MetroStage to Present BLACK PEARL SINGS! This Spring

Producing Artistic Director Carolyn Griffin is pleased to announce that MetroStage will present the award-winning play BLACK PEARL SINGS! by Frank Higgins April 21-May 29, 2016. Sandra L. Holloway will direct and William Hubbard will music direct this production.

BLACK PEARL SINGS! is about two extraordinary women in Depression-era Texas: an ambitious Library of Congress musicologist, searching for the African roots of slave songs, and the discovery of the musical gifts of an African American woman with a soulful voice and steely spirit. A powerful evocative story of how they must work together to fulfill both of their goals, it is a journey of race and reconciliation, religion and tenacity, and the historic search for the origins of indigenous folk music and the musical heritage of a people. Inspired by the discovery of legendary folk singer/guitarist Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter in prison by folklorist John Lomax and their subsequent musical partnership, and stories of the Gullah people in South Carolina and Georgia whose origins and musical traditions were ultimately traced back to a region outside of Sierra Leone BLACK PEARL SINGS! features 19 American folk and spiritual songs.

Playwright Frank Higgins is the author of a number of plays including The Sweet By N' By, which featured Blythe Danner and Gwyneth Paltrow. His work has been produced in New York and by many regional theatres across the country. BLACK PEARL SINGS! has had more than 40 productions in many regional theatres including InterAct Theatre Co. in Philadelphia where is received the Barrymore Award, San Jose Rep, Portland Center Stage, Penumbra Theatre, Geva Theatre Center, Northlight Theatre, Ford's Theatre and many more, making it one of the most produced plays as defined by Theatre Communications Group. Mr. Higgins teaches at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and is a member of The Dramatists Guild.

Director Sandra L. Holloway directed Ballon: the oomph that keeps you up there and Surrender: a mixed tape, both performed at the Kennedy Center's Hip Hop Theater Festival. Most recently, she choreographed for colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow is enuf at Theatre Alliance. She is a long time practitioner of devised theater and is the Artistic Director for City at Peace, a youth development program that uses the performing arts to develop skills in dance, theatre, voice and stage production as well as conflict resolution, personal storytelling and leadership.

Music Director William Hubbard was first seen on our stage in Harlem Rose, an original musical written by Thomas W. Jones with music composed by Mr. Hubbard. He has performed in MetroStage's productions of All Night Strut, Mahalia (HH nomination), Bricktop, and Pearl Bailey...by request, and music directed Harlem Rose, Gee's Bend (HH nomination) and Three Sistahs (where he also composed the music). He received the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Music Direction for Crowns at Arena Stage. He was Music Director for BLACK PEARL SINGS! at Ford's Theatre in 2009.

The Cast: Roz White (Alberta 'Pearl' Johnson) returns to MetroStage having been most recently seen here in Uprising and Shake Loose this season and in Bessie's Blues last season. At MetroStage she has also appeared in Bricktop, Two Queens, One Castle, Cool Papa's Party, Pearl Bailey...by request, Glimpses of the Moon, Josephine Tonight, Ladies Swing the Blues, and Ella Fitzgerald: First Lady of Song. She received a Helen Hayes nomination for her role in Gee's Bend (Lead Actress and Ensemble). Last year she also appeared on our stage as Mamie Till in Anne and Emmett, a role she recently toured to Indianapolis, Chicago and NYC. She graduated from Duke Ellington School of the Arts and Howard University.

Teresa Castracane (Susannah Mullally) is making her MetroStage debut. She was most recently seen inTheater › Hamlet, The First Quarto at Taffety Punk and When the Rain Stops Falling at 1st Stage. Locally she has performed at Signature Theatre and Ford's Theatre. She has performed Shakespeare in Philadelphia and Baltimore and has an MFA from the Academy of Classical Acting, The Shakespeare Theatre. Her BA is from Fordham University at Lincoln Center, New York.

Designers are: Carl Gudenius, set; Janine Sunday, costumes; Alex Keen, lights; Gordon Nimmo-Smith, sound. David Elias is the Production Stage Manager.

Performances for BLACK PEARL SINGS! are Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 8, Saturdays at 3 and 8, Sundays at 3 and 7, April 21-May 29, 2016. Tickets are $55-60 with student and active military discounts available. Press night is Sunday April 24 at 7 pm. For ticket reservations call the theatre at 703-548-9044 or go online to www.metrostage.org. For information and group sales call 703-548-9044. MetroStage is located at 1201 North Royal St. in North Old Town Alexandria. There is a free parking lot and fine dining nearby. The theatre is handicap accessible.



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