Northern Stage Premiers Choreopoem CITRUS With First All Black Female Cast And Creative Team

By: Mar. 01, 2020
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The world premiere of Citrus will grace the main stage of the Barrette Center for the Arts in White River Junction February 26 - March 15. For tickets and information, call (802) 296-7000 or visit Tickets start at $34 for adults and $19 for students.

With music, dance, and spoken-word poetry, Celeste Jennings' Citrus intricately weaves together stories of Black women throughout American history to create a portrait of resilience and humanity. Inspired by the stories of those close to her and from history, Jennings puts forth a candid look at the daily struggles and triumphs of Black women from the 1840s to modern day. Citrus captures the tragedy of common experiences and exalts the magnificent beauty of the mundane.

Jennings wrote the choreopoem as an undergraduate at Dartmouth, where she developed it as her senior fellowship project. In 2019, Citrus was a crowd-favorite at Northern Stage's New Works Now new play festival, so much so that Producing Artistic Director Carol Dunne felt it had to be on the main stage. After the 2019-20 plays had been selected, the company reworked the season to include Citrus with enthusiastic support from the Northern Stage Board of Directors.

"Citrus is so heartbreakingly beautiful and poetic that I felt it had to be a part of this season, in the spring, when we need hope and beauty the most," Dunne says.

Citrus will be directed by JaMeeka Holloway-Burrell, who also directed it during New Works Now and its initial reading at Dartmouth. Of Citrus, Holloway-Burrell says, "I'll never forget the first time I read this play. The experience was cathartic, and I was more excited about a piece of theater than I had been in a very long time. Citrus is truly a script in a league of its own. It has been my pleasure to witness the transformative power of this choreopoem. Celeste is such a passionate and earnest storyteller who cares so deeply about every story she's telling, and that comes through so finely in her work. Whether you're experiencing this play on the page or in performance, you can feel that the stories of the women in Citrus have been handled thoughtfully and with care. I'm so honored to be directing this piece that centers complicated and intricate lives of Black women throughout history. This play explores the many stories we think we already know and reminds us that there is always more. And most importantly, this play reminds us of the humanity of Black women."

Along with penning the play, Jennings will also be designing the costumes. Costume design will be an integral part of telling the stories, as Jennings wrote the show from the perspective of a costume designer. Citrus will show how clothing represents a shared history - a common thread - while also representing the unique individuality of the person wearing the clothes. Of costume design, Jennings said, "I love costume design because I get to analyze and research history, art, fashion, color-theory, social constructs, science, mythology, etc. to create a costume that best fits the economic, social, and political backgrounds of characters in plays."

Northern Stage welcomes back to the main stage Monique St. Cyr (Northern Stage: A Doll's House, Part 2; Off-Broadway: Thunderbodies, Julius Caesar), and former and current Dartmouth Experiential Term students Stephanie Everett (Northern Stage: Disney's The Little Mermaid; It's Fine, I'm Fine in New Works Now 2018), Samantha West (Northern Stage: Oslo, Dear Elizabeth), and Stella Asa (Northern Stage: King Lear). Northern Stage welcomes Olivia Williams (National Tour: The River Niger), Aurelia Williams (Broadway: Once on this Island and In Transit), Nemuna Ceesay (Regional: What to Send up When it Goes Down), Lakeisha Coffey (Regional: Wakey, Wakey), and Jazmine Stewart (Off-Broadway: Much Ado About Nothing).

The creative team is completed by Beatrice Capote (Choreographer), MeJah Balams (Scenic Designer), Kathy A. Perkins (Lighting Designer), Sadah Espii Proctor (Sound & Projection Designer), Cherelle Guyton (Hair Designer), Nicole Alvarez (Associate Hair Designer), Hannah Haile (Assistant Costume Designer), and Lexi Warden (Assistant Director/Choreographer). The stage management team includes Brian R. Sekinger (Production Stage Manager), Kyla S. Mermejo-Varga (1st Assistant Stage Manager), and Jess Johnston (AEA Assistant Stage Manager).

The 2019-20 Season is underwritten by Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital. Citrus is sponsored by The Norwich Inn and Stave Puzzles. A post-show reception with the company at Trail Break Taps + Tacos follows the opening night performance on Saturday, February 29. A free Spot On conversation with Celeste Jennings will contextualize the production on Sunday, March 1 at 3:00 PM. Optional post-show conversations will follow evening performances on Saturday, March 7 and Sunday, March 8. $19 Student Tickets and $5 Access for All tickets (for EBT cardholders) are available for any performance, $20 tickets are available on Tuesday, March 3 for $20 Tuesday - the first Tuesday after opening night, and $34 tickets are available for preview performances, February 26 - 28. Adult ticket prices range from $34 - $59.

Northern Stage ( is a regional non-profit LORT-D professional theater company located in White River Junction, VT. Northern Stage actively engages its audiences with world-class productions and extensive educational programs in its new home, the Barrette Center for the Arts. Founded in 1997, the company has offered more than 150 professional productions of new works, classics, and musicals. Now in its 23rd season, Northern Stage serves over 50,000 people. In 2014, the company launched a new play festival that has cultivated seven world premiere productions and three Off-Broadway transfers. A robust educational program focuses on professional training in a nurturing and supportive environment for students of all ages. Offerings include student acting ensembles, a summer musical theater intensive, and an expansive theater-in-the-schools residency program. Northern Stage's breadth of programming supports the company's mission to "change lives, one story at a time..."