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Photos: First Look At BETHUNE: OUR BLACK VELVET ROSE At Theaterlab

The World Premiere runs through October 23 at Theaterlab.

Richarda Abrams new play BETHUNE: Our Black Velvet Rose opened on October 9 at Theaterlab in New York City. The World Premiere is hosted by TLab Shares, produced by RPR Production and runs until October 23. The limited run is directed by Kathleen Brant, music direction by Amina Claudine Myers, co-produced by Peggy Abrams.

Born in 1875 to former slaves, Bethune was denied the right to read as a young girl in the segregated Jim Crow South but she persevered and became a world-renowned educator, and a champion of civil rights and racial and gender equality. During her life she was an advisor to several American Presidents including Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), and Harry S. Truman, a successful businesswoman, and founded one of the first Historically Black Universities, Bethune-Cookman College in Florida. Recently, Bethune's statue was unveiled in the U.S. Capitol's Statuary Hall, replacing a Confederate statue.

What begins as a class visit to Washington D.C. to the U.S. Capitol's Statuary Hall to see the famous statue of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune turns into a college student getting more than she bargained for as Bethune's statue comes to life and transports them both back through time to 1884 and beyond.

The cast includes Richarda Abrams (4-time AUDELCO award-winner), Stephanie Anuwe (Between the Pages/Amazon), Charles Black (Vieux Carré directed by Austin Pendleton), Bryan Hickey (Joseph Jefferson Award Nominee), Judy Jerome (27 Wagons Full of Cotton/St. Luke's Theatre), and Samuel James Pygatt (Graduate Actors Studio/Pace University).

The creative team includes lighting design by Duncan Davies, projection design by Anna Kiraly, costume design by Sally Lesser (3 Emmy Awards/One Life to Live), scenic/properties design by Harlan Penn (Netflix, Disney, Warner Bros), sound design by Jeanne Travis (New York Innovative Theatre Award Winner), fight director Dan Renkin (Metropolitan Opera), and graphic design by M. Drue Williams. Stage Manager Lawrence Floyd. Production assistant Chamallie Singh.

Performances are Tuesday - Saturday at 7pm, Sunday October and 16 at 2pm (followed by talkback), and Sunday, October 23 at 7pm. Performances take place at Theaterlab, 357 West 36th Street (between 8th and 9th avenues), 3rd Floor (elevator accessible), New York, NY 10018. Subways: 1, 2, 3, A, C, E to 34th Street.

Tickets are $20 students/seniors, $30 general admission and are available at Running time 105 minutes with intermission. COVID 19: Boosters and KN95 masks are required to enter the venue. Masks will be available at the door. More info available at

Photos by Lia Chang.


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