BWW TV: Yaya DaCosta's 'Summer' on Stage

Yaya DaCosta is a formidable young actress who is making her mark in film with stand out performances in Take the Lead with Antonio Banderas and Honeydripper where she co-starred along with Danny Glover and Charles S. Dutton. On television she was last seen in a breakout performance in the Lifetime Network motion picture Racing for Time, as well as a recent featured role on All My Children. Fans of America's Next Top Model will remember her as a favorite contestant in the popular series third season. And while she has graced the pages of many top fashion magazines, her real passion has always been acting. She knew from the age of 11 that it was her true calling, and was soon doing plays and educational films in her hometown of New York City not long after starting her journey as an actor. Yaya studied dance at The Harlem School of The Arts and The Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, and spent junior high school at the magnet performing arts school Manhattan East Jr. High School. She is graduate of Brown University.

In the Signature Theatre Company's current production of Leslie Lee's acclaimed drama, The First Breeze Of Summer, Miss DaCosta essays the pivotal role of 'Lucretia', a lively and free-willed woman who's latter-day incarnation, played by Leslie Uggams, will reveal the complicated choices her younger self had to ultimately make to keep her family together. spoke with Yaya about winning the emotional role and bringing the powerful drama to life on stage.

The First Breeze Of Summer, the first production of Signature Theatre Company's (James Houghton, Founding Artistic Director; Erika Mallin, Executive Director) 2008-2009 season celebrating the historic Negro Ensemble Company (NEC), began previews August 5th, 2008. The First Breeze Of Summer by Leslie Lee and directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, officially opens on Thursday, August 21st and continues through September 28th at the Peter Norton Space located at 555 West 42nd Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues).

The cast includes Harvy Blanks (Tabletop), Yaya DaCosta (Honeydripper), Sandra Daley (Defying Gravity), Crystal Anne Dickinson (Tyler Perry's "House of Payne"), Brandon Dirden (Prelude to a Kiss), Jason Dirden (Two Trains Running), Quincy Dunn-Baker (Romeo and Juliet), Marva Hicks (Caroline, or Change), John Earl Jelks (Radio Golf), Tuck Milligan (Book of Days), Gilbert Owuor (The Brothers Size), Brenda Pressley (Dreamgirls), and Keith Randolph Smith (Come Back, Little Sheba) and Tony® and Emmy® Award winner Leslie Uggams.

The original production of The First Breeze Of Summer, directed by NEC founder Douglas Turner Ward, received a Tony Award nomination for Best Play during its 1975 run at Broadway's Palace Theatre. The show takes place over the course of one sweltering weekend in June, as the struggles of three generations of the Edwards family collide. Gremmar (Leslie Uggams), the family matriarch, looks back on her past and considers its legacy for her children and grandchildren as they confront the choices that will define their futures. Leslie Lee's Obie Award-winning play is a timeless portrait of family bonds and coming of age.

Through The Signature Ticket Initiative, which seeks to make great theatre accessible to the broadest possible audience, all regularly-priced single tickets ($65) are underwritten and are available for $20 every performance for the entire season, during a show's initial run. The Signature Ticket Initiative continues through Signature's 20th Anniversary Season (2010-2011).

The Signature Ticket Initiative is made possible by the lead sponsorship of Time Warner Inc. Generous support for The Signature Ticket Initiative is provided by Margot Adams, in memory of Mason Adams.

Support for the Negro Ensemble Company Season is provided by American Express.

Tickets are available via signaturetheatre.orgor via phone (212) 244-PLAY (7529) and in person at the Signature Theatre Box Office (555 West 42nd Street (between 10th and 11thAvenues).

Video Shot and Edited by E. Matthew Cady

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From This Author Eddie Varley

Eddie Varley was most recently seen as one of the stars of the Lifetime Television Series, MATCHED IN MANHATTAN. On the New York stage he (read more...)