Producers Richard Bell, N’Kenge, Park Row Equity Partners, Tegan Summer, Sam Williams, Michael Loeb and Derow Enterprises, in association with the Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts, announce the presentation of “The Songs of Dorothy Dandridge! The Musical,” selections from Dorothy Dandridge’s upcoming production! The Musical, with book and lyrics by Trey Ellis and music and lyrics by Shelton L. Becton, directed by Tamara Tunie at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall (881 7th Ave. & 57th St.)
Dorothy Dandridge! The Musical is a joyous and spectacular celebration of song and dance by a fearless pioneer who dared to dream, but tragically failed in her own aspirations. After getting her “big break” in Hollywood, the beautiful, ambitious and talented African American from Ohio inherits the challenges of being a prominent black woman in an industry dominated by white men. Additionally, Dandridge struggles to deal with his own demons, fame and wealth, and the promises of a powerful selection of men who pledge to stand by his side.
The Musical combines classics from the Great American Songbook with an original, contemporary score that crosses genres. The book and lyrics are by two-time Emmy and Peabody award-winning filmmaker and American Book Award-winning novelist, playwright and essayist Trey Ellis (The Tuskegee Airmen, Good Fences) with music and lyrics by bandleader and Tony Award-winning arranger, and musician Shelton L. Becton (The Wiz; Ain’t Misbehavin’, The Color Purple, Memphis). Tamara Tunie (“Law and Order: SVU”, Dreamgirls, Julius Caesar) is the director.
Leading the cast in the title role is N’Kenge, who recently co-starred in the Tony Award-winning musical Caroline, or Change, with Tony-nominated John Cariani (Fiddler on the Roof, Something Rotten! The Band’s Visit and Caroline, Or Change) as Earl Mills, Aisha De Haas (Bring In Da Noise, Bring In Da Funk, RENT and Caroline, Or Change) as Ruby Dandridge and Phillip Attmore ( Shuffle Along, Hello, Dolly!) as Harold Nichols.
The cast also includes Jeremy Webb as Otto Preminger, Mac Award winner Dawn Derow as Marilyn Monroe, Dominic Nolfi as Jack Dennison, Trisha Jeffrey as Vivian Dandridge, Natalie Renee as Etta Jones, Dewitt Fleming Jr. as Phil Moore and Grace Field like the Marilyn Monroe by your side.
N’Kenge, the musical’s lead designer and producer, is a longtime admirer of Dandridge as a brave 1950s black performer who helped pave the way for other black performers. Dandridge is not only the first African-American movie star to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress, but she’s also been nominated for a Golden Globe Award for her lead role (opposite Sidney Poitier) in the musical drama film 1959, Porgy and Bess. “My inspiration for bringing this iconic story to Carnegie Hall is that Dorothy Dandridge was a trailblazer, and it’s really important to me to shine a light on her activism, talent and stamina as an actress and mother – which are empowering! “
Dorothy Dandridge! The Musical is backed by Park Row Equity Partners, Park Central Hotel and Tony Award-winning producer Willette Klausner.
Trey Ellis (Book/Lyrics) is an Emmy and Peabody award-winning filmmaker, American Book Award-winning novelist, playwright, essayist, and professor of professional practice at Columbia University’s School of the Arts. Her play Satchel Paige and the Kansas City Swing has been performed nationwide, including at the Repertory Theater in St. Louis, the Cincinnati Playhouse, and the Vineyard Theater on Martha’s Vineyard. His play Fly has been performed at the Pasadena Playhouse, Ford’s Theatre, New Victory Theater and a dozen other venues. Fly won an NAACP Image Award and in 2017 a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award and continues to perform nationwide. He is also the author of the novels Platitudes, Home Repairs and the American Book Award Right Here, Right Now, as well as the memoir Bedtime Stories. His essays have appeared in The New York Times, Playboy, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, GQ, Vanity Fair, and NewYorker.com and he has contributed audio commentary to NPR’s “All Things Considered.”
Shelton L. Becton (Music/Lyrics) is a pianist, singer, composer, arranger, bandleader and vocal coach. He was musical director for Judy Collins, Phylicia Rashad, Roz Ryan, Patti Austin and Roberta Flack. Her compositions have been featured on ‘The Cosby Show’, ‘Roberta Flack’s Christmas Album’, The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir & The Broadway Inspirational Voices. His conducting credits include The Wiz, Ain’t Misbehavin’, The Color Purple, Memphis, Baby, It’s You, Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar & Grill with Tony Award winner Audra McDonald, Shuffle Along under the direction of George Wolf, & the Classic Directed by Carmen Jones with Anika Noni Rose, which won her the “Viv Award” for Best Musical Direction. He was also featured as a pianist and supporting actor in the HBO presentation of “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill”. Her voice can be heard in radio and television commercials, duets with Patti Austin and background vocals for Celine Dion, Vanessa Williams and Anita Baker. He was also the featured vocalist on Frankie Knuckles’ CD, “Beyond the Mix”. His first CD is called “Where Is God?” His latest credit is as conductor/music supervisor for “PERSONALITY”, the life story of singer and rock & roll star Lloyd Price at the 2022 season of Peoples Light Theater in Malvern, Pennsylvania.
Tamara Tunie (director) had the honor and pleasure of directing Feelin’ Good!, LaChanze’s Tony Award-winning autobiographical one-man show. She produced and directed the feature See You In September, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep (a ZOOM short), directed and co-wrote the world premiere of Jazzland at Harlem School of the Arts, and directs the new comedy musical Marian, about the life of the Diva of the Opera who changes the world. Also, under Ms. Tunie’s direction, Love And Southern Discomfort, a new musical in the sweltering south, is currently in development. Broadway Producer: Spring Awakening (TONY WARD), August Wilson’s Radio Golf (TONY Nomination), and Magic vs. Bird. Off-Broadway: The Dutchman (The Cherry Lane Theatre), Frog Kiss (Virginia Stage Company). Acting credits include, but are not limited to, Theatre: The 47th (The Old Vic, London), Julius Caesar, Dreamgirls, Oh Kay!, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music (Broadway); Build the Wall (New World Stages); Familiar – Obie Award for Distinguished Performance by an Actor (Playwrights Horizons); American Son – Berkshire Theater Award for Best Actor (Barrington Stage Company); 42nd Street (The Ordway), Prospero in The Tempest (Pittsburgh Public Theatre), The Library (The NY Public Theatre); Cat on a Burning Roof (Virginia Theatre). Ms. Tunie’s first “role” as television: “Cowboy Bebop”, “SEE”, “Black Earth Rising”, “Dietland”, “The Red Road”, “Law & Order: SVU”, “Almost Family”, “Better Call Saul”, “Blue Bloods”, “Billions”, “24”, to name a few. Film: I Wanna Dance with Somebody (December 2022), A Journal for Jordan, Flight, The Devil’s Advocate, City Hall, The Caveman’s Valentine She is Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Figure Skating in Harlem, sits on the Board of Directors of Harlem Stage/The Gatehouse and the City Theater Company in Pittsburgh. She also sits on the advisory board of Hearts of Gold and is a founding member of Black Theater United. Ms. Tunie is an acclaimed singer and her debut album “Dreamsville” was launched at the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival in 2019. In 2005, Mayor Bloomberg presented her with the city’s “Made in New York Award”. of New York, for his support and commitment to film, television and theatre. Ms. Tunie holds a BFA in Musical Theater from Carnegie-Mellon y University, and now sits on its board of directors. She’s originally from Pittsburgh (GO STEELERS!), but lives in Harlem.
N’Kenge (Conceiver/Performer) is an Emmy, Grammy & Tony nominated singer/actress. Heralded by The New York Times as “a classically trained diva who can span Broadway, Pop, Soul, to Opera,” N’Kenge killed the game on Broadway when she originated the role of Mary Wells in Motown: The Musical which earned a Grammy nomination for Best Musical Album. Motown founder Berry Gordy described N’Kenge as “the most versatile performer I know” and the NY Post called her performance of Mary Wells “electrifying”. The international award-winning singer’s musical range spans 11 languages, and she has sung for presidents and dignitaries around the world, including President Obama’s Commander-in-Chief’s historic Inaugural Ball. N’Kenge has been seen as a soloist in such illustrious world-renowned venues as Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, Madison Square Garden and has headlined pop and opera concerts with the Seattle Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony and Cleveland Orchestra. to name a few. N’Kenge is delighted to return to Carnegie Hall after being a soloist at the Stern Auditorium last April in the Suffrage Cantata. N’Kenge graced the stage as a presenter at the 58th Annual NY Emmy Awards and is a proud alumnus of The Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music. N’Kenge made her Broadway debut in Sondheim on Sondheim and returned to Broadway last fall in Caroline’s revival, Or Change to critical acclaim. “N’Kenge’s voice as The Moon is soaring, pure, effortless, beautiful.” 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 lead roles in Elton John/Tim Rice Musical Aida and in Marion Caffey’s 3 Mo’ Divas by the Helen Hayes Awards and the Arizoni Theater Awards. N’Kenge is set to star as Jazz in the Broadway musical Dangerous written by John Introcaso and Michael Colby directed by Tony-nominated director Denis Jones. N’Kenge is thrilled to have TV producer Gina Goff directing her “Black Butterfly” musical series which she created and co-wrote with award-winning writer Mary McCallum. For full details of N’Kenge’s 2022-2023 tour schedule and recordings, please visit www.nkengemusic.com
There will be two (2) performances – Sunday July 17 and Monday July 18, both at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at www.dorothydandridgemusical.com. For more information about the show, email [email protected]