MIGHTY REAL: A FABULOUS SYLVESTER MUSICAL to Return to NYC, Head to San Francisco in 2015
AnthonyKen LLC and Sheryl Lee Ralph/The Diva Foundation are pleased to announce that the critically acclaimed MIGHTY REAL: A FABULOUS SYLVESTER MUSICAL, the musical celebration of the life of the original 1970s "Queen of Disco" Sylvester, will return for a special one-night-only event in New York City at The Gramercy Theater (127 East 23rd Street) on Sunday, January 18th, 2015 at 8 PM. The musical will then take off for a limited engagement in Sylvester's beloved city, San Francisco, where it will play the Brava Theater Center (2781 24th Street) from Wednesday, February 11th - Sunday, March 1at, 2015 (Opening Night: February 14th, 2015). Plans for other engagements in cities across the country - and a return to New York City - will be announced in the New Year.
MIGHTY REAL: A FABULOUS SYLVESTER MUSICAL is written by and stars Anthony Wayne (who has been seen on Broadway in the musicals Pippin, Anything Goes, and Priscilla Queen of the Desert), currently selected as one of OUT magazine's "Out 100" for 2014. The musical is co-directed by Mr. Wayne and Kendrell Bowman, who also serves as the show's costume designer.
Joining Mr. Wayne in the cast of MIGHTY REAL: A FABULOUS SYLVESTER MUSICAL are Anastacia McCleskey (Violet, The Book of Mormon) as Izora Rhodes Armstead and Jacqueline B. Arnold (We Will Rock You, Priscilla Queen of the Desert) as Martha Wash - a.k.a. the Weather Girls (Two Tons of Fun); as well as DeAnne Stewart and Rahmel McDade.
MIGHTY REAL: A FABULOUS SYLVESTER MUSICAL has a set and lighting design by two-time Tony-nominee David Lander (Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, 33 Variations), costume design by Kendrell Bowman, and sound design by Rafe Carlotto / Sound Associates, and choreography by Anastacia McCleskey.
Mr. Wayne and Mr. Bowman, life partners, were inspired to create the musical after seeing the "Unsung" documentary about the artist on TV One in 2010. Moved by his story - by Sylvester's bravery to openly be who he was in an era in which that was not supported or encouraged by society - Mr. Wayne sought out his music. Hooked, he discussed Sylvester's music and influence with Mr. Bowman and they both put their talents together with determination to bring the icon's story to the stage. The first incarnation of the show was a series of concerts at le poisson rouge in New York City in 2012, which were followed by sold-out performances in Washington, D.C. and Miami in 2013.
When the couple decided to present their creation Off-Broadway, they took to Twitter seeking celebrity support. Through these efforts they gained the support of the likes of Whoopi Goldberg, as well as Sheryl Lee Ralph, who came on board with the duo as a co-producer. The team financed the one-month Off-Broadway engagement through funds and investments partially acquired through a Kickstarter campaign, as well as Wayne and Bowman's own personal investment. MIGHTY REAL: A FABULOUS SYLVESTER MUSICAL began performances at Theatre at St. Clement's (423 W. 46th Street) on Friday, September 5th and opened on Sunday, September 14th. The limited engagement ended on Sunday, October 5th a sell-out, and with the producers having recouped their investment. Before that limited run ended, Wayne and Bowman were interviewed for "Unsung," and will become part of a new edit of the documentary that inspired the musical (airing on TV One this upcoming season).
Sylvester James, Jr. (September 6, 1947 - December 16, 1988), better known as Sylvester, was an American disco and soul singer-songwriter. Known for his flamboyant, androgynous appearance, he became known in the United States as the "Queen of Disco." Born in Watts, LA, Sylvester developed a love of singing through the gospel choirs of his Pentecostal church, which he left after being persecuted for his homosexuality. His career started as an early founder of a group of black cross-dressers and trans women known as The Disquotays. After that group disbanded, he moved to San Francisco and embraced the counterculture, joining a drag troupe, The Cockettes, and he eventually produced solo shows heavily influenced by female blues and jazz singers like Billie Holiday and Josephine Baker. Sylvester left the Cockettes to focus on his solo career, and by 1978, his acclaimed album Step II spawned the disco classics "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" and "Dance (Disco Heat)." He released 12 albums in his career, and had several more hits, including "Do Ya Wanna Funk," and "Can't Stop Dancing." An activist who campaigned against the spread of HIV/AIDS, Sylvester died from complications arising from the virus in 1988. In 2004, "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)," was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame, and one year later in 2005, Sylvester himself was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame for his achievement as an artist.
The San Francisco engagement of MIGHTY REAL: A FABULOUS SYLVESTER MUSICAL will be presented at the Brava Theater Center. Brava! For Women in the Arts celebrates its 27th year as a professional arts organization dedicated to cultivating the artistic expression of women, youth, LGBT, people of color and other unheard voices through the ownership and operation of Brava Theater Center. BRAVA producing history includes award-winning premieres by Diana Son, Eve Ensler, Debbie Swisher, Reno, Cherylene Lee, Suzan-Lori Parks, Culture Clash, Joan Holden, Anne Galjour, Elizabeth Summers, Kate Rigg, Dan Guerrero, and Mabou Mines, as well as works by internationally known playwrights like Jesusa Rodriguez and Liliana Felipe of Mexico, Jorge Drexler of Uruguay, and Ojos de Brujo and Ismael Serrano of Spain. BRAVA's current artistic programming includes traditional and contemporary music festivals, a variety of film festivals, contemporary and experimental theatrical productions, international comedy shows, lectures and professional dance productions - making BRAVA one of the most eclectic and multi-faceted arts venues in the Bay Area. BRAVA's resident youth programs include the long standing SF Running crew which pairs youth with professional mentors and hands on opportunities for technical theatre training; Cuicacalli Escuela de Danza, traditional and contemporary dance training for youth, Famooly Productions Salsa Band workshops and Loco Bloco dance and drum ensemble. Brava is committed to providing affordable space for artistic development and presentation and quality professional arts training for underserved youth in the San Francisco community.
MIGHTY REAL: A FABULOUS SYLVESTER MUSICAL will play a special one-night-only performance in New York City at The Gramercy Theatre (127 East 23rd Street) on Sunday, January 18th at 8 PM (doors open at 7PM and show begins at 8PM). Tickets begin at $69.50 and are now on sale via TicketMaster by calling 1.800.745.3000 or online at http://www.ticketmaster.com/event/00004D6EEAA99FC4. Exclusive, limited VIP Reserved Seating is also available (includes a seat in the first 5 rows, a post-show Meet & Greet, and a photo with the cast).
MIGHTY REAL: A FABULOUS SYLVESTER MUSICAL will play a limited engagement in San Francisco at The Brava Theater Center (located at 2781 24th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110) from February 11th - March 1st, 2015 (Opening February 14th, 2015). Tickets range from $30 - $100 and are now available online at http://www.brava.org/current-shows/current-shows/mighty-real-fabulous-sylvester-musical.
MIGHTY REAL: A FABULOUS SYLVESTER MUSICAL Live Original Cast Recording is available online on iTunes and CD Baby.