One year ago today on March 6, 2016, Eclipsed made history with the official opening on Broadway. Eclipsed, a play about women during wartime Liberia, was the first play to feature an all female cast, writer, and director. The play was critically well received and would go on to be nominated for several awards including the Tony Award for Best Play. A recent documentary aired on Centric TV about the play’s historic run. At the conclusion of the documentary, playwright and activist Danai Gurira reminds us that “there is work to be done, and we are all capable of doing something.”


Black actors in Wicked leading roles

Elphaba: Alexia Khadime (West End), Brandi Chavonne Massey (Broadway u/s), Dan'yelle Williamson (Chicago u/s), Lilli Cooper (2nd national tour u/s, Melbourne & Broadway s/b), Saycon Sengbloh (Broadway s/b)

Fiyero: Clifton Oliver (Broadway u/s), Derrick Williams (1st national tour, Broadway & Los Angeles), Taye Diggs (Broadway)

Madame Morrible: Celisse Henderson (1st national tour u/s), Dioni Michelle Collins (Chicago, Los Angeles & Broadway u/s), Myra Lucretia Taylor (1st national tour)

Wizard: Ben Vereen (Broadway), Jay Laga'aia (Australian tour)

Dr Dillamond: K Todd Freeman (1st national tour, Chicago & Broadway)


Today is the closing date to Eclipsed. Here’s why it’s important:

  • First to feature an all-female cast & creative team 
  • a female cast
  • a female writer 
  • And director.
  • A BLACK female cast
  • A BLACK writer
  • A BLACK director

Nominated for 6 Tonys. One of the most important shows of the year.

Girl Talk
From left: Eclipsed’s Akosua Busia, Zainag Jah, Pascale Armand, Lupita Nyong'o, and Saycon Sengbloh in Nyong'o’s dressing room, designed by Mike Harrison, at the John Golden Theatre. “This play is not only the first to feature an all-female cast, author, and director,” the Oscar-winning actress says, “but it is also explicitly about five women brought together by the perils of war. It’s one of the most exhausting and spiritually rewarding experiences of my life.”


Michael Arden, man of the moment in L.A. theater, stages a revival of a famously ‘troubled’ musical

“I don’t know what I’m doing.”

Director Michael Arden is addressing his cast and crew, assembled in a large circle on the first day of rehearsals for “Merrily We Roll Along” at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills.

For the next five weeks, these people will gather in the confines of a black-box theater for eight hours a day, six days a week in preparation for their opening Wednesday.

Arden does, in fact, know what he’s doing. He’s been thinking about “Merrily” for a long time. In high school, he played the small role of the club pianist and understudied the show’s lead character, Franklin Shepard. Now, nearly 20 years later, Arden is staging a revival of the famously “troubled” Stephen Sondheim-George Furth musical, which opened on Broadway in 1981 and closed after only 16 regular performances and 44 previews.

Many, including the critics, found the show’s structure confusing. “Merrily” revolves around three friends — Franklin, Mary and Charley — beginning in 1976 as jaded adults and playing backward to 1957 when they were just starting out, full of hope and optimism.

“I think it was ahead of its time,” Arden says. “People absorbed information through entertainment in a different way than they do now. We soak up information in a way that is not as straightforward and linear as it once was.”

Interest in the musical has never waned. It’s been staged around the world, and its songs, including “Not a Day Goes By” and “Old Friends,” are regularly performed in cabarets and concerts. A new documentary, “Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened,” directed by original Broadway cast member Lonny Price, premiered at the New York Film Festival in October and hit theaters Nov. 18.

For Arden, it was the music — for which Sondheim received a Tony nomination — and the musical’s message that drew him back to the show.

“I fell in love with it,” he says. “What it has to say about how and why we sacrifice our ideals to achieve our dreams is really important and something worth examining for audiences now.”

Keep reading

Need to listen to/watch a an uplifting or calming song? Here some, but a warning: you may cry. And that’s okay.

“Almost There” (live) from Disney’s Princess and the Frog as performed by Anika Noni Rose

“Beauty and the Beast” medley performed by Paige O’Hara

“Believe In Yourself” (The Wiz) as performed by Saycon Sengbloh

“Circle of Life” from Disney’s The Lion King

“Climb Every Mountain” from The Sound of Music

“Colors of the Wind” (Disney’s Pocahontas) as performed by Vanessa Williams

“Defying Gravity” as performed by Joanna Ampil

“Do You Hear the People Sing? (Finale)” from Les Miserables

“Don’t Rain on My Parade” performed by Lea Michele at the Tony Awards

“Edelweiss” (Reprise) from The Sound of Music

“For Good” (Wicked) as performed by Kerry Ellis and Joanna Ampil

“God Help the Outcasts“ from Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame

“I Can Go the Distance” from Disney’s Hercules

“I Wish” performed by Heather Headley

“Let It Go” (Disney’s Frozen) performed live by Lea Salonga

“Memory” performed by Joanna Ampil

“My Shot” (audio only) from Hamilton

“One Voice” sung by Lea Salonga

“Reflection” (Disney’s Mulan, longer version) performed live by Lea Salonga

“Sabbath Prayer” from Fiddler on the Roof (movie)

“Somewhere” from West Side Story (audio only) as sung by Audra McDonald

“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” performed by Audra McDonald

“Through Heaven’s Eyes” live (Dreamworks’ The Prince of Egypt) performed by Brian Stokes Mitchell

“When You Believe” from Dreamworks’ The Prince of Egypt

“You’ll be in my Heart” from Disney’s Tarzan

“You’ll Never Walk Alone” performed by Audra McDonald