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TheaterWorks Announces Cast and Creative for SUNSET BABY

TheaterWorks (Rob Ruggiero, Producing Artistic Director) announced today the full cast and creative team for SUNSET BABY by Dominique Morisseau directed by Reginald L. Douglas

SUNSET BABY is the 2nd show of TheaterWorks 31st Season and runs January 12 through February 19, 2017. Dominque Morisseau's seductive and poetic play sears across the social and political landscape as it grapples with tensions between a father and a daughter, sins of the past, the present, liberation and legacy.

SUNSET BABY features film icon and Hartford native Tony Todd as Kenyatta. Tony, well known from film roles in The Candyman, Final Destination among many others is also a graduate of UCONN, The Artist Collective and Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. Tony is making his TheaterWorks debut. Brittany Bellizeare (Nina) and Carlton Byrd (Damon) will also be making their TheaterWorks debuts

Producing artistic Director Rob Ruggiero said, "This play is a beautifully written story about a father and daughter and the divide between them. The language is seductive and poetic. I am excited to bring this piece to Hartford and to introduce our audiences to an amazing and important playwright. I am also thrilled to have director Reg Douglas, and actors Tony Todd, Brittany Bellizeare and Carlton Byrd working on our stage."

Sunset Baby is a smart and compelling look at the spiritual, psychological and socioeconomic imprint a parent leaves on a child. A cache of letters, written by a dead woman creates an exploration of how the sins of a parent can be visited upon a child, particularly when a long-absent father re-enters his daughter's life. In the playwright's words, "The effect that absent fathers have on their young daughters - that dynamic is so rarely examined on stage: we usually talk about the effect it has on young black boys, but what about our girls?"

A powerful and honest story of one woman's journey from a hard existence to her own liberation. SUNSET BABY is an energetic, daring look at the point where the personal and political collide. From one of the most exciting young voices in American theater, this dynamic new play about fathers and daughters sears with wit and wisdom and the politics of freedom.

The creative team includes Alexander Woodward (Set Design), Karen Perry (Costume Design), Rob Denton (Lighting Design), and Julian Evans (Sound Design).

Brittany Bellizeare (Nina) is making her TheaterWorks debut. She appeared in the world premier of The Last Tiger in Haiti as Rose (La Jolla Playhouse/Berkeley Repertory); as Camae in The Mountaintop (Northern Stage); Ruby in Seven Guitars (Two River Theatre); in the Educational touring show Sunjata Kamalenya (McCarter Theater); and the one-Act musical Archy & Mehitabel (the Yard). She has participated in various festivals in NYC including The NY Fringe and Harlem 9's 48 Hours in Harlem as well as performed at The Cell, Gallery Players in Brooklyn and The Public Theater. Her TV credits include: Eye Candy (MTV); The Knick (Cinemax); Facing Trauma (Discovery Health); Carol's Daughter - Do It Yourself (HSN). Brittany received her M.F.A from The New School for Drama and her B.S. in Mathematics from Spelman Collage. Visit www.brittanybellizeare.com. For Dad!

CARLTON BYRD (Damon) is making his TheaterWorks debut. Regional: Bad Apples (ACT Seattle); Jass (New Harmony Project); Used to Was/Maybe Did (Center Theatre Group); Antebellum (Woolly Mammoth Theatre); Romeo & Juliet (Classical Theater of Harlem); Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death (Classical Theater of Harlem); The Bacchae (International Theater Festival). Television: Castle (ABC), Major Crimes (TNT), Blue Bloods (CBS), Law & Order (NBC).Film: Life of a King, Woodlawn, Holding Patterns. Carlton is honored to have studied with Maggie Flannigan at New York's Maggie Flannigan Studio (Meisner). He is a graduate of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts (Lee Strasberg Institute, Experimental Theater Wing) and a recipient of the Ron Howard Foundation Scholarship.

Tony Todd (Kenyatta) is proud to return to Hartford where he is making his TheaterWorks debut. Other recent theater includes Ghost in the House, the one man play about the late great boxer Jack Johnson; the world premiere of The Black Odyssey at the Denver Center Theatre, the workshop of The Royale for the LATC at the Kirk Douglas Theater. Tony is proud to have been in Fences at the Geva Theatre Center; Captains Tiger at the La Jolla Playhouse, Manhattan Theater Club, and The Kennedy Center (for which he received a Helen Hayes nomination); Zooman & the Sign at Second Stage; Home and Playboy of the West Indies, at Crossroads; Les Blancs at the Arena Stage, Huntington and Seattle Rep. He originated the role of King Hedley 2nd, at Pittsburgh Public, Huntington and Seattle Rep. Tony trained at Eugene O'Neill Theater Center and Trinity Rep Conservatory. He recently starred in the hit series The Flash as the sinister character Zoom, in the HBO series Room 104, and in the Freeform series Dead of Summer. Tony's Film and TV work includes, Platoon, Lean On Me, Night of the Living Dead, The Crow, Candyman, Frankenstein, Sushi Girl, Transformers Prime, Final Destination 1,3,4,5, Le Secret, Star Trek the Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager, The Rock, Bird, The Man From Earth, Changing the Game, Hatchet 1&2, Chuck, Hawaii 5-0, Criminal Minds, Law & Order, Homicide, NYPD Blue, X-Files, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Black Fox, 24, True Women, to name a few. Upcoming films include Drive Me to Vegas or Mars, From Jennifer, West of Hell among others. Presently he is finishing his screenplay Providence and preparing his one man theater project Conversations with: Bayard Rustin, Woody Strode, and Lester Young. Tony is proud of his daughter Ariana and dedicates this performance to her, and continued world peace. @Tony Todd54

Dominique Morisseau (Playwright) writer and actress, is an alumnus of The Public Theater Emerging Writer's Group, the Women's Project Playwrights Lab, and Lark Playwrights' Workshop. Among her playwriting credits are: Detroit '67 (Public Theater; Classical Theatre of Harlem/NBT; Northlight Theatre), Sunset Baby (Labyrinth Theater Co - NYC; Gate Theater- London), and Follow Me To Nellie's (O'Neill; Premiere Stages). Her produced one-acts include: Third Grade (Fire This Time Festival); Black at Michigan (Cherry Lane); Socks, Roses Are Played Out and Love and Nappiness (Center Stage; ATH); love.lies.liberation (The NewGroup), Bumrush (Hip Hop Theater Festival) and The Masterpiece (Harlem9/HSA). Dominique is currently developing a 3-play cycle on her hometown of Detroit, entitled The Detroit Projects. Detroit '67 is the first of the series. The second play, Paradise Blue, was developed with Voice and Vision, the Hansberry Project at ACT, New York Theatre Workshop, McCarter Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and The Public Theater. Dominique's work has also been published in NY Times bestseller Chicken Soup for the African American Soul and in the Harlem-based literary journal Signifyin' Harlem. She is a Jane Chambers Playwriting Award honoree, a two-time NAACP Image Award recipient, a runner-up for the Princess Grace Award, a recipient of the Elizabeth George commission from South Coast Rep, a commendation honoree for the Primus Prize by the American Theatre Critics Association, winner of the Barrie and Bernice Stavis Playwriting Award, the Weissberger Award for Playwriting, the U of M - Detroit Center Emerging Leader Award, a Lark/PoNY (Playwrights of New York) Fellow, and a recent recipient of the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama. She is an artist that believes wholeheartedly in the power and strength of community.

REGINALD L. DOUGLAS (Director) is making his TheaterWorks debut. He is the Artistic Producer of City Theatre Company in Pittsburgh , a leading center for the development and production of bold new plays. At City, Reginald line-produces and directs in the theater's six-show season; line-produces and directs in the theater's annual Momentum Festival of New Plays; directs City's annual Young Playwrights Festival; oversees casting operations and artistic initiatives; administers City's Directing Observership program for local emerging directors; and builds community and artistic partnerships both locally and nationally. In addition to his career at City, Reginald directs extensively throughout the country, having worked at venues including the Eugene O'Neill Center, Playwrights Center, McCarter, Luna Stage, Harlem Stage, Wild Project, Signature Center, Drama League, Rattlestick, and many others. Reginald has received fellowships from New York Theater Workshop and the Lark; was a member of The Actors Studio's Playwrights and Directors Unit; has assistant directed on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and regionally; and served on the selection committees for the Jerome New York Fellowship, Jerome Many Voices Fellowships, the O'Neill's National Playwrights Conference, and the Pittsburgh Foundation's 2015 Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Awards and 2016 Pittsburgh Region Artists Program. He has lectured in directing at Point Park University and the National Theatre Institute. www.reginalddouglas.com

Rob Ruggiero (Director/Producing Artistic Director) has been a part of TheaterWorks artistic leadership for 23 years. He has directed over 50 shows, including Relativity, Sex with Strangers, THIRD, Good People, Christmas on the Rocks, Annapurna, The Other Place and Time Stands Still. Rob has earned national recognition for his work on plays and musicals. His Broadway credits include Looped (starring Valerie Harper in a Tony-nominated performance) and High (starring Kathleen Turner). Off-Broadway, he conceived and directed the original musical revue entitled Make Me a Song: The Music of William Finn (Nominated for the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle Awards). Rob conceived and directed the world premiere musical portrait of Ella Fitzgerald entitled Ella, which was seen on more than 24 regional theater stages from 2005-2010 before beginning a National Tour. His work has received multiple awards and recognition here in Connecticut, as well as in other cities around the United States. Rob most recently directed La Cage aux Folles, his ninth collaboration with Goodspeed Musicals where he also directed highly successful productions of Fiddler on the Roof (Connecticut Critic's Circle Award for Best Direction), The Most Happy Fella (Connecticut Critic's Circle Award for Best Direction), Carousel (Broadway World Award), Annie Get Your Gun, Camelot, Big River, 1776 and a new adaptation of Show Boat (Connecticut Critic's Circle Award for Best Direction). This new version is now being licensed by the Rogers & Hammerstein Organization. www.robruggiero.com


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