Jubilant Sykes, Kecia Lewis-Evans and More Join Hartford Stage's BREATH & IMAGINATION; Full Cast Announced!


Hartford Stage, under the leadership of Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak and Managing Director Michael Stotts, today announced the full cast and creative team for the world premiere of Breath & Imagination, play and original songs by Daniel Beaty, directed by Darko Tresnjak, on stage from January 10 through February 9.

Before Marian Anderson and Paul Robeson, there was Roland Hayes - the first world-renowned African-American classical vocalist. Born the son of a slave, Roland discovered his voice as a young boy singing spirituals in church. A world premiere, Breath & Imagination, chronicles his amazing journey from a plantation in Georgia, to singing before kings and queens in Europe. At the heart of the story is Roland's loving, yet complex relationship with his mother - his Angel Mo'. Breath & Imagination explores the life of an American pioneer through traditional spirituals and classical music, as well as original songs by Daniel Beaty.

A classically-trained American baritone, Jubilant Sykes (Sacred Music USA's Vocalist of the Year) will portray Roland Hayes. Kecia Lewis-Evans (Broadway's Leap of Faith, Chicago and Once on This Island) will portray Roland Hayes' mother, Angel Mo'. Tom Frey (2 Pianos/4 Hands) will complete the cast as The Accompanist/Officer/Pa/Preacher/Mr. Calhoun/Miss Robinson/ Frenchman/King George V/The Horse.

The creative team features set design by David P. Gordon (Goodspeed's A Little Night Music and City of Angels); costume design by Fabio Toblini (Hartford Stage's The Tempest, Bell, Book and Candle and Hedda Gabler); lighting design by York Kennedy (upcoming Broadway premiere of A Time to Kill); music direction by Mike Ruckles (Associate Musical Director for Hartford Stage's A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder); and sound design by Jane Shaw (The Merchant of Venice, directed by Darko Tresnjak).

Director Darko Tresnjak joinEd Hartford Stage in 2011 as Artistic Director and directed Bell, Book and Candle, The Tempest and A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder at Hartford Stage in 2012. He was the Artistic Director of The Old Globe Shakespeare Festival in San Diego from 2004-2009. His directing credits at The Old Globe include The Women, The Pleasure of His Company, Bell, Book and Candle, Cyrano de Bergerac, Coriolanus, All's Well That Ends Well, Hamlet, Titus Adronicus, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Winter's Tale, A Comedy of Errors, Antony and Cleopatra, The Two Noble Kinsmen, and Pericles. Recent directing credits include the national tour of The Merchant of Venice, starring F. Murray Abraham; City of Angels at Goodspeed Musicals; and Titus Adronicus at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.

Breath & Imagination is produced in association with City Theatre in Pittsburgh.

Press Night: 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 16.
Opening Night: 8 p.m. on Friday, January 18.

Recommended for ages 12 and up.

The production runs January 11 through February 9. Evening performances are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday at 7:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.; and a special Stay/Play performance at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 30. Matinee performances are Sundays, and select Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2 p.m. For a more specific schedule of performances or to buy tickets for Breath & Imagination, call the Hartford Stage box office at 860-527-5151 or visit www.hartfordstage.org.

Library Talks take place at 7:30 p.m. January 3 at the West Hartford Public Library, 20 S. Main Street, West Hartford, and at 7 p.m. on January 9 at Prosser Library, One Tunxis Avenue, Bloomfield. Senior Dramaturg ElizaBeth Williamson gives community talks on each show in the season, at the West Hartford and Bloomfield Public Libraries.

Darko's Den takes place at 5:45 p.m. January 15, before the 7:30 p.m. performance. Join Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak and his guests for cocktails as they discuss the "why's and how's of creating theatre." Tickets are $21 (performance not included) and can be purchased at hartfordstage.org.

The Producer's Table takes place at 5:45 p.m. January 24, before the 7:30 p.m. performance. Managing Director Mike Stotts hosts a pre-show dinner, where he gives you a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to produce a play. Tickets are $21 (performance not included) and can be purchased at hartfordstage.org.

Dinner + Design takes place at 5:45 p.m. January 16. Technical Director Aaron Bleck shares what it takes to create the theatrical worlds of our season. Learn more about the magic that happens backstage while enjoying a pre-show dinner. (Dinner at 6 p.m. before the 7:30 p.m. curtain.) Tickets are $21 (performance not included) and can be purchased at hartfordstage.org.

The AfterWords Discussions take place January 22, 23, 29 and 30. Join members of the cast and our Artistic staff for a free discussion, immediately following 7:30 p.m. performances on Tuesdays or 2 p.m. matinees on Wednesdays. FREE.

The Sunday Afternoon Discussion takes place January 20. Enjoy a lecture from artists and scholars connected with the production immediately following the 2 p.m. matinee. FREE.

FreeView takes place at 12 p.m. January 17. A preview of select scenes from the production followed by an intimate Q & A session with the actors and director. Enter to win great prizes and receive special show discounts just for attending.

LGBT Night Out takes place at 6:15 p.m. January 17. Pre-show nosh and complimentary wine (plus drink specials at the bar) for our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patrons. FREE.

Hartford Stage, since its founding in 1963, has been known for innovative revivals of classics and the development of important new works, including 65 World or American premieres. Recent work includes Quiara Alegria Hudes' Water by the Spoonful, winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama; Horton Foote's The Orphans' Home Cycle which had a celebrated run at the Signature Theatre in New York during the 2009-2010 season; a landmark production of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird; the premieres of Michael Kramer's Divine Rivalry; and Daniel Beaty's Resurrection (later retitled Through the Night, which had a successful run off-Broadway during the 2010-11 season). In 1998 the theatre launched an unprecedented ten-year retrospective of Tennessee Williams, which included the premiere of three plays. Other new work includes the premieres of Eve Ensler's Necessary Targets, Edward Albee's At Home at the Zoo, Matthew Barber's Enchanted April (which transferred to Broadway), Matthew Lombardo's Tea at Five, and many others. The theatre has earned numerous distinguished honors, including a Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre, the Margo Jones Award, OBIE awards, New York Critics Circle and Drama Desk awards. In 2005 Hartford Stage was awarded The Hartford Courant's Tapestry Award recognizing its outstanding work in diversity, and in 2008 it was awarded the Bank of America Neighborhood Builder's Award recognizing its excellence in building community in Greater Hartford. Hartford Stage is currently under the leadership of Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak and Managing Director Michael Stotts.

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