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  • CANCELLED: New Venture Theatre presents ‘Annie: Tomorrow is Here’

    New Venture Theatre presents Annie, one of America’s most beloved musicals, March 27 – 29, on the LSU Shaver Theatre Stage.

    “Annie” is directed by New Venture’s artistic director Greg Williams Jr. and choreographed by Dwight Bell, with music direction by Marcus Haney. Showtimes and tickets for “Annie” are available.

    A fixture on the theatre scene in Baton Rouge, Williams usually directs shows with a certain flair from the original. Williams is basing this production in Harlem, New York, during the launch of the Harlem Renaissance. To lead the cast in understanding the fashion and style of this era, R’Myni Watson, “Annie’s” assistant director, will offer historical workshops to the cast throughout rehearsals.

    “I was inspired to do this show because one of my actors came up to me after a production last season and said, ‘I wish I could do Annie, but I can’t because I’m Black.’ This got the gears in my mind working, and I had to ask the question: why can’t Annie be any race possible?”

    “One of my favorite movies is Disney’s Cinderella (1997), and I loved how they focused on telling a beautiful story that we can all relate to and connect with—not just one race! What a beautiful gift it would be to have a show featuring all different walks of life telling a universal story that celebrates uniting us and not dividing! At the end of the day, ‘Annie’ represents a much-needed reminder of perseverance, hope, faith, and joy! In spite of difficult times and the hardships Annie suffers, she remains resilient!” Williams said.

    In order to set a similar context for the audience, Williams’ production will feature a scenic design that celebrates Harlem during the 1920s and 1930s.
    “The goal of our cast is for audience members to be caught up in the colorful, vivid imagination of a child, Annie’s optimism, and know—as she does—that a new day will always dawn, bringing hope for the future,” Williams said.

    The 34-member cast will portray the memorable “Annie” characters, including the evil Miss Hannigan, who runs the orphanage; the orphan girls, who help Annie escape; orphans she meets in her search for family; Clayton Powell Jr. and members of his administration; Rooster and Lily (pretending to be her long-lost parents); and the billionaire Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks, who brings Annie into his own family. Annie is a family-friendly musical suitable for the entire family, including children aged 5 and older. No one under the age of four will be allowed in the theatre and all children ages 4-13 must be accompanied by an adult.

    ANNIE CAST
    Christine Jean-Batiste – Annie
    T C Scott – Daddy Warbucks
    Hope Landor – Grace
    Erika Pattman – Ms. Hannigan
    Candy – Sandy
    Orphans: Laila Miles – Molly; Jermany Oliney – Kate; Addison Papillion – Tessie; and Zaria Brown – Pepper
    Carlyle Rufalo – July, Usher 1
    Alysse Davis – Duffy, Usher 2
    Jarvis Stewart – Bundles McCloskey, Man 1, Bert Healy, Ickas, and Judge Brandeis
    Brandon Ray – Couple 2, Man 2, Male servant 1, Navy sailor 1, Sound effect man, and Perkins
    Justin Thompson – Dog Catcher, Drake, Man Carrying Gifts, Jimmy Johnson, and Hull
    Dion Sideboard – Assistant Dog Catcher, 2nd Policeman, Male Servant 4, Thief, and Rooster
    Tyelor Sykes – Policeman, Lt. Ward, Chauffer, Santa, Masked Announcer, and Morganthau
    Anthony Joe – Man 3, Male servant 2, Navy sailor 2, Fred McCracken, and Marine guard
    Henry Holmes – Paperboy 2
    Braedon Mbala – Cop, Elf, Producer
    Christian Jones – Clayton Powell Jr.
    Kodie Brown – Hooverville Member #4, Servant #3, Navy sailor #3, and Howe (Louis)
    Kennedi Davenport – Apple Seller, Mrs. Greer (Housekeeper), Star to Be, and Boyland Sister (Bonnie)
    Mackenzie Thomas – Couple, Woman, Cecille the French Maid, and Showgirl 2
    Nataklemia Green – Sophie (Soup Cook), Mrs. Pugh, and Shopper 1
    Charde Nelson – Eddie, Annette (the French Maid), and Showgirl 1
    Maniquwa Holmes – Woman 2, Shopper 2, and Lily
    Kali Jones – Woman 3 and Showgirl 3
    Kaylee Gomez – Woman 4, Shopper 3, and Boylan Sister (Ronnie)
    Courtney Myer – Woman with a baby carriage, and Boylan Sister (Connie)
    Braydon Smith – Paperboy 1

    SCHEDULE:
    Friday, March 27, 2020, at 7:30 p.m.
    Saturday, March 28, 2020, at 7:30 p.m.
    Sunday, March 29, 2020, at 3:00 p.m.

    TICKET PRICES:
    Regular Admission | $30
    Kids and Students With Valid ID | $25
    Groups of 10 or More | $20 must purchase prior to performance day

    BOX OFFICE
    225-588-7576 or www.newventuretheatre.org
    Call 225-588-7576 or visit www.newventuretheatre.org to purchase tickets or subscriptions.

    Read more »
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    After burning bridges, a singer struggles to get back on top

    New Venture Theatre continues its 12th season with a new musical written and directed by managing artistic director Greg Williams Jr., running July 26-28 at the LSU Shaver Theatre.

    SWEET GEORGIA BROWN tells the story of the diva herself, Georgia, who has thoroughly burned her bridges in the music industry. Rumor has it she physically assaulted Etta James, cursed out Dr. Martin Luther King, and maybe even stole the Tree of Hope from the Apollo Theatre. Determined to get back on top of the charts, Georgia takes a gig in a hole-in-the-wall club. In the process, she befriends a group of colorful characters who help her grow out of her wild ways and get back on top.

    Featuring a live on-stage band and chock-full of memorable blues songs of the ’60s and ’70s, like “I Put a Spell on You,” “Let the Good Times Roll” and “Down Home Blues,” SWEET GEORGIA BROWN is sure to move audiences with its songs and funny, heartwarming story.

    Featured cast members include: Khari Moise Smith (Cadillac), Roderick Tevan Jarreau (Herschel), Ingrid Roberson (Nippie), LaNea Wilkinson (Ruby), Krystal Gomez (Ida Mae), Latosha Knighten (LaWanna-The Juke Joint Jezebel), Shika Crayton (Sippie), Keyarron Harrold (Mojo), Angela Smith (Ollie), Hope Landor (Sugga), Erika Pattman (Georgia), Christian Jones (Pound Cake), and Christopher Johnson (Hatch.)

    FACT SHEET
    WHAT:
    SWEET GEORGIA BROWN
    WHERE:
    LSU Shaver Theatre
    Louisiana State University
    Music and Dramatic Arts Building, #105
    Baton Rouge, LA 70802
    SCHEDULE:
    Thursday, July 25 at 7:30 p.m.
    Friday, July 26 at 7:30 p.m.
    Saturday, July 27 at 2:00 p.m.
    Saturday, July 27 at 7:30 p.m.
    Sunday, July 28 at 3:00 p.m.
    TICKET PRICES:
    Regular Admission | $30
    Kids and Students With Valid ID | $25
    Groups of 10 or More | $15 must purchase prior to performance day
    BOX OFFICE:
    225-588-7576 or www.nvtarts.org
    PG-13 Show (Recommended for Ages 14+)
    Show contains adult content and language. No one under the age of four will be allowed in the theatre and all children ages 4-13 must be accompanied by an adult.
    Call 225-588-7576 or visit www.nvtarts.org to purchase tickets or subscriptions.
    Read more »
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    ‘b-side for tray’ comes to Baton Rouge, April 29

    Kimber Lee’s beautiful play, Brownsville Song (b-side for tray), tells the story of a family grieving the tragic loss of 18-year-old Tray, who was shot in his neighborhood of Brownsville, New York. Moving fluidly between past and present, this dynamic new play explores a family at its weakest and strongest moments. Through its intimate portrayal, we’re challenged to resist complacency and reminded of the true value of every life.

    Brownsville song (b-side for tray) runs 7:30pm Saturday, April 29, at and 3pm Sunday, April 30, at Louisiana State University, Music and Dramatic Arts Building.The production is directed by New Venture Theatre’s The Piano Lesson director Tim Sandifer and features an all-star cast including Dwayne Butler, Denisa Joshua, Addison Jordan, Krystal Blatcher, Drelan Evans, and Dion Sideboard.

    Director Tim Sandifer is a theatre director and teacher originally from Baton Rouge who has worked in numerous capacities at Theatre Baton Rouge, Independence Park Theatre, Baker Little Theatre and many other performance venues throughout the region.
    He has trained, performed and directed in many places throughout the world. He received his undergraduate degree from Northwestern State University of Natchitoches in theatre directing/performance and technical theatre and design. From there he went on to receive his Master of Fine Arts from East 15 Acting School, a part of The University of Essex in London. Tim worked at GITIS – The Russian University for Drama in Moscow. There he worked with direct assistants of Constantin Stanislavski.
    Tim currently serves as the Theatre and Fine Arts teacher at Plaquemine Senior High School. He lives with his wife and fellow Artistic Director of Spotlight Performing Arts Academy, Amber Sandifer, and their three-year-old daughter in Port Allen.
    CAST:
    Tray – Dwayne Butler
    Lena – Denisa Joshua
    Devine – Addison Jordan
    Merrell – Krystal Blatcher
    Junior – Drelan Evans
    Brooklyn College Student – Dion SideboardDESIGN & PRODUCTION STAFF:

    Scenic Designer – Tim Sandifer
    Costume Designer – Christian Jones
    Lighting Designer – Piper Productions
    Properties Designer – Melanie Williams
    Stage Manager – Chelsea Ciconne
    Sound Designer – Bryan Jareau
    TICKET PRICES:Regular Admission | $27
    Students With Valid ID | $22
    BOX OFFICE:     225-588-7576 or www.nvtarts.org
    Group rates available and special pricing available for student groups. Call 225-588-7576 or visit www.nvtarts.org  to purchase tickets or subscriptions.
    Read more »
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    New Venture to present ‘Black Nativity’

    For more than five decades, “Black Nativity” performances have swept International theaters. The play is a is a powerful retelling of the Nativity story from a Black perspective. In Baton Rouge, the New Venture Theatre will present this soul-stirring rendition of the Christmas Story that fills the theatre with thrilling voices, exciting dance and glorious gospel music.

    Directed by Greg Williams Jr. of New Venture, the two-hour show will be performed at the LSU Shaver Theatre. The show runs Saturday, Dec. 17 at 7:30pm and Sunday, Dec. 18 at 3pm. The show is G-rated and appropriate for all ages. Tickets are $27 before December 1.

    The original Black Nativity was written in 1961 by poet Langston Hughes. The cultural viewpoint and gospel music make Black Nativity a unique performance piece. Often adapted, this version of the production will take the audience from a traditional black church to an Africanized Jerusalem through dance, powerful spirituals and anthems, and toe-tapping gospel numbers.

    The play tells the story of Mary and Joseph’s journey through song and dance, culminating in a rousing finale surrounding the birth of Christ. According to New Venture, the importance of the play is that, though an expression of Christian belief via the African-American perspective, the show appeals to all walks of life.

    Read more »
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