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Virginia Stage Company and Norfolk State University Theatre Company Present Toni Morrison's THE BLUEST EYE

Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison's first novel comes to life at the Wells Theatre. The Bluest Eye, directed by Khanisha Foster, follows the story of young Pecola in 1940's Ohio who is pregnant at her father's hands. She is taken in by a loving family and cared for by brilliant and kind sisters, Frieda and Claudia. The character-driven play, both poetic and daringly funny, illuminates the destructive powers of racism and class dynamics while exploring the power of community through exquisite storytelling. The Bluest Eye is produced in collaboration with Norfolk State University Theatre Company.

Director Khanisha Foster returns to Virginia Stage after previously directing Season 39's Disgraced.

Virginia Stage Company is the recipient of a grant award from the National Endowment for the Arts in support of the production of The Bluest Eye, as well as community dialogue both at the Wells Theatre and in the greater Hampton Roads community. Panel discussions surrounding the topics of colorism and Toni Morrison's impact on African American literature will feature artists and scholars in the community, including director Khanisha Foster. The award also supports in-school conversations at Granby High School, Booker T. Washington High School, and Maury High School. Keep up with happenings at vastage.org.

The Bluest Eye begins on March 6 with an official opening night on March 9, and continues with performances through March 24. Tickets range $20 - $55 with discounts for groups, students, and the military. For more information about group tickets and events, contact Tiara Dimond at groups@vastage.org.

Interviews can be arranged with members of the cast, crew, creative team, or staff of Virginia Stage Company or NSU Theatre Company. All reviews are welcome, and tickets can be provided to anyone who wishes to see the production for these purposes.

Virginia Stage Company is southeastern Virginia's leading theatre destination, serving an audience of over 70,000 annually both at the Wells Theatre and throughout the community. Virginia Stage Company's mission is to "enrich, educate, and entertain the region by creating and producing theatrical art of the highest quality."

NSU Theatre Company is the critically-acclaimed, nationally recognized, multiple award-winning theatre company of Norfolk State University in Norfolk, VA. The company's mission is to serve as cultural ambassadors for Norfolk State University and diversify theatrical offerings within our region.

See below for information on the cast and creative team:

Yvette Ganier (Mama) is an Obie award-winning actor based in New York City. Some of Yvette's credits include: Broadway - The Miracle Worker, King Hedley II; London - Jitney: Off-Broadway/NY - The Slow Room, The Block, Pitbulls, Breath Boom, Jitney, For Colored Girls; Regional: Park Square Theatre, Cleveland Playhouse, The Wilma, The Goodman, Steppenwolf, Mark Taper Forum, Baltimore CenterStage, Philadelphia Theatre Company, New Freedom Theatre, Crossroads Theatre Company, The Curran, Seattle Rep, The Intiman, Geva. Yvette is currently re-curring in New Amsterdam on NBC as Nurse Linda Weber.

Tabatha Gayle (Pecola) is honored to be making her Virginia Stage Company debut! Originally from Connecticut, she found her calling as a multidisciplinary performer, creative, and activist in Harlem, NY. Off-Broadway credits: Misogynoir (Ars Nova and Prelude 2018), If Sand Were Stone (NYMF). Select Regional Credits: Our Country's Good (Mary Brenham, CRT), The Importance of Being Earnest (Gwendolen, CRT), A Civil War Christmas (Rose, CRT). BFA Acting, University of Connecticut. Gratitude to God for His Love, inspiration, and timing. Thanks to Lydia R. Diamond for these words, love to the family, Sabrina, Tai, Crystal, and Lauren. tabathagayle.com

Levonte Herbert (Soaphead Church) Levonte is honored to be a part of Norfolk State University's Inaugural Bachelor of Arts in Drama and Theatre class of 2019. He was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. He has appeared in the Virginia Stage Company production of A Christmas Carol and the NSU Theatre Company productions of Fences, The Wiz, The Color Purple, Black Nativity, Once on this Island and Ruined.

Donna Simone Johnson (Mrs. Breedlove) National Tours: PANG!, High School Musical, Moving Arts' Cloud 9. Off-Broadway: MacBeth (The Gym at Judson). Selected Regional: The Lion King (Pantages), We Are Proud To Present... (Center for New Performance), P'orknockers (Portland Center Stage), Depth (American Conservatory Theater), Little Scratch (Royal George) and work at Rubicon Theater Company, Center Theater Group, The Lyceum, and African American Shakespeare Company. Los Angeles credits include: Broken Fences (2018 NAACP Award, Best Lead Actress, Road Theatre Company), I Go Somewhere Else (Playwrights Arena), Hamlet (Shakespeare Center), and Cherry Orchard (Theatricum Botanicum). In addition to voicing and appearing in a host of national commercials, TV credits include NETFLIX's Super Drags (recurring), I Am The Night (TNT), The Inspectors (CBS), 9-1-1 (FOX), Teachers (NBC), Agent X (TNT), The BRKDWN (TVOne) and the upcoming Dreamland (Amazon). MFA: California Institute of the Arts. BIG LOVE to Chad and Coltrane. @dsimonejo across all platforms.

Nicole King (Maureen Pearl/White Girl) REGIONAL: Syracuse Stage: Possessing Harriet (Harriet Powell); Folger Theatre Company: Antony and Cleopatra; Shakespeare Theatre Company: Macbeth; Hanger Theatre Company: Shakespeare's R and J; The Children's Theatre Company: Buccaneers! Much Ado About Nothing, Bert and Ernie, Goodnight; Rutgers Theatre Company (Rutgers University): A Midsummer Night's Dream (Titania), Gabrielle, Balm in Gilead INTERNATIONAL: Shakespeare's Globe (London); A Midsummer Night's Dream (Helena). TRAINING: Rutger's University and Shakespeare's Globe Conservatory. Many thanks to my friends, family, WTG and the Bluest Eye team! www.nicole-king.com

Beethovan Oden (Cholly) is a native of Oakland, California who now resides in New York City. Recently, he was cast as Hambone in August Wilson's Two Trains Running. Off-Broadway credits: Gafney in The Fabulous Miss Marie and Willie in Master Harold and the Boys. Regional Theatre credits: George Armstrong in Intimate Apparel, Bill Riddick in The Best of Enemies, Cholly in The Bluest Eye, The Stage Manager in Our Town, Solinus in The Comedy of Errors, Aaron in Titus Andronicus and Tranio in The Taming of the Shrew. He is a graduate of both Cornish College of the Arts and Southern Methodist University. A winner of the Black Theatre Alliance-Ossie Davis award-Best Featured Actor.

Ja'Keetrius Woods is a Junior drama & theatre major at Norfolk State University. She is originally from Mobile, Alabama but she currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. This is her sixth production with the Virginia Stage Company. She was previously a part of Virginia Stage's A Christmas Carol as a townsperson, The Wiz as Yellow Brick Road and Dorothy's understudy, The Parchman Hour as Pauline Knight, Pride and Prejudice as Mary King/ Georgiana Darcy, and Crowns as Yolanda. Ja'Keetrius is very excited to be working with the Virginia Stage Company again. She has also appeared in the NSU Theatre Company productions of Ruined as Sophie, Black Nativity as Mary and as a featured soloist in A Musical Tribute to Whitney & Aretha.

DJIMON ARMANI is a junior Drama & Theatre major at Norfolk State University. She has previously appeared in the Virginia Stage Company productions of The Wiz, and A Christmas Carol. She has also appeared in the NSU Theatre Company productions of Black Nativity, A Musical Tribute to Luther Vandross, The Color Purple, and The Whitney and Aretha Tribute. On campus at NSU she actively participates in Carolina Connections, Housing and Residence Life as a Resident Assistant, and holds the title of Miss Epsilon Pi representing the Epsilon Pi chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated. Djimon is also involved in weekly community service projects as well as uplifting and encouraging the student body with her beloved Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, Delta Epsilon chapter. She is excited to be a part of this beautifully talented cast!

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