Duke Ellington Center For The Arts Presents YES! THE MUSICAL, 3/5

By: Feb. 24, 2012
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Can you imagine the conversation that might have taken place if Barack Obama could have spoken with the late DR. Martin Luther King, Jr. before he delivered his historic keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention that propelled him onto the world stage? And how such a conversation might have influenced Obama's future Senatorial and Presidential election campaigns as well as his Presidency during his first three years in office? Well composer Earl Wilson, Jr. (Let My People Come) had just such an idea one year ago on March 4, 2011, having had a sudden vision of the idea and feeling compelled to work on it immediately. 

"The impulse was so strong that I started that day and worked on it continuously until April 5th, one month and one day later, at which time I had completed a first draft of the book, music and lyrics," says Wilson. "I then sat down and began creating a Broadway musical around an imaginary meeting between the future President and the assassinated civil rights leader in a millisecond of space time prior to his keynote address.  In this moment, I envisioned how Dr. King helps soon-to-become Senator Obama embrace the journey to the Presidency. The first draft had about 80% of the finished show in it. I feel I was more than inspired. I feel I was channeled. I can find no other explanation." 

The first public presentation of Wilson's new show, called YES! THE MUSICAL, will be given a single showcase salon performance on Monday, March 5, at 8 PM  -- one year and one day later from the day he started it -- at the Rose Nagelberg Theater at the Baruch Performing Arts Center on 25th Street, just east of Lexington Avenue. The production, with book, music and lyrics by Wilson, is being presented by The Theater at the Duke Ellington Center For The Arts, with Mercedes Ellington as director- choreographer.  

YES! not only examines the past that led to this moment, but looks at possible futures – to a world with and without Barack Obama as President. Along with lush orchestrations, the 27-member YES! choir delivers backup as well as providing members with a wide variety of step-out roles to play.   

The cast is headed by Erick Pinnick as Barack Obama and  T. Oliver Reid as Martin Luther King, Jr. Members of The Choir include:  Allyson Tucker, N'Kenge, Adrienne Fishe, Brittany Duck, Brittany Nicholas, Samantha Blain, Jessica Foster, Richie Abanes, Ray Bendana, Joshua Dela Cruz, Alexander Elisa, Javier Gomez, Cameron Bernard Jones, Tyrone Roberson, Kevin Paul Smith, Anthony Wills, Yaniv Zarif, Megan Corcoran, Renée Veronica Freeman, Francheska Gomez, Kimberly Hamby, Brianna Horne, Joanne Javier, Jaygee Macapugay, Francesca McAaron and Cara Scherker.  

The Band is composed of: Piano/Synthesizer: Eugene Gwozdz and Leonard Oxley; Percussionist: Obanilu Allende; Percussionist/Drummer: Benny Koonyevsky; Bassist: Benjamin Brown.

Other Production Credits: Music Supervisor/Arranger/Director: Eugene Gwozdz;  Choral Director: Anthony Evans; Associate Music Director: Leonard Oxley; Music Coordinator: Howard Joines; Stage Manager: 'Femi Heggie; Company Manager/Producer: Marilyn Lester; Development/Consultants: Kent Drake, Dr. Otto Starzmann.


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