Cleveland Play House Celebrates the 'Godmother of Rock and Roll' with MARIE AND ROSETTA

By: Dec. 21, 2017
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Cleveland Play House Celebrates the 'Godmother of Rock and Roll' with MARIE AND ROSETTA

Cleveland Play House (CPH) is proud to bring George Brant's Marie and Rosetta to the Allen Theatre stage. Marie and Rosetta chronicles the story of 2018 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Early Influence Inductee Sister Rosetta Tharpe and her counterpart Marie Knight as they changed the landscape of modern music. Miche Braden will make her return to Cleveland Play House as Sister Rosetta Tharpe alongside CPH newcomer Chaz Hodges as Marie Knight. Directed by Neil Pepe, Marie and Rosetta runs January 20 through February 11, 2018 in the Allen Theatre at Playhouse Square.

"I am thrilled to be working with Miche Braden and Chaz Hodges," says Marie and Rosetta Director Neil Pepe. "They are both outstanding actors and I have been a great fan of their work for some time. Some may remember Miche's terrific performance as Bessie Smith in (the CPH Production of) The Devil's Music, and Chaz has been doing wonderful work on the west coast and had originally played the role of Marie in two developmental workshops. It will be so wonderful to see them bring Marie and Rosetta to life in Cleveland."

"I couldn't be more excited about our cast," says Playwright George Brant. "I had the great pleasure of seeing the mesmerizing Miche Braden in The Devil's Music here in Cleveland a few years ago, and her performance in some ways inspired me to write Marie and Rosetta in the first place. For her to now be taking on the role of Sister Rosetta Tharpe here at CPH feels like a very fortunate full circle. In a similar vein, I can't wait to officially work with Chaz Hodges in the role of Marie Knight. Chaz workshopped the play twice and greatly influenced the character's development; her combination of vulnerability and sense of humor are a rare gift."


Miche Braden (Sister Rosetta Tharpe) was last seen on the CPH stage as Bessie/music director in The Devil's Music: The Life & Blues of Bessie Smith. Since then, TDM has enjoyed extended runs in MA, CA, D.C., and a Blues Cruise. She and TDM have multi nominations including the Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, Carbonell, Off-Broadway Alliance, Audelco, LA Critics Choice, Beyond Broadway (LA & DC), and Connecticut Critics' Awards. Miche has appeared in and served as musical director/arranger in many stage productions including The People's Temple, Gee's Bend, The Bluest Eye, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill, and two NYMF shows, Acappella: The Musical (Best Ensemble) and The Goree All Girl String Band. Miche was a member of the band Rough Magic in three productions of The Tempest. She served as Musical Director for the South Coast Repertory production in Costa Mesa, CA earning her an LA Critics Nomination. She did vocal arrangements for Spike Lee's Da Sweet Blood of Jesus and has appeared on Law & Order SVU. She has recorded with Regina Carter, James Carter, Gayelynn McKinney, Postmodern Jukebox, and her CD Diva Out Of Bounds. Her performance is dedicated to the memory of her mother Dr. Mildred J. Dobey, who last saw her perform at CPH before passing away in 2013.

CHAZ HODGES (Marie Knight) received her Masters of Fine Arts from UCSD in San Diego. Regional credits at La Jolla Playhouse: In the Red and Brown Water (Oya), A Lie of the Mind (Beth),Little Children Dream of God (Madison). She performed with The Ubuntu Theatre Project: Dance of the Holy Ghost (Viola) and Hurt Village (Cookie) which landed her a TBA Award nomination as best actress in a leading role. She's also performed at The New Harmony Playwriting Festival, The Ojai New Play Festival, The Denver Center New Play Festival, and The Guthrie Theatre New Griots Festival. Film include: Lifetime's My Crazy Ex (Tamara) and BET's Reflections (Holly). The Wind and the Breeze (Nia) at The Cygnet Theatre in San Diego is her next production after Marie and Rosetta.

KARYN SMITH (Guitarist) A native New Yorker, Karyn's repertoire covers Segovia to Hendrix.

Certified in professional jazz guitar from Berklee School of music; endorsed by Brian Moore custom guitars. Taught guitar master classes and performed at Kevin Wilson's annual international musicians summit, NC with Isaiah Sharkey (John Mayer), Eric Gales, Paul Jackson Jr. (Michael Jackson), Mark Lettieri (Snarky Puppy), Erick Walls (Whitney Houston), and Cassandra O'Neil (Prince). Played in Jessica Care-Moore, poet and founder of The Black Women Rock Orchestra in Detroit, Michigan and opened for Erykah Badu. Toured with Toli Almasi's all women's world music band, The Femmnameless. Performed for the 45th anniversary tribute concert for Jimi Hendrix at BB Kings NYC. Plays traditional Gospel music on bass and acoustic guitar for The Tabernacle Baptist Church. Leads Girlz Nite Out-The Collective, a Blues, Jazz-fusion, Rock and Soul band of female musicians, including Elizabeth Ames (Chuck Berry) on keys. Karyn performs with accuracy in Gospel, Blues, Jazz and Rock n Roll.

KATREESE BARNES (Pianist) is a two-time Emmy Award-Winning Music Director/Composer/Pianist from Saturday Night Live (2000-11), writing music for hit sketches including Dick In a Boxfeaturing Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake, What Up With That, The Lawrence Welk Show, and I'm Not Gonna Sing Tonight. Bandleader and Music Director for The Rosie O'Donnell Show on OWN and Oh Sit on the CW Network; co-Produced the Grammy Nominated Roberta by Roberta Flack and Grammy-winning Woman I Am by Chaka Khan. As a background vocalist, keyboardist, and saxophonist she has toured and recorded with Sting, Bette Midler, Billy Joel, Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey, Carly Simon, and many others. She was the lead vocalist of the group Juicy, writing and performing the hit song "Sugar Free" on Epic Records. Creator of the live stream show Welcome 2 My House at which has featured Tony Terry, Valerie Simpson, and a host of up and coming singer/songwriters.


Neil Pepe (Director) Recent directing credits include the New York premiere of Simon Stephens' On the Shore of the Wide World, world premieres of George Brant's Marie and Rosetta, Kenneth Lonergan's Hold On To Me Darling and David Mamet's The Penitent all at the Atlantic Theater Company in NYC. Broadway credits include the musical Hands on a Hardbody, the acclaimed revival of David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow, and A Life in the Theatre. Off-Broadway: John Guare's 3 Kinds of Exile; Moira Buffini's Dying For It; Jez Butterworth's Parlour Song, Mojo and The Night Heron; Ethan Coen's Happy Hour, Offices, and Almost an Evening; Harold Pinter's Celebration and The Room; Adam Rapp's Dreams of Flying Dreams of Falling; Joe Penhall's Blue/Orange; Hilary Bell'sWolf Lullaby; David Pittu's What's That Smell?; Howard Korder's Sea of Tranquility, Edwin Sanchez' Clean, Quincy Long's Shaker Heights (all at Atlantic); David Mamet's American Buffalo(Donmar Warehouse, Atlantic); Romance, Keep Your Pantheon, and School (Center Theatre Group, Atlantic); Zinnie Harris' Further than the Furthest Thing (Manhattan Theatre Club); Jessica Goldberg's Refuge (Playwrights Horizons); Tom Donaghy's The Beginning of August (South Coast Repertory, Atlantic). Frank Gilroy's The Subject Was Roses with Martin Sheen (CTG) and Eric Bogosian's Red Angel (Williamstown Theatre Festival). Neil has been the Artistic Director of the award-winning Off-Broadway company, Atlantic Theater Company since 1992.

George Brant (Playwright) plays include Grounded (running Jan 19th - Feb 11th at Dobama Theatre), Elephant's Graveyard, Into the Breeches!, The Mourners' Bench, Salvage, Three Voyages of the Lobotomobile, One Hand Clapping, Any Other Name, Night of the Mime, Dark Room and Grizzly Mama. His work has been produced internationally by such companies as The Public Theater, Cleveland Play House, the Atlantic Theater Company, Trinity Repertory Company, Alley Theatre, City Theatre, London's Gate Theatre, Page 73, Studio Theatre, and the Traverse Theatre, among others. Brant's plays have been generously developed by New Harmony Project, the Playwrights' Center, Asolo Rep, Theatre @ Boston Court, Bay Area Playwrights Festival and WordBRIDGE Playwright's Lab. His scripts have been awarded a Lucille Lortel Award, an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award, the Smith Prize, the Keene Prize for Literature, an NNPN Rolling World Premiere, a Scotsman Fringe First Award, an Off-West End Theatre Award, three Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Awards, a Creative Workforce Fellowship and the Theatre Netto Festival Grand Prize. Brant has received writing fellowships from the McCarter Theatre Center, the MacDowell Colony, the Hermitage Artist Retreat, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program and the Blue Mountain Center, as well as commissions from the Metropolitan Opera, Trinity Repertory, Theatre 4, and Dobama Theatre. George received his MFA in Writing from the James A. Michener Center for Writers at U-T Austin and is a member of the Dramatists Guild. He is published by Samuel French, Oberon Books, and Smith & Kraus. He is proud to call Cleveland home.

The Design Team for Marie and Rosetta includes: Steve Broadnax III (Associate Director), Seth Farber (Music Director/Music Supervisor), RICCARDO HERNÁNDEZ (Scenic Designer), Dede Ayite (Costume Designer), Christopher Akerlind (Lighting Designer), Steve Kennedy (Sound Designer), Cookie Jordan (Wig Design), The Stage Manager for this production is JENIFER MORROW, and Assistant Stage Manager TOM HUMES.


CPH will hold a "Rock Like Rosetta!" Cover Song Contest now through January 5, 2018. Open to all, participants are encouraged to showcase their talents by choosing one of five iconic Sister Rosetta Tharpe songs and submitting a video cover song for a chance to perform at the Opening Night cast party of the show on January 26, 2018. All entries will receive a discount code for tickets to a performance of their choice (based on availability). Select covers will be featured on the CPH Social Media channels, and the top 3 covers will win free tickets to a performance of Marie and Rosetta. All bands or performers entering the contest grant permission to CPH to use the band's performance submission on its social media networks and for promotional purposes. No ticket purchases are necessary to win, and full rules and details can be found online at: Entries will be accepted through January 5, and all contestants will be notified about the results on or before January 19, 2018.


Marie and Rosetta will be performed in the Allen Theatre at Playhouse Square January 20-February 11, 2018. Tickets range in price from $25-$110 each, $15 rush tickets for currently enrolled students under age 25 with valid student ID, and Young Professional discounts available with YP-CPH Membership. To order single tickets please call 216-241-6000 or visit Groups of 10+ save up to 50% off single ticket prices; call 216-400-7027.

Subscriptions: Subscribers save up to 17%. Flexible season packages available. To purchase subscriptions or get more information, call 216-400-7096 or visit

ABOUT Cleveland Play House

Cleveland Play House, founded in 1915 and recipient of the 2015 Regional Theatre Tony Award, is America's first professional regional theatre. Throughout its rich history, CPH has remained dedicated to its mission to inspire, stimulate, and entertain diverse audiences across Northeast Ohio by producing plays and theatre education programs of the highest professional standards. CPH has produced more than 100 world and/or American premieres, and over its long history more than 12 million people have attended over 1,600 productions. Today, Cleveland Play House celebrates the beginning of its second century of service while performing in three state-of-the art venues at Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland.

Cleveland Play House is made possible in part by state tax dollars allocated by the Ohio Legislature to the Ohio Arts Council (OAC). The OAC is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically.