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BWW Interview: Leroy Church of DREAMGIRLS on Clubhouse

Black Creatives Creating Their Own Lane

BWW Interview: Leroy Church of DREAMGIRLS on Clubhouse

Last February the world was shocked as the Corona Virus started to sweep through the country. Life has not been the same specifically for those of us who work in professional theatre. Across the globe, theatres are forced to shut down. The livelihood of actors, creatives, ushers, and backstage crews have been affected tremendously. As artists, we have become resilient with the invention of the Zoom Theatre. While this is not the way we want to create and share the art we have decided to make a way out of no way and continue the work. The average cost of a Broadway ticket ranges from $20 to $175. These prices make the Great White Way accessible for those who can afford it. Now we are getting back to the basics. Clubhouse Theatre is right here on our phones for everyone to enjoy. The new Clubhouse App is allowing theatre to go to newer heights and reach millions. I know, you're saying OMG not another social app! But hear me out! Clubhouse is a networking and real-time conversation app that allows you to reach people within your specified industry.

After the success of the Lion King production on Clubhouse producers are bringing more shows to the talk based platform. Creatives Sydney Connors and Brandon Patterson are executive producers for DREAMGIRLS on Clubhouse. They reached out to Broadway performer Leroy Church to aid in the audition process and casting. I had the opportunity to sit in on these auditions. The talent was off the roof. You could feel the warmth and smile from Mr. Church as he said, "thank you and Happy New Year" which has now become a catchphrase amongst some black theatre people on TikTok. I had the opportunity to speak with Leroy Church about this production and I have to say I am all ears.

BWW Interview: Leroy Church of DREAMGIRLS on Clubhouse

BWW: How have you adapted as an artist during the pandemic?

LC: Starting in the Box of Broadway it can be like a golden handcuff. It could be like putting a bird in a low ceiling space; you don't know how high you can fly. I was inspired by artists like Jordan Peele, and the Wayans Brothers. It wasn't until their jobs stopped (MAD TV or IN LIVING COLOR) they were able to birth these other things. That inspired me. The way I adapted, I started creating. I started my own YouTube Channel. I started creating content that was inspirational, news. I did not see my face out there in black news the way I wanted. I wanted to bridge the gap between Urban and Professional newscasting. I talk about things that are hip in pop culture in a way that brings attention and inspiration. I started creating shows and I ended up at Clubhouse and that is where I met Brandon Patterson and Sydney Connors and that's how this Dreamgirls thing started. So all of this is me adapting my artistry.

BWW: We all know many have their opinions about the Club House Production and the politics of the biz. Why this show, this time, and on this app?

LC: I love opinions. I've had some great opinions and a few not so great opinions from the auction process alone. Opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one, and it's all different. You have to know who you are in this business. I welcome the opinions that's why I trended #1 on Twitter. Boom! That's how I feel about that. I was raised by a black woman. She taught me if they are talking about you. You must be doing something right. Black women's voices need to be heard and they need to be seen. And it's Black History Month! What better way to elevate Black History by doing Dreamgirls!

BWW: What happened with the Essence Magazine moment?

LC: I'm just minding my business Twitter and this black woman asked if i would interview with her. I didn't ask what it was for. I was like yeah sure! Why not! People are sharing their gifts with me. I'm going to share mine with them. Come to find out she works for Essence Magazine. To see our names in Essence nest making history on Clubhouse for Black Broadway.

BWW Interview: Leroy Church of DREAMGIRLS on Clubhouse

BKW: I know two of the fabulous Broadway divas in this production Marisha Wallace and Raena White Why should we tune in?

LC: Debora Cox White is going to be sanging down! Ok! Now those two are who you know, but there are things about this show you don't know. We have a surprise celebrity Effie you haven't even heard yet. We have breakout stars from America's Got Talent. I'm talking about Tickwanya, Cristina Rae this cast is full of life and joy! The anointing is in the building. This Black Magic is the reason why we are trending and in magazines. You are going to see Dreamgirls as you have never seen that's 1. See black history made during Black History Month that's #2. And why not that's #3.

BWW Interview: Leroy Church of DREAMGIRLS on Clubhouse

BWW Interview: Leroy Church of DREAMGIRLS on Clubhouse

BWW Interview: Leroy Church of DREAMGIRLS on Clubhouse

I have to say that this is the hottest theatre topic on social media/ ClubHouse. I am so excited to see this come to fruition. Of course within our industry, there are many naysayers and people with golden opinions. But no matter what things will go forth. I have to admit I was confused as to how this could come together but they have a team that is pulling out all the stops to create a top-notch theatrical experience via this audio-only phone app. There are some theatre purists out there that can't wrap their heads around this production. I urge you to give it a chance and check out what these talented black creatives are doing. I am so excited to see black people not asking for permission. These creatives are doing it for themselves and they are entertaining the masses while doing it. No longer are we asking for seats at the table. We are building the table and asking you to have a seat. A new genre and new wave are sweeping through the theatre business. Black theatre-makers aren't seeking permission from white gatekeepers.

As we approach Black History month do not forget the many contributions black people have made to the American Theatre. Let us also give credit to those who are making history as we speak. You can catch this production of Dreamgirls on the Clubhouse App on February 27th & 28th at 1 PM and 7 PM EST. Currently, the Clubhouse is only available for IOS/ iPhone and iPad.

To watch the complete interview click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTrkemQPNRQ


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