Posted by: Official_Press_Release 12:42 pm EST 12/14/18

New Play with Gospel Music
Launches Tour in New York
In Celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday

Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom

Based on the Memoir
“Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom:
My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March”

New York Performances January 19 & 20

The Riverside Church of New York
490 Riverside Drive
New York, NY 10027

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 90th birthday, the new play with gospel music Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom will play a special engagement at The Riverside Church of New York. The true story of Lynda Blackmon Lowery, the youngest person to march all the way from Selma to Montgomery in the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March, was developed for the stage by Ally Sheedy and is directed by Fracaswell Hyman. The stage adaptation is based on the award-winning book by Lynda Blackmon Lowery, as told to Elspeth Leacock and Susan Buckley and illustrated by PJ Loughran. New York performances will be held on January 19 and 20 to begin the production’s 2019 tour.

Jailed nine times before the age of 15 and embarking on the historic march for African American voting rights, Lynda Blackmon Lowery’s story is brought to life in this play infused with gospel music and freedom songs. Lowery recounts her youth in the segregated South—from being savagely beaten on Bloody Sunday to triumphantly marching with Dr. King to the state capital. Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom is a powerful reminder of the pivotal role young people play in shaping history and the impact of steady, loving confrontation in the ongoing quest for Civil Rights.

Exactly one year before his April 4, 1968 assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood in The Riverside Church before a crowd of over three thousand to deliver his “Beyond Vietnam” address against the sins of poverty, racism, and militarism. In 1985, the Riverside Church congregation voted to rename the southern wing of the building The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Wing—The Riverside Theatre is housed in this wing. The church and the theatre in turn are dedicated beacons of activism and social justice and have been so since their founding.

Ally Sheedy (The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire, Psych, The Little Sister (2016)) developed the stage adaptation of Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for Music, Art, and Performing Arts in 2015 with the commanding young actor Damaras Obi, who will reprise her performance at Riverside Church. Since its first incarnation as a one-person show, and under the direction of Fracaswell Hyman, Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom has been developed into a 6-character play full of stirring gospel and freedom songs, playing to sold-out audiences on the road. This January’s New York performances mark the beginning of the production’s 2019 tour, through Black History Month and Women’s History Month, traveling to Little Rock, AR; Millersville, PA; and more destinations to be announced.

Public performances at New York’s Riverside Church (Theatre entrance at 91 Claremont Avenue near 120th St.) are Saturday, January 19 at 2:00pm and 7:00pm and Sunday, January 20 at 2:00pm & 6:00pm. Tickets will go on sale starting on December 16; priced at $30, and $20 for students and seniors, and can be purchased at https://turning15atriverside.eventbrite.com or by calling 212-870-6792.

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