Hip Hop And Gospel Unite As McCarter Presents Regina Taylor's CROWNS

Hip Hop And Gospel Unite As McCarter Presents Regina Taylor's CROWNSFifteen years after its world premiere at McCarter Theatre Center, Crowns is returning. When Yolanda's brother is killed on the streets of Chicago, the shaken teenager is sent to live with her grandmother in South Carolina, where she embarks on a journey toward discovering her place in the world, and in her family. Produced in association with Long Wharf Theatre, Crowns runs March 13 - April 1 in McCarter's Matthews Theatre.

In anticipation of the anniversary production, Crowns has been revisited by creator and director Regina Taylor, with the narrative being told from the teen's perspective as she deals with her past and her newfound sense of self. The music and movement have been refreshed, with the talents of collaborating composers Jaret Landon, Diedre Murray, and Drama Desk award winner (In Transit) Chesney Snow creating a lush and captivating new musical soundscape merging gospel, soul, and hip-hop.

Inspired by the best-selling book by Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry, Crowns weaves faith and fashion together into an inspirational, joyous coming-of-age musical celebration of triumphant African American women, their church hats, and the traditions and love passed from generation to generation. A show called "warm, wise, and wonderful" by The Star-Ledger, Crowns is the winner of numerous Helen Hayes Awards (including Best Production, Best Musical, and Best Director) and is one of the most produced works in the United States.

McCarter Artistic Director Emily Mann said: "Crowns is one of the most beloved productions in the history of this theater, and represents a great bringing together of communities and generations. It's an amazing story about women with the grit, the courage and the faith to carry on and keep moving forward. I'm deeply proud and incredibly excited to see it reborn on the Matthews Stage."

Crowns features renowned gospel vocalist Shari Addison (Mother Shaw) alongside on-the-rise actress and Rider University graduate Gabrielle Beckford as Yolanda. Shari and Gabrielle are joined by a collection of Broadway veterans including Lawrence Clayton (The Color Purple), Rebecca E. Covington (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical), gospel vocalist and songwriter Latice Crawford (Diary of a Church Girl), Stephanie Pope (Pippin), and Danielle K. Thomas (Avenue Q). Additionally, each performance of Crowns will include a featured soloist from the Central New Jersey area (casting TBA).

The design team includes Choreographer Dianne McIntyre, Musical Director Jaret Landon, Composers Diedre Murray and Chesney Snow, Set and Projections by Caite Hevner, Costumes by Emilio Sosa, Lighting by Bradley King, Sound by Robert Kaplowitz, Wig, Hair, and makeup by J. Jared Janas and Dave Bova, and Projection Design by Rasean Davonte Johnson. Musical Director Jaret Landon will be joined each night in performance by Drumfolk Riddim Specialist David Pleasant. Full bios for cast and design team below.

McCarter Theatre Center is one of America's leading regional theaters and is the only organization in this country that is a professional producing theater and simultaneously a presenter of major performing artists. Winner of the 1994 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre, recent world premiere plays include Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (2013 Tony Award - Best Play); Miss Witherspoon; The Brother/Sister Plays; Me, Myself & I; Having Our Say; The Convert; and Crowns. Other plays include Broadway productions of Translations, Anna in the Tropics (Pulitzer Prize), and Electra. McCarter is a presenter of world renowned artists such as Lang Lang, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Wynton Marsalis, David Sedaris and many others. Our education/outreach efforts serve tens of thousands through student matinees, in-school residencies, adult education classes, and more. McCarter is supported by contributions from Princeton University, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, many corporations and foundations and from over 2,000 individuals. Discover more at mccarter.org.

PRODUCTION FACTS
Crowns - Creative, Production, and Design Team
Artistic Director/Resident Playwright: Emily Mann
Interim Managing Director: Harold Wolpert
Produced in association with Long Wharf Theatre
Written and Directed by: Regina Taylor
Adapted from the Book by: Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry
Choreographer: Dianne McIntyre
Music Director: Jaret Landon
Original Compositions: Jaret Landon, Diedre Murray, and Chesney Snow
Arrangements: Diedre Murray
Drumfolk Riddim Specialist: David Pleasant
Set and Projection Design: Caite Hevner
Costume Design: Emilio Sosa
Lighting Design: Bradley King
Sound Design: Robert Kaplowitz
Wig, Hair, and Makeup Design: J. Jared Janas and Dave Bova
Projection Design: Rasean Davonte Johnson
Casting: Telsey + Company / Rebecca Scholl, CSA
Production Stage Manager: Cheryl Mintz
Stage Manager: Alison Cote
Director of Production: David York
Resident Producer: Debbie Bisno

The Cast
Mother Shaw: Shari Addison
Yolanda: Gabrielle Beckford
Man: Lawrence Clayton
Jeanette: Rebecca E. Covington
Velma: Latice Crawford
Wanda: Stephanie Pope
Mabel: Danielle K. Thomas

Musicians
Piano, keyboards, and trumpet: Jaret Landon
Drumfolk Riddim Specialist: David Pleasant

Performances for Crowns run March 13 - April 1 in the Matthews Theatre. Single tickets range from $25 - $97.50 and are on sale now online at mccarter.org, by phone at (609) 258-2787, or in person at the McCarter Theatre Center Ticket Office, located at 91 University Place in Princeton.


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