tony Award for Best Regional Theater.  Director Derrick Sanders is the founding artistic director of Congo Square Theatre Company in Chicago and was the director of the Lortel and Audelco-nominated King Hedley Off-Broadway for Signature Theatre.

“The idea of exploring the fabric of teenage American life through funk music intrigues me immensely,” says Sanders. “I think there could be no better reflection on the climate today than using the passion of the funk to explore the heights of possiblity and the depths of corruption that existed in the 70s and still echo today.”

FIVE FINGERS OF FUNK features a cast of eight actors who also serve as the show’s on-stage musicians: Keith Hale as Big Ced, Jahi Kearse as Poppo, Traci Allen as Ruby, Namir Smallwood as DP, Matthew Rein as Falcon, Edwin Lee Gibson in several roles including Dr. Funk, Greta Oglesby as Big Ced’s Momma and Dee Dee, and Steve Sweere also in several roles including Falcon’s Pa.

FIVE FINGERS OF FUNK opens Friday, October 24 (previews begin Tuesday, October 21), and plays through Sunday, November 16. The show is most enjoyed by ages 13 and older. Tickets range from $20–$35 for adults and $14–$29 for children (17 & under), students and seniors. Tickets are on sale at (612) 874-0400 or www.childrenstheatre.org.

The Children’s Theatre Company (CTC) is the first theatre for young people to win the coveted Tony® Award for Outstanding Regional Theater (2003). Founded in 1965, CTC serves over 300,000 people annually and is one of the 20 largest theater companies in the nation. The company is noted for defining worldwide standards for youth theatre with an innovative mix of classic tales, celebrated international productions and challenging new work.

Tickets: (612) 874-0400 or www.childrenstheatre.org

The Children’s Theatre Company FIVE FINGERS OF FUNK

Performance Schedule

Tue Oct 21       7:30pm PREVIEW
Wed Oct 22     7:30pm PREVIEW
Thu Oct 23       7:30pm PREVIEW
Fri Oct 24        8:00pm OPENING
Sat Oct 25       4:00 & 8:00pm
Sun Oct 26       1:00 & 4:00pm
Thu Oct 30       7:3opm
Fri Oct 31        8:00pm
Sat Nov 1        4:00 & 8:00pm
Sun Nov 2        1:00 & 4:00pm
Thu Nov 6        7:30pm
Fri Nov 7         8:00pm
Sat Nov 8        4:00 & 8:00pm
Sun Nov 9        1:00 & 4:00pm
Thu Nov 13      7:3opm
Fri Nov 14       8:00pm
Sat Nov 15      4:00 & 8:00pm
Sun Nov 16      1:00 & 4:00pm


Will Power (Playwright, Composer) is an award-winning actor, rapper, playwright, and educator. His adaptation of the Greek tragedy Seven Against Thebes, retitled The Seven, enjoyed a successful Off-Broadway run at the New York Theater Workshop in 2006 and The La Jolla Playhouse in 2008. His solo show Flow was featured in the Hip Hop Theater Festival before touring nationally and internationally to critical acclaim. Power’s numerous awards include a Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical, the TCG Peter Zeisler Memorial Award, a Jury Award for Best Theatre Performance at the HBO US Comedy Arts Festival, a Drama Desk Award nomination, and the Trailblazer Award from The National Black Theater Network. Power’s numerous film and television appearances include The Steven Colbert Report (Comedy Central), and Bill Moyers on Faith and Reason (PBS).

Justin Ellington’s (Composer, Orchestrations, Music Director) music for the ALLIANCE THEATRE’s Topdog/Underdog, King Hedley II, Shakespeare’s R&J, Ferdinand and the Bull, and Androcles the Lion were part of the body of work that led to the Atlanta-based company’s 2007 Tony Award for Best Regional Theater. Additional Atlanta credits include shows for Push Push Theatre); Sisters (Jomandi); Psalm 13 (7 Stages Theatre); A Negro Dance Lesson (Horizons Theatre, Clark Atlanta University, 7 Stages, Georgia State University, and Total Dance. His regional credits include shows for La Jolla Playhouse, Goodman Theatre/Congo Square, Made n Da Shade/Cosmic Theatre Amsterdam, New York Theatre Workshop, and St. Louis Black Repertory. Upcoming projects include A Twelfth Night (Bristol Riverside Theatre) and Class of 3000 (ALLIANCE THEATRE). Ellington is a member of Multi-Platinum Production Company Bangladesh, responsible for hit records of Ludacris, Kelis, Missy Elliott, Lil Wayne, Busta Rhymes, and others. 

Derrick Sanders (Director) is the Founding Artistic Director of Congo Square Theatre Company. His most recent credits include August Wilson’s 20th Century Cycle at the Kennedy Center, Joe Turner’s Come And Gone at Center Stage, Elmina’s Kitchen and Stick Fly with True Colors Theatre in Atlanta, and his Off-Broadway debut with King Hedley II for Signature Theatre (which he received two Lucille Lortel and Audelco nominations). He received three JEFF nominations for Joe Turner’s Come And Gone, directed the world premiere of the Jeff-nominated Deep Azure, as well as Seven Guitars, for which he received a BTAA and JEFF Award for Best Director and Black Excellence Award for Best Producer. He was part of August Wilson’s world premiere productions of Radio Golf and Gem of the Ocean on Broadway and at the Huntington Theatre, Mark Taper Forum and The Goodman. He was named 2005 Chicago Tribunes’ Chicagoan of the Year in Theater.

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