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"Dorothy Dandridge: The Musical" Starring N'Kenge To Have Private Industry Reading on May 27
Posted by: Official_Press_Release 09:42 am EDT 05/22/21

PRODUCERS N'KENGE AND RICHARD BELL
TO PRESENT A PRIVATE INDUSTRY READING OF
"DOROTHY DANDRIDGE: THE MUSICAL"
BOOK & LYRICS BY TREY ELLIS
MUSIC & LYRICS BY SHELTON BECTON
DIRECTED BY TAMARA TUNIE

FEATURING: BROADWAY'S N'KENGE AS DOROTHY DANDRIDGE
WITH: AISHA de HAAS, DAWN DEROW, BENJAMIN EAKELEY, C.K. EDWARDS, DEWITT FLEMING, JR., JARED GRIMES, MARVA HICKS, JOHN PREATOR, NATALIE RENEE, AND STUART ZAGNET

PARK CENTRAL HOTEL (870 SEVENTH AVENUE)
THURSDAY, MAY 27, 2021

New York, NY – Producers N'Kenge and Richard Bell will present a private industry reading of "Dorothy Dandridge: The Musical" the true story of Hollywood's very first African- American movie star, with book & lyrics by 2-time Emmy Award winner Trey Ellis (King of the Wilderness, True Justice: Bryan Stevenson's Fight For Equality), music & lyrics by Shelton Becton (The Color Purple, Shuffle Along, Lady Day) and directed by Tony Award winner Tamara Tunie. The reading will be held at the Park Central Hotel (870 Seventh Avenue) on Thursday, May 27. For more information, please email dorothythemusical@gmail.com.

Dorothy Dandridge: The Musical charts the meteoric rise of a remarkable actor, singer and dancer from chitlin circuit barnstorming as a young girl to smoldering chanteuse integrating the Waldorf Astoria to her legendary performance in Otto Preminger's Carmen Jones, garnering her the first ever Best Actress Oscar nomination for a Black actor. Her story, however, takes a sharp turn after this peak. She discovers Hollywood in the 1950s and 60s has no place for a leading black woman, no matter how talented and beautiful. And neither do the men in her life, from legendary tap dancer Harold Nicholas to Preminger. For a time, like her friend Marilyn Monroe, booze and pills become her only lovers, but Marilyn's suicide at the height of her fame jolts Dorothy out of her downward spiral. But is it too little too late?

Dorothy Dandridge: The Musical is a joyous, spectacular song and dance celebration of a gorgeous woman pioneer who dared to dream. It is not a tragedy that she failed to fully realize them. It would have been a tragedy if she hadn't even tried. As she intones in the rousing final number, "For all the kings and queens and in-betweens crowding round my door...pity me not."

The cast, led by N'Kenge (Motown:The Musical, Sondheim On Sondheim and Caroline, or Change) in the title role includes: Aisha de Haas (Bring in Da Noise..., Newsies), Dawn Derow (Bistro Award winning vocalist), Benjamin Eakeley (Sweeney Todd, On a Clear Day...), C.K. Edwards (Shuffle Along, After Midnight), Dewitt Fleming, Jr. ("Boardwalk Empire", Cotton Club Parade), Jared Grimes (Twist, Scotsboro Boys), Marva Hicks(Motown: The Musical, Caroline or Change), John Preator ("American Idol"), Natalie Renee (Indianapolis Symphony), and Stuart Zagnet (Wicked, Newsies). The stage manager is Collette Ambo.

Dorothy Dandridge: The Musical is slated to do a two week workshop with Amas Musical Theatre and will be featured in the company's 4th Annual "Dare to be Different" Festival at A.R.T./New York Theatres in Spring 2022.

Creative Team Bios

N'Kenge (Conceiver/Producer/Performer) Heralded by the New York Times as "a classically trained diva that can stretch from Broadway, Pop, Soul to Opera," N'Kenge slayed the game on Broadway originating the role of Mary Wells in Motown: The Musical which garnered a Grammy Nomination for Best Musical Theater Album. Motown Founder Berry Gordy describes N'Kenge as"the most versatile artist I know" and NY Post called her performance of Mary Wells "ELECTRIFYING." This International Award Winning Singer's Musical range covers 11 languages and she has sung for Presidents and Dignitaries around the globe, including President Obama's historical Commander-in-Chief Inaugural Ball. N'Kenge has been seen as a soloist at world-renowned illustrious performance venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, Madison Square Garden and has headlined Pop and Opera concerts with Seattle Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, and Cleveland Orchestra, to name a few. N'Kenge has graced the stage as a presenter at the 58th Annual NY Emmy Awards. A proud alumni of both The Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music, N'Kenge made her Broadway debut in Sondheim on Sondheim and will return to Broadway in Spring 2021 in the revival of Caroline, or Change. This energetic, well-rounded singer has performed with jazz greats like Ornette Coleman and Wynton Marsalis and was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of the leading roles in both the Elton John/Tim Rice Musical Aida and in Marion Caffey's 3 Mo' Divas by the Helen Hayes Awards and the Arizona Theater Awards. N'Kenge is slated to star in the role of Jazz in Broadway bound musical Dangerous written by John Introcaso and Michael Colby. N'Kenge is the writer and creator of Forever Summer - A Tribute to Donna Summer that she will perform at Carnegie Hall in 2021. N'Kenge is thrilled to have TV producer Gina Goff helming her TV musical series "Black Butterfly" that she created as well as co-wrote with award winning writer Mary McCallum. For more details on N'Kenge's 2021-2022 tour schedule and recordings, please visit www.nkengemusic.com.

Richard Bell (Producer) Since 1974, Mr. Bell has served as President of Third World Cinema, (TWC) a New York Corporation organized to produce and distribute feature length motion pictures, television programming, and educational film with an emphasis on providing employment opportunities in front and behind the camera for minority group members. Third World Cinema has produced the full length feature Claudine starring James Earl Jones and Diahann Carrol; Greased Lightning starring Richard Pryor in his first principal role also starring Pam Grier. Mr. Bell served as Executive Producer. For Public Television, produced the Emmy Award winning documentary "Bearden Plays Bearden" on the life and works of the foremost Black Artist Romare Bearden. Mr. Bell was the co-producer of the Broadway and internationally acclaimed musical production Bubbling Brown Sugar, the production Mahalia and several off–broadway productions. Mr Bell recently co-produced a two disc DVD on Mr. Bearden for general and streaming release.

Trey Ellis (Book & Lyrics) is a two-time Emmy and Peabody winning filmmaker, American Book Award winning novelist, NAACP Image award winning playwright, essayist and Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia University's School of the Arts. Most recently, he was an Executive Producer and Interviewer for the HBO documentaries True Justice: Bryan Stevenson's Fight for Equality and King in the Wilderness. His screenplay Holy Mackerel! is one of the highest ever rated on Franklin Leonard's Black List.com. Some of his other screenplays include The Tuskegee Airmen for HBO and Good Fences for Showtime, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was shortlisted for the PEN award for Best Teleplay. His works have been screened at the Museum of Modern Art and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. He is the author of the novels, Platitudes, Home Repairs and Right Here, Right Now, as well as the memoir Bedtime Stories: Adventures in the Land of Single-Fatherhood. His essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Playboy, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, GQ and Vanity Fair and he has contributed audio commentary to NPR's "All Things Considered." His play, Fly, was commissioned by the Lincoln Center Institute and continues to be performed around the country including Washington, D.C.'s Ford's Theater, the Pasadena Playhouse and the New Victory Theater in New York. He is currently in rehearsals for a musical on the life of Dorothy Dandridge for which he wrote the book and is co-writer of the lyrics.

Shelton L. Becton (Music & Lyrics) In musical theatre Shelton has conducted productions of The Wiz and Ain't Misbehavin, The Color Purple, Memphis, Baby, It's You & Lady Day At Emerson's Bar & Grill. He also arranged two pieces for the revue Three Mo' Tenors, which toured the country and aired on a PBS special. He conducted the critically acclaimed "Nativity- A Life Story" with Stephanie Mills, BeBe Winans, Phylicia Rashad, Lillias White, and Freddie Jackson. He recently served as conductor of the Tony Award winning Broadway musical In The Heights, which played at The Westchester Broadway Theater. He was honored to serve as Music Supervisor for the 2014 production of Ragtime staged at the same theater. He was Conductor, Pianist & Actor in Lady Day At Emerson's Bar & Grill, starring with 6 time Tony Award winner, Audra McDonald in New York (Broadway) and London. In addition to his post as Music Director & Conductor of Eubie Blacke & Noble Sissle's Broadway producvtion of Shuffle Along, he also played and conducted the CSC production of Carmen Jones, featuring Anika Noni Rose in the starring role.

Tamara Tunie (Director) is a star of Film and Television with memorable performances in "Law and Order: SVU", The Red Road, Black Earth Rising, Almost Family, Dietland and many, many more. Broadway credits include Dreamgirls and Julius Caesar with Denzel Washington, to name a couple. Ms. Tunie's first "role" as Broadway producer, was on the team responsible for the Tony Award-winning musical Spring Awakening. She also produced August Wilson's Tony Award nominated Radio Golf, and Magic vs Bird. Off-Broadway, Ms. Tunie produced The Dutchman at The Cherry Lane theater, and the world premiere of Frog Kiss at Virginia Stage Company in Norfolk Virginia. She produced and directed the feature film See You in September, starring Justin Kirk and Estella Warren. Shooting on the streets of New York City, the film surrounds a woman who forms a support group for abandoned patients when all their therapists go on vacation in August and finds true love. Ms. Tunie also directed and co-wrote the world premiere of Jazzland at The Harlem School Of The Arts, and is directing the new musical Dorothy Dandridge, about the life of the legendary Hollywood movie star. In 2005, Mayor Bloomberg awarded Ms. Tunie the "Made in New York Award" from the City of New York for her support and commitment to Film, Television and Theater in Manhattan. Ms. Tunie is a Carnegie-Mellon University Alum.

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