TheaterWorksUSA & The Apollo to Present Staged Reading of New Musical LONG WAY DOWN

Mixing classic and contemporary hip-hop with R&B, the musical explores the cycle of violence, the nature of grieving, and the power of decision-making.

By: Nov. 15, 2022
TheaterWorksUSA & The Apollo to Present Staged Reading of New Musical LONG WAY DOWN
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TheaterWorksUSA in association with The Apollo, will present an invite only staged reading of Jason Reynolds' New York Times best-selling young adult novel Long Way Down in a compelling new musical by Dahlak Brathwaite and Khiyon Hursey, directed and choreographed by Ken-Matt Martin on November 21 at Pearl Studios.

Long Way Down follows 15-year-old Will who is raised to follow the rules- number one, no crying; number two, no snitching; and number three, always seek revenge. Following the murder of his brother, Will enters an elevator intent on revenge, but on the way down to the ground floor is haunted by ghosts of family and community. Mixing classic and contemporary hip-hop with R&B, the musical explores the cycle of violence, the nature of grieving, and the power of decision-making.

"I am excited to tell this important story right now as our country continues to grapple with issues related to gun violence. Jason Reynolds' book should be read by everyone and I'm thrilled to bring this story to the world in musical form with this amazing team. The opportunity to collaborate with Dahlak and Khiyon has been incredible, and we're delighted to bring this show to life with the Apollo and TheaterWorksUSA." Director and Choreographer, Ken-Matt Martin

"The Apollo is thrilled to be partnering on the development of Long Way Down - A TheaterWorksUSA commission as part of our Apollo New Works initiative. Apollo New Works extendsThe Apollo's commitment to the creation of a diverse, 21st century American performing arts canon. The stage adaptation of Jason Reynolds timely, urgent, and poignant Young Adult novel fits squarely into this mission and we are honored to usher this story to the stage with incredible partners." Executive Producer, The Apollo, Kamilah Forbes

The cast for this staged reading includes Jamaal Fields-Green (Broadway: MJ The Musical), Nygel D. Robinson (NY: Beau: The Musical), Tatiana Wechsler (Broadway: Mr. Saturday Night), L'Oreal Lampley (NY: The Tempest), Hayward Leach (TV: "Tom Swift"), Malcolm Minor (Film: Between the Pages), Colin Carswell (Regional: Once on This Island), and Victor Musoni (Regional: Steppenwolf's Columbinus).

Based on the book Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, 2017 Used with the permission of Pippin Properties, Inc.

For more information about TheaterWorksUSA, please visit

Creative Team


(Book, Lyrics and Music) Dahlak is an award-winning playwright, composer, and performer. His work has been presented at The Smithsonian, Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, REDCAT, MCA Chicago, Ars Nova, The Public Theater, The Apollo, SXSW, by Creative Time, and on HBO's last two seasons of Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry. Dahlak's trilogy of works - Spiritrials (solo play), Try/Step/Trip (musical), Adapting History (documentary film) - take a personal look into the criminal justice system and the relationship between Black American music and Black American subjugation. Development of the work has been supported by CalArts, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Victory Gardens, and Montalvo Arts Center. Dahlak has received awards and support from NEFA, The NEA, the Doris Duke Foundation, The U.S. State Department, NYU Tisch, and MAP Fund. He was a Creative Capital finalist and a United States Artist nominee. He is a graduate of NYU's Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, where he was awarded the Dean's Full-Tuition Fellowship, and served as the Assistant Director for the national tour of the Tony-winning revival of Oklahoma!


(Book, Lyrics and Music) is a writer and composer primarily working to push musical theater into the contemporary world of popular music. He recently finished co-penning songs with Grammy Winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (Lala Land, Dear Evan Hansen) for Spirited, a major motion picture starring Ryan Reynolds, Will Ferrell and Octavia Spencer. He is currently co-writing Love In America, a movie musical to be produced by Issa Rae at Universal. After Khiyon got his start as the music assistant on the off-Broadway and Broadway productions and the Grammy Award Winning Cast Album of HAMILTON, he's since worked for/with Universal Studios, HBOmax, Netflix, Apple, Nickelodeon, Andre 3000, Issa Rae, and Kevin Hart on various music and tv projects. He is based in Los Angeles and New York.

Ken-Matt Martin

(Director and Choreographer) is a director and producer. His work as a director has been seen in theatres across the country including Rites and Reason Theatre, Pyramid Theatre Company, Brown/Trinity Rep, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Goodman Theatre and others. Selected directing credits include new plays, musicals, and classics such as Civil Sex, Mississippi Goddamn, Tripping Over Roots, Love's Labour's Lost, Prowess, Shakuntala, tick..tick..Boom, Fences, Queen of the Night and The Amen Corner. Ken-Matt, co-founded Pyramid Theatre Company in Des Moines, IA where he served as Executive Director until 2018. Martin's producing and directing credits in Des Moines have received thirty-four Cloris Leachman Excellence in Theatre Award nominations, including two awards for Best Play and a Special Honor for Martin in 2016. In 2018, Martin was named Producing Director of Williamstown Theatre Festival (WTF). Martin was previously the Bill Foeller Directing Fellow at WTF where he directed A Son, Come Homeby Ed Bullins and Brotherhood by Louis Reyes McWilliams. Martin has also served as Associate Producer at The Goodman Theatre and is the former Artistic Director of Victory Gardens Theatre. He received two degrees from Drake University and his MFA in Directing from Brown/Trinity Rep.


The legendary Apollo-the soul of American culture-plays a vital role in cultivating emerging artists and launching legends. Since its founding, the Apollo has served as a center of innovation and a creative catalyst for Harlem, the city of New York, and the world.

With music at its core, the Apollo's programming extends to dance, theater, spoken word, and more. This includes the world premiere of the theatrical adaptation of Ta-Nehisi Coates's Between the World and Me and the New York premiere of the opera We Shall Not Be Moved; special programs such as the blockbuster concert Bruno Mars Live at the Apollo; 100: The Apollo Celebrates Ella; and the annual Africa Now! Festival. The non-profit Apollo is a performing arts presenter, commissioner, and collaborator that also produces festivals and large-scale dance and musical works organized around a set of core initiatives that celebrate and extend the Apollo's legacy through a contemporary lens, including the Women of the World (WOW) Festival as well as other multidisciplinary collaborations with partner organizations.

Since introducing the first Amateur Night contests in 1934, the Apollo has served as a testing ground for new artists working across a variety of art forms and has ushered in the emergence of many new musical genres-including jazz, swing, bebop, R&B, gospel, blues, soul, and hip-hop.


(Barbara Pasternack, Artistic Director; Michael Harrington, Executive Director) has led the Theater for Young and Family Audiences movement in New York City and across North America for over half a century. At TWUSA, we believe that access to art-and theater, in particular-is vital for our youth. Since 1961, the 501(c)3 not-for-profit has captured the imaginations of 100 million new and veteran theatergoers with an award-winning repertoire of over 140 original plays and musicals. Acclaimed alumni include Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (Disney's Frozen), Daphne Rubin-Vega (Rent), Jerry Zaks (The Music Man), Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (Dear Evan Hansen), Miguel Cervantes (Hamilton), Kathleen Chalfant (Angels in America), and Chuck Cooper (Tony award-winning actor, The Life). Visit WWW.TWUSA.ORG for more information.


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