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Watch Trailer for Netflix’s ‘American Son’ (VIDEO)

Netflix has released the trailer for its highly anticipated new film American Son starring Kerry Washington, Steven Pasquale, Jeremy Jordan and Eugene Lee.

American Son is based on the Broadway play of the same name and features Washington as Kendra Ellis-Conner, the mother of a missing teenage boy, who is struggling to put the pieces together in a South Florida police station. Pasquale, Jordan and Lee reprise their roles in this televised adaptation which represents four distinct viewpoints, while also navigating the unique dynamic of an interracial couple trying to raise a mixed-race son.

American Son is directed by Tony Award winner and Atlanta own Kenny Leon. Washington and Pilar Savon serve as executive producers under Washington’s banner Simpson Street.  Jeffrey Richards and Rebecca Gold also serve as executive producers.

American Son was written by Christopher Demos-Brown.

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‘Soul Train Musical’ coming to Broadway in 2021 (VIDEO)

The story of Soul Train and its iconic founder Don Cornelius is coming to the Great White Way in 2021. The new production will be written by Ain’t Too Proud’s Dominique Morriseau, directed by Kamilah Forbes, choreographed by Tony Award nominee Camille A. Brown and executive produced by Grammy winner and hip hop icon Ahmir “Quest Love” Thompson.

Through more than 20 classic hit songs from the era, Soul Train will tell the personal story of Cornelius as he creates the iconic television series that transformed a generation and revolutionized black music.

“I am so excited to help bring the narrative of one of our culture’s most influential and legend-making endeavors to the stage,” said Dominique Morisseau. “Having grown up on this series and being immersed in the culture around it, I never knew what it took to make it the iconic staple that it is.  Through the socio-political challenges both internally and externally, Don Cornelius’ uncompromised vision, and the revolutionary dance culture that the show made visible to the mainstream, there are a million handprints on what we know as “Soul Train.”  I cannot wait to partner with this legendary creative team of incredible women to celebrate the history and the unsung heroes of our nation’s longest running televised music and dance series.”

Soul Train will be produced by Tony Award-nominee Matthew Weaver (Rock of Ages) and Jeffrey Tick (former owner of Broadway’s Helen Hayes Theater)alongside new general producing partner Richard Gay (5Pack Entertainment founder, and former EVP of Viacom’s Music Networks & BET Networks). It will also be executive produced by Don Cornelius’ son Tony Cornelius.

Soul Train will premiere in 2021 in celebration of the landmark series’ 50th Anniversary. It was created in 1971 by visionary Don Cornelius and predominantly featured performances by R&B, pop, soul, and hip-hop artists. It was also the longest running first-run, nationally syndicated program in television history.

Stay tuned…

PHOTO CREDIT: PNGDKEY.COM

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Kenny Leon to direct ‘A Soldier’s Play’ with David Alan Grier + Blair Underwood

BroadwayWorld is reporting that Tony Award winner Kenny Leon is set to direct a new production of A Soldiers Play on Broadway featuring veteran actors David Alan Grier and Blair Underwood.

The show will take place at the Roundabout Theatre Company and will begin preview performances on December 27 with an official open on January 21, 2020 at the American Airlines Theatre.

Ray Cornelius with Kenny Leon

“I think America needs to hear the newness and the freshness of this play.” ~ Kenny Leon

A Soldier’s Play is set in 1944 and follows the investigation into the murder of a black Sergeant on a Louisiana Army base. One tenacious investigator must race against his white leadership to unravel the crime before they unravel him.

The original production at the Negro Ensemble Company premiered Off-Broadway in 1981 and featured a cast of then rising superstars—Denzel Washington and Samuel L. Jackson along with the late Adolph Caesar and Larry B. Riley. It was later turned into a film in 1984 and renamed A Soldier’s Story. It featured much of the stage cast along with the late Howard E. Rollins, Robert Townsend, Art Evans, Patti LaBelle and David Alan Grier.

Watch the film’s original trailer below:

Click here for tickets!

PHOTO CREDITS: Roundabout Theatre Company + RayCornelius.com

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‘Tina: The Tina Turner Musical’ is coming to Broadway

Congratulations to Broadway star Adrienne Warren. She will be gracing the New York stage this fall as the incomparable Tina Turner in the new musical TINA.

Warren will reprise her role as the music icon beginning October 12 with a dazzling opening night on November 7. She starred in the much talked about West End production last March in London.

The show is written by Mountain Top‘s Katori Hall and will follow Turner’s career from her humble beginnings in Nutbush, Tennessse to her transformation into the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll. TINA is being presented in association with Miss Turner herself and will show how she defied the bounds of age, gender and race.

Joining Warren in the show is Daniel J. Watts (Hamilton) as Ike, Dawnn Lewis (The Wiz) as Zelma, Nkeki Obi-Melekwe as Tina Turner (At Some Performances) (Broadway Debut), Myra Lucretia Taylor (Nine) as Gran Georgeanna.

Watch Adrienne in action below singing “River Deep, Mountain High”:

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Pop Sensation Jason Derulo added to film version of ‘CATS’

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Pop music star Jason Derulo is taking his career to new heights! He has just secured a role in the new movie version of the Broadway musical—CATS.

According to PLAYBILL, Derulo will portray Rum Tum Tugger and is being described as a “curious, indecisive, feline sex symbol.” He will join previously announced stars – Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift, Ian McKellen, James Corden, Judi Dench and Idris Elba.

CATS tells the story of a cat tribe called the Jellicles and the night they make what is known as “the Jellicle choice” and decide which of them will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new life.  The show was composed by the iconic Andrew Lloyd Webber and is the fourth-longest-running musical in Broadway’s history.

Look for CATS to hit the big screen on December 20, 2019.

Watch a clip of Rum Tum Tugger’s infamous song below:

Photo Credit: Instagram/Jason Derulo

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First Look at Christiani Pitts in Broadway’s ‘King Kong’ (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Check out a first look at Christiani Pitts as Ann Darrow in the new King Kong Broadway show. To my knowledge, she is the first African-American actress to star in that role ever.

The original 1933 film featured the iconic Fay Wray, the classic 1976 version featured award-winning actress Jessica Lange and the 2005 version featured Naomi Watts.

Based on the 1932 novel, the stage production of King Kong is a contemporary take on the classic tale of beauty and the beast. The story follows a young actress, Ann Darrow, and a maverick filmmaker, Carl Denham, as they voyage from the bustling streets of 1930s New York to an uncharted island to capture the world’s greatest wonder. At the center of this 21st-century reimagining: a 20-foot high, 2,000-pound gorilla brought to life by a team of seamlessly integrated artists and technicians. King Kong is a larger-than-life encounter with a legend that’s always been too big to contain.

Joining Pitts on stage are Eric William Morris as Carl Denham and Erik Lochtefeld as Lumpy.

King Kong breaks free on Broadway Thursday, November 8.

Watch a sneak peek below:

Thanks Broadway World

Photo Credits: Joan Marcus/Broadway World

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Rehearsals Underway for ‘The Preacher’s Wife’ starring Ledisi (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Rehearsals are fiercely underway for Tituss Burgess #BroadwayBound theatrical production of The Preacher’s Wife. The show’s star Ledisi posted the above photo this week along with the caption:

“My friends in NYC are mad at me. Couldn’t hang out because I’ve been here #thepreacherswife It has been the most challenging piece ever. I’m in love. I’m better because of it and this cast. Thank you @titusssawthis@michaelarden @lodivadevine and @samps42 for pushing me towards my greatest self. Praying for more time around your greatness. 🙏🏾What a ride. @rontyoung thank ❤️😘. @chestergregory you already know BFF.”

As previously reported, The Preacher’s Wife is described as the story of one woman (Julia’s) journey to find her voice and strengthen her husband (the Preacher) and larger church community during a moment of financial crisis and emotional overwhelm. In a fast-gentrifying Harlem when they’re at risk of losing their church and their hope, an Angel appears and reminds them that a church is not a building, but the people who inhabit it and the love they share.

Joining Ledisi on this journey is Quentin Earl Darrington, Clifton DavisDonald WebberAlan GreenJian HarrellAbebaw SilverGerry McIntyreQ. Smith, and Ashley Jenkins. It also features Broadway icon and original Dreamgirl Loretta Devine, who starred in the 1996 remake with Whitney Houston, Courtney B. Vance, Jenifer Lewis and Denzel Washington.

RC will keep you posted as this continues to develop.

Photo Credit: Ledisi/Instagram a+ Aziedee/Instagram

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Colman Dot talks DOT + Donna Summer + James Baldwin with ‘UPFRONT’

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

Check out this past weekend’s edition of UPFRONT Inside Atlanta’s Entertainment Industry. It features my one-on-one interview with stage-screen-television actor Colman Domingo.

The award-winning Broadway star was in town last week promoting his stage production DOT, which is playing now through August 12 at the Southwest Arts Center.  Domingo also opens up about his Broadway show –  Summer: The Donna Summer Musical as well as his role in the film adaptation of If Beale Street Could Talk and much more.

Domingo is best known for his roles in SelmaLee Daniels’ The ButlerBirth of a Nation and Fear the Walking Dead.

Photo Credit: RayCornelius.com

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Jennifer Hudson + Taylor Swift to star in a film version of ‘CATS’

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Grammy-winning performers Jennifer Hudson and Taylor Swift have been cast in the film adaptation of the classic Broadway musical, CATS.

According to S&A, Hudson and Swift will join James Corden and Ian McKellan for the new production with Tom Hooper serving as director.

CATS tells the story of a cat tribe called the  Jellicles and the night they make what is known as “the Jellicle choice” and decide which of them will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new life.

The show was composed by the iconic Andrew Lloyd Webber and is the fourth-longest-running musical in Broadway’s history.

Stay tuned…

Photo Credit: Meningrey

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‘Michael Jackson Musical’ coming to Broadway in 2020

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

“Mamasay mamasa mamakusa…”

The legacy of the King of Pop—Michael Jackson—will come to life in a brand new Broadway musical in 2020.

According to VARIETY, the MJ Estate and Columbia Live Stage are developing a show inspired by the late entertainer’s career. The untitled project will be written by Lynn Nottage, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, whose works include Intimate Apparel and By the Way, Meet Vera Stark.

The show will also include many of Jackson’s classic songs including “Thriller,” “Smooth Criminal,” “Beat It,” and “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough.”  Tony Winner Christoper Wheeldon will direct and choreograph the production.

In January, we reported that MJ’s long-time collaborator Quincy Jones was teaming up with Jermaine Jackson for a musical about Michael. He reportedly has been in meetings with Jermaine and wanted to cast his 21-year-old son in the lead role. Jones also wants Julie Taymore of Lion King fame to direct the show.

RC will keep you posted as this project continues to develop.

Photo Credit: YouTube.com

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Kenny Leon releases a memoir ‘Take You Wherever You Go’

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Tony Award-winning Broadway director Kenny Leon has released a new memoir titled, Take You Wherever You Go. The book will be released on June 5, 2018 but is available now on Amazon. 

When Kenny Leon’s grandmother told him to “take you wherever you go,” she could hardly have anticipated that he would establish himself as one of Broadway’s most exciting and acclaimed directors. But through years of hard work, Kenny would migrate from a small wooden house in rural Florida to the Tony Awards’ stage, where he would win Best Direction of a Play for his 2014 revival of A Raisin in the Sun.

“You can do whatever you want to do. The only limits are the ones you set yourself. You have all you need in you right now.”

In Take You Wherever You Go, Leon reflects on the pillars of wisdom he learned every step of the way from the most important people in his life-from his grandmother’s sagacious and encouraging motivations to the steady hand of his mother to the deep artistic and social influence of iconic American playwright August Wilson.  The book also has a forward by Leon’s friend and film icon Samuel L. Jackson.

“Wow…on sale! I hope this book helps a few folks find their path to succes,” said Leon on social media.

Leon is currently directing Children of a Lesser God on Broadway, which is in its final two weeks through May 27. He is also directing Colman Domingo‘s DOT for his Atlanta-based True Colors Theatre Company this summer.

Photo Credit: Amazon.com + Instagram/IAMKENNYLEON

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Brandon Victor Nixon, Norm Lewis and more join NBC’s ‘Jesus Christ Superstar Live’

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

NBC’s live version of the Broadway musical classic Jesus Christ Superstar has added more big names to its cast. The new theatrical production will air on Easter Sunday April 1.

CONGRATS goes to Power actor Brandon Victor Dixon who will portray Judas, Daytime Divas star Norm Lewis as Caiaphas along with  Jason Tam as Peter, Ben Daniels as Pontius Pilate, Jin Ha as Annas and Erik Gronwall as Simon Zealotes. 

As previously announced, Grammy-winner John Legend is Jesus Christ and rock-n-roll legend Alice Cooper is King Herod.

Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert is loosely based on the Gospels’ accounts of the last week of Jesus’ life, beginning with the preparation for the arrival of Jesus and his disciples in Jerusalem and ending with the crucifixion.

S/O to my buddy and accomplished dance choreographer Juel D. Lane. He will also appear in the live production as one of the show’s dancers.

Stay tuned…

Photo Credit: NBC/Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert

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#UPFRONT talks to Spike Lee about a ‘School Daze’ Broadway Musical & more (AUDIO)

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

Check out my exclusive one-on-one interview with award winning filmmaker SPIKE LEE that aired during today’s edition of my radio show, UPFRONT!

Lee talked about the 30th Anniversary of his classic film, “School Daze” and how he had written the script long before he even conceived “She’s Gotta Have It. ” The movie is also loosely based on his four years as a student at Atlanta’s famed Morehouse College and was originally titled “It’s Homecoming.”

Lee also admitted to separating the female cast of the “Wannabees” and “Jigaboos” offset so that they’re on-set tension was authentic for the cameras. He is also looking to take the film to the Broadway stage in a new musical production instead of a sequel.

“There’s gonna be a Broadway musical of School Daze. People said that from the jump when it came out that this should be a musical,” said Lee. “We have to update some of those issues like apartheid. They’re protesting apartheid in the beginning of the movie and that part never comes up in the rest of the film.”

Lee also talked about the film’s iconic soundtrack that including the smash hit single, “Da Butt,” which he created and had Marcus Miller to write for the Washington D.C. Go-go band Sugar Bear & EU.

Lee will be hosting a special anniversary screening of “School Daze” this Monday, February 19 at Atlanta’s fabulous Fox Theatre at 7 p.m. Tickets are still available but seats are going fast!

Click here to reserve your tickets and click here for the full interview.

Photo Credits: RayCornelius

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Watch Leslie Odom Jr. sing ‘America the Beautiful’ (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Former “Hamilton” star Leslie Odom Jr. did his thing tonight during Super Bowl 52. The Tony Award winning Broadway actor and singer performed “America the Beautiful” as part of the pre-game show festivities. Odom, who most recently appeared in Murder on the Orient Express, performed the classic tune along with the assistance of a Minneapolis youth choir.  Check it out below and tell us what you think:

Photo Credit: YouTube.com/NBC