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Creative Cauldron to Present CROWNS, a Gospel-Fueled Musical of Family, Joy, and Redemption

Creative Cauldron to Present CROWNS, a Gospel-Fueled Musical of Family, Joy, and Redemption

Creative Cauldron will present its first production of 2020, Crowns, February 13 - March 8, written by Regina Taylor and adapted from the book by Michael Cunningham and Craig Mayberry. When a Brooklyn teen goes to live in South Carolina after the death of her brother she learns the beauty, ceremony and symbolism of hat-wearing from her resilient, southern sisters. This musical draws from the roots of gospel music and traditions of greater African-American Diaspora to weave an inter-generational story of love, joy, and redemption. Crowns has played throughout the country to acclaim, including a sold out run at Arena Stage. Directed by Kara Tameika Watkins and Ian Anthony Coleman, with musical direction by Cedric Lyles. Crowns will be presented at Creative Cauldron, 410 S Maple Ave, Falls Church VA 22046 from February 13 to March 8. Performances are Thursdays at 7:30 PM, Fridays at 7:30 PM, Saturdays at 7:30 PM, and Sundays at 2:00 PM & 7:00 PM. Press night is Saturday, February 15th, 2020 at 7:30 PM. Please RSVP by Wednesday, February 12th.

Joy and despair work in tandem in Crowns as they do in life. This musical's signature blend of old ways and young dreams is found right in the music which is heavy on hymns but light on scoring, so no two productions ever sound quite the same. Directors Kara Tameika Watkins and Ian Anthony Coleman ground their vision for the piece in the story-telling tradition of "calling the circle." Watkins has worn many hats at Creative Cauldron in addition to her celebrated career as a performer on Washington's biggest stages. Her credits at Creative Cauldron include Caroline or Change, Once on This Island (choreographer), And the World Goes Round (choreographer), Jacques Brel is Alive and Well... in addition to numerous regional professional credits as an actor. Ian Anthony Coleman is a performer and teaching artist, who has performed at Arena Stage, Round House Theatre, Olney Theatre Center, Imagination Stage, Rep Stage and Constellation Theatre, and is a company member of Only Make Believe.

Music direction is provided by Cedric Lyles, a versatile musician who has been the Musical Director for an array of professional productions around the DC Metro area and the majority of ArtsCentric's productions. He currently serves as Performing Arts Director and Department Chair at the Barrie School in addition to his extensive music director credits.

Iyona Blake returns to Creative Cauldron as Velma. Blake is the 2017 Helen Hayes Award Winner for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical for her role as Caroline Thibodeaux in Creative Cauldron's Caroline, or Change. Iyona has recently been seen in Sound of Music (The Mother Abbess), Spunk (Blues Speak Woman), Ain't Misbehavin' (Armelia McQueen), Scottsboro Boys (The Lady, understudy/performed) and so many more. Iyona has written plays for children and adults.

Another returner to the Cauldron stage is Kelli Blackwell as Mabel, last scene at Creative Cauldron in 2019's Thunder Knocking at the Door. Kelli has also recently been seen in Amazing Grace (1st National), Chicago the Musical, Everyman Theatre: A Streetcar Named Desire, By the Way, Meet Vera Stark; Olney Theatre: Ain't Misbehavin', Ford's Theatre: Hope Dies Last (workshop), to name a few

Wanda will be played by Cameron Dashiell Cameron Dashiell is an actress and vocalist from Greenville, NC. She holds an MFA in Theatre Studies from Kent State University. Some of her credits include BJ in Smokey Joe's Café, Gary Coleman in Avenue Q, and Matron Mama Morton in Chicago.

Also making her Creative Cauldron debut is Eirin Stevenson in the role of Jeanette. You may have seen her in The Velveteen Rabbit (Child/Adventure Theatre MTC) Forest Treás (Steph/ Pointless Theatre), Rite of Spring (Ensemble/ Pointless Theatre), Visions of Love (Ensemble/ Pointless Theatre).

Kendall Arin Claxton steps in to the role of Yolanda, whose previous credits include Young Maya in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings at New Hazlett Theater/Prime Stage, and wrote, starred in, and directed her one-woman play Epiphany, and Stories from Within.

TiaJuana Rountree a professional soloist and recording artist, plays Mother Shaw makes her Cauldron debut, playing Mother Shaw for a second time. Recent credits include God's Trombones; Luther: The Story of Luther Vandross; Colorblind: The Katrina Monologues; he Gospel Songstress: The Story of Mahalia Jackson, Proposals (WATCH Nomination); Bye, Bye Birdie (WATCH Award. Tia has graced the stage with well-known gospel artists such as: Vickie Winnans, Marvin Sapp, and Tye Tribbett and is a former member of the world-renown a cappella group, Sweet Honey in the Rock.

Rounding out this extraordinary cast is Stephawn Stephens as Man. He recently directed A Nite at the Dew Drop Inn and Black Nativity at Anacostia Playhouse. Regional Credits are Kennedy Center: Earthrise, Color me Dark, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Alexander who is not going to move, Carmen Jones, Fords: 110 in the Shade; Arena Stage: Smokey Joe's Café, Crowns; Signature: Billy Elliot, Dreamgirls ; Olney: Little Shop of Horrors, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat; Round House: Once On This Island; Karamu House: The Black Nativity, The Swing Mikado.

The world of Crowns will once again be realized by the visionary costume and scenic design of Margie Jervis, in close collaboration with the directors on the story telling and symbolism woven in to the hats, and every other costume piece, from their motherland origins to social status to character traits. Margie is Creative Cauldron's scenic designer and former director of the Seattle Opera, and has won acclaim for her design work and puppetry. Lighting designed by Lynn Joslin, who was just nominated for a Helen Hayes award for her work on Creative Cauldron's original musical, On Air.

Tickets for Crowns may be purchased on-line at or by calling 703-436-9948.

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