Karamu House Presents Regional Premiere of SASSY MAMAS

Karamu House Presents Regional Premiere of SASSY MAMAS

Karamu House, the oldest multicultural performing arts center in the country, continues its mission to produce socially-relevant, professional-quality entertainment.

Karamu presents the regional premiere of Sassy Mamas from February 8 through March 4, 2018. Performances of this spicy, romantic comedy written by NAACP Image Award-winner Celeste Bedford Walker will be held in the Arena Theatre located at 2355 East 89th Street, Cleveland, Ohio.

In the autumns of their lives, three sophisticated and successful women find themselves living single and ready to mingle...but this time with much (much) younger men. A recent widow, a divorcée, and a career woman all use their Washington, D.C. social status and wealth to ensnare their younger male suitors. But don't you dare call them "cougars,"...they would prefer "black panthers."

Sassy Mamas explores the dynamics between the sexes, and highlights when a woman knows what she wants...she knows how to get it. This "sex-positive story about romance and friendship" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE) has played at The Ensemble Theatre, Houston, TX; The M Ensemble Company, Miami, FL; Hattiloo Theatre, Memphis, TN; as well as Sparkling City Entertainment at Theatre Theatre, Los Angeles, LA which earned three NAACP Theatre Awards in 2016, including Best Ensemble Cast, Best Director, and Best Set Design.

Directed by Tony F. Sias, Karamu President and CEO, this fun, feisty romp features Jeanne Madison, Kimberly Sias, Rebecca Morris, Michael Head, Bryon Tobin, and Cameron Woods.

Playwright Celeste Bedford Walker's award-winning canon includes over forty plays, videos, documentaries and films that have been performed and viewed in major venues across the country. She has received numerous commissions to write dramas, comedies, and musicals for theaters, schools, museums, and organizations. Recognized by the U.S. Congress for her historical contribution as producer and author of works that bring to light lost stories of African American history, Walker has received several honors and awards in theatre including: New York's AUDELCO nominations and awards; The Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP Theatre Award for Best Playwright for her play Camp Logan in 2013; she was a finalist for the international Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for outstanding work by a female playwright; and she received the National Black Theatre's August Wilson Playwriting Award, among others. Walker's work is also featured in the anthology "Acting Up and Getting Down," published by the University of Texas Press.

A Houston, TX native, Playwright Walker shares, "Sassy Mamas really speaks to women's empowerment. I feel that it particularly resonates in our current socio-political climate, because the highly functioning women in [the play]-like the women of today-are not content to accept that it's just "a man's world." It's a woman's world too, and they want their choices to be treated with respect from the boardroom to the bedroom. Women today of all ages refuse to have their options confined by ageism, sexism, conservatism, liberalism or any other kind of "ism." They are stepping up and stepping out of the shadows of patriarchy. They are "Sassy Mamas!"

At the helm of the Cleveland production at Karamu is Tony F. Sias, President and CEO of Karamu House who has been leading the institution since October 2015. A highly respected director, performer, educator and executive, Sias directed for the 2017 world premiere production of Believe In Cleveland, in partnership with and commissioned by Playhouse Square, Cuyahoga Community College, and the Carl Stokes 50th Anniversary commission. He most recently directed George C. Wolfe's The Colored Museum at Cuyahoga Community College, which transferred to Playhouse Square's Ohio Theatre. He has directed West Side Story, Footloose, Carmen Jones, Free Man of Color, A Decade of Dreams, In the Continuum, Summer Nights and Fireflies, Dreamgirls, Guys & Dolls, and Mr. Richey Calls a Meeting. His acting credits include On the Road with Duke, Angels in American (parts 1 & 2), Black Eagles, Big River, Oak and Ivy, Jazz Poet on Broadway, and the title role in the one-man show Paul Robeson. Sias is a graduate of Jackson State University (MS) with a Bachelor of Science in dramatic art, and holds an MFA in acting from The Ohio University.

The design team includes scenery and costumes design by Inda Blatch-Geib, lighting design by Colleen Albrecht, and sound design by Jeremy Dobbins. Tickets range from $15-$37 and can be reserved online via www.karamuhouse.org or by calling 216.795.7077.

Other productions rounding out Karamu's 2017-18 season include The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God by Lisa Codrington (March 15-April 8, 2018), and Passing Strange written by Stew and Heidi Rodewald (May 10-June 3, 2018).


In 1915, Oberlin College graduates Russell and Rowena Jelliffe opened the Playhouse Settlement in a Cleveland area called The Roaring Third. The Jelliffes wanted to build an environment where people of different races, religions, and social and economic backgrounds could come together to seek and share common ventures through the arts, and Karamu House was established as a gathering place for racially-diverse members of the surrounding community at that time. As the community became predominantly African American, Karamu responded with programs geared to their needs and interests. Today, Karamu is evolving to be reborn as a beating heart for the entire community, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identification, or age, as it embarks on its second 100 years, retaining its historical identity as "a place of joyful gathering." Core programs include a five-performance, socially-relevant and professional quality theatre season; arts education in drama/theatre, music and dance for all ages; and community programming, such as a lecture series, and spoken word and music performances, that invites participation and engagement, reflection, and a re-commitment to cultural values. For more information about Karamu, visit us online at www.karamuhouse.org.

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