Kirsten Childs' BELLA: AN AMERICAN TALL TALE Gets Cast Recording
Playwrights Horizons (Artistic Director Tim Sanford, Managing Director Leslie Marcus) and Yellow Sound Label announce the release of the original cast recording of Kristen Childs' rowdy, wild, and hilarious Bella: An American Tall Tale. Hard copies of the album, produced by Michael Croiter, can be purchased at yellowsoundlabel.com and phnyc.org beginning February 22, when it will also become available digitally on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and Apple Music. Pre-orders are available now via iTunes.
The musical, a Western adventure about a wanted woman of mythic proportions looking to begin life anew, marked Kirsten Childs' (book, music, and lyrics) momentous return to Playwrights following her Obie-winning The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin. Two-time Obie-winning director Robert O'Hara (Playwrights: Mankind, Bootycandy; Other Off-Broadway: Slave Play) and acclaimed choreographer Camille A. Brown (Broadway: Choir Boy, Once on This Island, A Streetcar Named Desire) brought Bella to life with a stellar cast, and this vital recording eternalizes their work.
In Bella-whose New York Premiere production opened in Playwrights Horizons' Mainstage Theatre May 19, 2017-the title character (Ashley D. Kelley) takes us on the trip of a lifetime out West to escape her scandalous past and bounce into the arms of her awaiting Buffalo Soldier (Clifton Oliver). Childs infuses this Western tall tale with soulful tunes and madcap antics, all the while centering the story of a black woman within a genre (and mythologized time/place in American historical memory) from which they have often been erased. Childs told Tim Sanford that she wanted to "flip the script, to create a new myth celebrating the power and beauty of the black female body, with all the joy, fun, silliness and sorrow, heartbreak and triumph of the black woman's experience of America."
Featured on the recording are cast members Marinda Anderson (Playwrights: A Life, Far From Heaven;Off-Broadway: Every Good Girl, Sex of the Baby) as Ida Lou/Aunt Dinah; Yurel Echezarreta (Bella... at Dallas Theatre Center; Broadway: Head Over Heels, Aladdin, Matilda, La Cage aux Folles, West Side Story) as Diego Moreno/CP Conyers; Brandon Gill (Broadway: Holler If Ya Hear Me; Off-Broadway: Neighbors; TV: "Golden Boy") as Nathaniel Beckworth; Olli Haaskivi (Off Broadway: Baghdaddy, I Battled Lenny Ross, Saturday Night; TV: "Mr. Robot") as Gabriel Conyers/Scooter; Ashley D. Kelley (title role in Bella... at Dallas Theatre Center; Other Regional: The Wiz, Chicago; Film & TV: "Marvel's Luke Cage," American Hustle) as Bella; Kevin Massey (Broadway: A Gentleman's Guide..., Memphis, Tarzan, Deaf West's Big River) as Snaggletooth Hoskins/Bonny Jonny; Jo'Nathan Michael (Off-Broadway: The Bubbly Black Girl...; Regional: Dreamgirls, West Side Story) as Mr. Dinwiddie/Scumbucket; Kenita R. Miller (Bella... at Dallas Theatre Center; Broadway: Once on This Island, The Color Purple, Xanadu; Off-Broadway: The Bubbly Black Girl...) as Miss Cabbagestalk/Mama; Paolo Montalban (Bella... at Dallas Theatre Center; Broadway: Breakfast at Tiffany's, Pacific Overtures, The King & I; Film & TV: "Nurse Jackie," "Madam Secretary," Cinderella) as Tommie Haw/Skeeter; Clifton Oliver (Broadway: The Lion King, In the Heights, Wicked; National Tours: Motown, The Lion King, Rent) as Aloysius T. Hunnicut;Gabrielle Reyes (Bella... at Dallas Theatre Center; Regional: Dreamgirls, A Christmas Carol; TV: "Mad Men," "Scandal") as Mrs. Dinwiddie/Nurse; and NaTasha Yvette Williams (Broadway: Chicago, Porgy and Bess, The Color Purple; Lincoln Center: Show Boat) as Grandma/Spirit of the Booty.
About Kirsten Childs
Kirsten Childs (Playwright). Playwrights: Bella: An American Tall Tale (Frederick Loewe Award, Edward M. Kennedy Prize finalist, four Audelco Awards), The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin (Obie, Kleban, Audelco, Richard Rodgers, Gilman Gonzalez-Falla awards; Rockefeller and Jonathan Larson Grants; Lortel, NAACP, Drama Desk nominations). Other works: Fly with Rajiv Joseph, Bill Sherman, and director Jeffrey Seller; Washington Square with Ben Wexler; New Group commission with Gordon Greenberg; Funked Up Fairy Tales; Miracle Brothers; Lucky Boy (Penn State Commission); Disney's Believe and Disney's Wishes. Grants: NEA, Larson. Other affiliations: American Songbook series, New Electric Company, Guggenheim Museum Works & Process, songwriter for Dianne Reeves (with Billy Childs).
About Playwrights Horizons
Playwrights Horizons is dedicated to cultivating the most important American Playwrights, composers, and lyricists, as well as developing and producing their bold new plays and musicals. Tim Sanford became Artistic Director in 1996 and Leslie Marcus has been Managing Director since 1993. Under their decades of leadership, Playwrights builds upon its diverse and renowned body of work, counting 400 writers among its artistic roster. In addition to its onstage work each season, Playwrights' singular commitment to nurturing American theater artists guides all of the institution's multifaceted initiatives: our acclaimed New Works Lab, a robust commissioning program, an innovative curriculum at its Theater School, and more. Robert Moss founded Playwrights in 1971 and cemented the mission that continues to guide the institution today. André Bishop served as Artistic Director from 1981-1992. Don Scardino succeeded him and served until 1996. Over its 47-year history, Playwrights has been recognized with numerous awards and honors, including six Pulitzer Prizes, 13 Tony Awards, and 39 Obie Awards.