MARIE AND ROSETTA Extends by Two Weeks Off-Broadway

By: Sep. 15, 2016

Atlantic Theater Company has announced that the world premiere production of George Brant's play with music, Marie and Rosetta, starring Kecia Lewis (Mother Courage, Once on This Island) and Rebecca Naomi Jones (American Idiot, Hedwig and the Angry Inch) and directed by Atlantic Artistic Director Neil Pepe, has been extended an additional two weeks due to popular demand, following opening last night to positive reviews.

Marie and Rosetta began previews Wednesday, August 24, officially opened September 14 and will now play through Sunday, October 16 Off-Broadway at Atlantic Theater Company's Linda Gross Theater (336 West 20 Street).

A huge influence on Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles and Jimi Hendrix, Sister Rosetta Tharpe (Lewis) was a legend in her time, bringing fierce guitar-playing and swing to gospel music. Tharpe was the queen of 'race records' in the 30's and 40's, a woman who played guitar as passionately as Clapton, who performed mornings at churches and evenings at the Cotton Club, who was a big enough star to fill a baseball stadium for her third wedding, but ended up buried in an unmarked grave in Philadelphia. Marie and Rosetta chronicles Sister Rosetta's first rehearsal with a young protégée, Marie Knight (Jones), as they prepare to embark on a tour that would establish them as one of the great duet teams in musical history.

Kecia Lewis recently starred in the title role of Mother Courage Off-Broadway. She made her Broadway debut as "Effie" in the original company of Dreamgirls, originated the role of "Asaka, Mother of The Earth" in Once on This Island and has appeared in the Broadway musicals Big River, Ain't Misbehavin, The Gospel at Colonus, The Drowsy Chaperone, Chicago and earned a Drama Desk Award nomination for her performance in Dessa Rose at Lincoln Center Theatre.

Rebecca Naomi Jones has performed in the Broadway musicals American Idiot, Passing Strange, and most recently as Yitzhak in the hit revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. She has appeared Off-Broadway in Murder Ballad, Big Love and The Fortress of Solitude and recently starred in Martyna Majok's play Cost of Living at Williamstown Theatre Festival.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe was widely acclaimed among the greatest Sanctified gospel singers of her generation; a flamboyant performer whose music often flirted with the blues and swing, she was also one of the most controversial talents of her day, shocking purists with her leap into the secular market - by playing nightclubs and theaters, she not only pushed spiritual music into the mainstream, but in the process also helped pioneer the rise of pop-gospel.

Marie and Rosetta features scenic design by Riccardo Hernández, costume design by Dede Ayite, lighting design by Christopher Akerlind, sound design by Steve Canyon Kennedy, music direction by Jason Michael Webb and casting by Telsey + Company.

Kecia Lewis (Sister Rosetta Tharpe). From originating the role of "Asaka, Mother of The Earth" on Broadway in Once on This Island, to her Classic Stage debut in the title role of Mother Courage, Kecia Lewis's rich career of portraying powerful mothers and formidable women has come full circle. It all began when she was 18 years old and made her debut as "Effie" in the original Broadway company of Dreamgirls. Kecia went on to be seen on Broadway in Big River, Ain't Misbehavin, The Gospel at Colonus, and earned a Drama Desk Nomination for her work in Dessa Rose at Lincoln Center Theater. Kecia originated the roles of "Trix" and "Ida Mae" in the Broadway productions of The Drowsy Chaperone and Leap of Faith, respectively, and took over the reins of "Mama Morton" in Chicago. She was most recently seen flying through the air, spreading joy and magic as "The Fairy Godmother" on the first national tour of Cinderella. On television, she can be seen guest starring on "Law & Order SVU" (recurring), "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" (Season 2), "Limitless," and "Blue Bloods."

Rebecca Naomi Jones (Marie Knight) has performed on Broadway in American Idiot, Passing Strange, and most recently as Yitzhak in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Other New York work includes Murder Ballad at MTC (Lilly Award and Lortel nomination), Signature Theater's production of Big Love (Drama League nomination), The Fortress of Solitude (Public Theater), and Love's Labour's Lost (Shakespeare in the Park). She recently starred in Martyna Majok's play Cost of Living at Williamstown Theatre Festival. Films: Ratter (2014 Slamdance Film Festival Selection), Geezer (2015 TriBeCa Film Festival Selection), Passing Strange (Spike Lee), Broadway Idiot, and the upcoming The Big Sick (produced by Judd Apatow). Select Television: "High Maintenance," "Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll," "Inside Amy Schumer," "Limitless," "Difficult People," and "Blue Bloods." Solo concerts: Lincoln Center American Songbook, Apollo Cafe. Rebecca is an Associate Artist with The Civilians Theater Company and holds a BFA in Drama from the North Carolina School of the Arts.

George Brant's (Playwright) plays include Grounded, Elephant's Graveyard, The Mourners' Bench, Salvage, Three Voyages of the Lobotomobile, Any Other Name, Good on Paper, Dark Room and Grizzly Mama. A Core Writer at the Playwrights' Center, his work has been produced internationally by such companies as The Public Theater, Page 73, Cleveland Play House, Trinity Repertory Company, Alley Theatre, City Theatre, London's Gate Theatre, Studio Theatre, and Australia's Red Stitch, among others. His plays have been generously developed by The Kennedy Center, Asolo Rep, The McCarter Theatre Center, New Harmony Project, Theatre @ Boston Court, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, WordBRIDGE Playwright's Lab, Playwright and Director Center of Moscow, and the Hangar Theatre. Brant's scripts have been awarded the David Mark Cohen National Playwriting Award from the Kennedy Center, the Smith Prize, the Keene Prize for Literature, an NNPN Rolling World Premiere, A Scotsman Fringe First Award, an Off-West End Theatre Award, three Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Awards, a Creative Workforce Fellowship and the Theatre Netto Festival Grand Prize. He has received writing fellowships from the James A. Michener Center for Writers, the McCarter Theatre Center, the MacDowell Colony, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program and the Blue Mountain Center as well as commissions from Trinity Repertory, Dobama Theatre and Theatre 4. George received his MFA in Writing from the University of Texas at Austin and is a member of the Dramatists Guild. He is published by Samuel French, Oberon Books and Smith & Kraus.

Neil Pepe's (Director) Broadway directing credits include the musical Hands on a Hardbody, the acclaimed revival of David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow and A Life in the Theatre. Off-Broadway: Kenneth Lonergan's Hold On To Me Darling; Moira Buffini's Dying For It; John Guare's 3 Kinds of Exile; Jez Butterworth's Parlour Song, Mojo and The Night Heron; Ethan Coen's Happy Hour, Offices and Almost an Evening; Harold Pinter's Celebration and The Room; Adam Rapp's Dreams of Flying Dreams of Falling; Joe Penhall's Blue/Orange; Hilary Bell's Wolf Lullaby; David Pittu's What's That Smell?; Howard Korder's Sea of Tranquility (all at Atlantic); David Mamet's American Buffalo (Donmar Warehouse, Atlantic); Romance, Keep Your Pantheon and School (Center Theatre Group, Atlantic); Zinnie Harris' Further than the Furthest Thing (Manhattan Theatre Club); Jessica Goldberg's Refuge (Playwrights Horizons); Tom Donaghy's The Beginning of August (South Coast Repertory, Atlantic). Frank Gilroy's The Subject Was Roses with Martin Sheen (CTG). Also, Eric Bogosian's Red Angel (Williamstown Theatre Festival). Since 1992, Neil has been the Artistic Director of the award-winning Off-Broadway company, Atlantic Theater Company.

Atlantic Theater Company (Neil Pepe, Artistic Director; Jeffory Lawson, Managing Director) is the award-winning Off-Broadway theater that produces great plays simply and truthfully utilizing an artistic ensemble. Atlantic believes that the story of a play and the intent of its playwright are at the core of the creative process. The plays in the Atlantic repertory, from both new and established playwrights, are boldly interpreted by today's finest theater artists and resonate with contemporary audiences. Celebrating over 30 years of theater, Atlantic has produced more than 150 plays including Tony Award-winning productions of Spring Awakening (Steven Sater, Duncan Sheik) and The Beauty Queen of Leenane (Martin McDonagh); Pulitzer Prize recipient Between Riverside and Crazy (Stephen Adly Guirgis); New York Drama Critics' Circle winner for Best New Play The Night Alive (Conor McPherson); world premieres of Hold On To Me Darling (Kenneth Lonergan); Guards at the Taj (Rajiv Joseph); Skeleton Crew (Dominique Morisseau); I'm Gonna Pray for You So Hard (Halley Feiffer); Posterity (Doug Wright); Found (Hunter Bell, Eli Bolin, Lee Overtree); Almost an Evening, Offices, Happy Hour and Women or Nothing (Ethan Coen); What Rhymes With America (Melissa James Gibson); 3 Kinds of Exile (John Guare); Storefront Church (John Patrick Shanley); Body Awareness (Annie Baker); revivals of Cloud Nine (Caryl Churchill) and Brecht and Weill's musical The Threepenny Opera directed by Martha Clarke; acclaimed productions of Bluebird and Harper Regan (Simon Stephens); Our New Girl (Nancy Harris); The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (Alan Sillitoe, adapted by Roy Williams); The Lieutenant of Inishmore and The Cripple of Inishmaan (Martin McDonagh); Pulitzer Prize finalist The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow, The Jammer, and These Paper Bullets! (Rolin Jones); The Purple Lights of Joppa Illinois and Dreams of Flying Dreams of Falling (Adam Rapp); Through a Glass Darkly (Ingmar Bergman, adapted by Jenny Worton); Farragut North (Beau Willimon); Chimichangas and Zoloft (Fernanda Coppel); Blue/Orange (Joe Penhall); Port Authority and Dublin Carol (Conor McPherson); Writer's Block (Woody Allen); American Buffalo, Romance, and Edmond (David Mamet); The Cider House Rules, Part I (adapted by Peter Parnell); Good Television (Rod McLachlan); Celebration & The Room, The Collection & A Kind of Alaska and The Hothouse (Harold Pinter); Dying for It and Gabriel (Moira Buffini); Oohrah! (Bekah Brunstetter); Mojo, Parlour Song, and The Night Heron (Jez Butterworth); Boys' Life and The Lights (Howard Korder); Distant Fires (Kevin Heelan); The Lying Lesson and Missing Persons (Craig Lucas). Atlantic has garnered 12 Tony Awards, 19 Lucille Lortel Awards, 21 Obie Awards, 7 Drama Desk Awards, 6 Outer Critics Circle Awards, 3 Drama League Awards, 3 New York Drama Critics' Circle Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Photo Credit: Ahron R. Foster


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