Photo Flash: Andre De Shields Celebrates Closing Night Of SOPHISTICATED LADIES
On his day off from appearing as Hermes in the Broadway production of Anais Mitchell's Hadestown at the Walter Kerr Theatre, two-time Tony nominee and Emmy winner André De Shields headed to the Victoria Theater at NJPAC in Newark to celebrate his company of fabulous singers and dancers under his direction in the Crossroads Theatre Company and NJPAC's co-production of Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies. Scroll down for photos from the party.
The high-style music of "The Duke" is the heart and soul of this 1981 Tony-winning Broadway hit, featuring choreography by Kimberly Schafer and musical direction by Nat Adderley, Jr.
Presented in the year marking the 120th anniversary of Ellington's birth, Sophisticated Ladies is a first-class excursion back to the heyday of Harlem's swanky Cotton Club. According to legend, the great bandleader and composer Duke Ellington once told his musicians that they had to play their best because they were about to open in Newark. All those glorious numbers - "Satin Doll," "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)," "Cotton Tail," "Take the A Train" and "Mood Indigo" - returned to the city in full swing with the arrival of Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies.
A glamorous cast of Broadway veterans and bright young stars performed with an onstage band versed in the tradition of the orchestras of Duke Ellington and his son, Mercer. The cast features Johmaalya Adelekan (Diva), Ken Ard (Distingué), Jacqueline B. Arnold (Diva), Wesley J. Barnes (Duke), Lamont Brown (Duke), Kaleigh Cronin (Sophistication), Lianne Marie Dobbs (Sophisication), C.K. Edwards (Duke), Danielle Kelsey (Sophistication), Jenny Laroche (Sophistication), N'Kenge (Diva) and Tommy Scrivens (Duke).
Mr. De Shields' creative team also includes Burke J. Wilmore (Set and Lighting Design), Gail Brassard (Costume Design), Production Stage Manager Rick Steiger and Assistant Stage Manager Chelsea Olivia Friday.
The band featured Conductor Nat Adderley, Jr. (Piano), Irwin Hall (Alto Saxophone), Patience Higgins (Tenor Saxophone), Jason Marshall (Baritone Saxophone), James Cage (Trumpet), Donald Malloy (Trumpet), James Gibbs (Trumpet), Robert Stringer (Trombone), Ken Crutchfield (Drums) and Belden Bullock (Bass).
About Crossroads Theatre Company
Crossroads Theatre Company continues to lead the nation with its commitment to literary works that examine the African American experience so that it may be understood and appreciated by all people. When co-founders Ricardo Khan and L. Kenneth Richardson envisioned a space where, as actors, the two young men could work on substantive, non-stereotypical roles, little did they realize that their vision would grow into the major institution that it is today. Crossroads has filled an otherwise empty space on the cultural canvas of the country and the world, with a collective body of work that remains unparalleled by any other of culturally-specific theater in the nation by presenting over 50 world premieres. Crossroads forged its vision into reality through the development, production and touring of new works from throughout the African Diaspora where positive images of African American life, history and culture is celebrated. These honest theatrical portrayals helped move the consciousness of the nation forward. Crossroads continues to lead twenty-first century story-telling by building bridges of understanding and veracity between people of all backgrounds in this society and the world. Find out more at CrossroadsTheatreCompany.org.
Photo Credit: Lia Chang
Director Andre De Shields and star of HADESTOWN
1st row: Choreographer Kimberly Schafer, Director Andre De Shields, Musical Director Nat Adderley, Jr., Assistant Stage Manager Chelsea Olivia Friday. 2nd row: Assistant Director Jim Mirrione, Lamont Brown, Costume Designer Gail Brassard, LiAnne Marie Dobbs, Wesley J. Barnes, Johmaalya Adelekan, C.K. Edwards, N'Kenge. 3rd row: Ken Ard, Production Stage Manager Rick Steiger, Tommy Scrivens, Kaleigh Cronin, Danielle Kelsey, Jacqueline B. Arnold, Jenny Laroche
Director Andre De Shields and Assistant Director Jim Mirrione
Musical Director Nat Adderley, Jr. and Family