Stillman Colleges Theatrical Adaptation of The Five Heartbeats to Debut at Bama Theatre March 16-18
The Stillman College Institute for Jazz & Contemporary Music, led by its Director, Dr. Gregory McPherson, is sponsoring the production of this event.
The production of this play is part of a research initiative based on the cultural foundation as identified in the 20th Century Fox Film “The Five Heartbeats,” written by Robert Townsend and Keenan Ivory Wayans, and produced by Townsend. “It depicts the lives of five young men and their journey to super-stardom and fame, while addressing several of the issues that periodically plague individuals who find themselves in the very throws of the limelight in sports, entertainment, politics, and other high profile scenarios that are prevalent in today's society,” said McPherson. “We’re, indeed, very privileged to have the opportunity to develop and present a wonderful musical theatre adaption and interpretation of the work entitled “The 5HeartBeats,” said McPherson.
The play adaptation is written by budding actress Viveca Lauren Williams. Williams has appeared in The Madame C.J. Walker Story entitled, "MADAM" on Broadway, as well as several cameo appearances in films such as “Stomp The Yard” and “Big Mama's House.”
The play will be directed by two-time Emmy Award Winner, Dr. H.Q. Thompson, who was the driving force behind Debbie Allen's hit television series "FAME," and also served as the Music Director for the legendary Barry White.
Williams and McPherson have developed the music for the play. “It will feature a cameo appearance by members of the world famous Temptations, Mr. David Sea and Mr. Dennis Edwards, along with their vocal contributions on one of the songs entitled "Love Is Enough" from the cast album that we are finalizing,” said McPherson.
The choreographer is Eddie Morris who danced with the famed Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Dance Theatre of Harlem, The New York Ballet among several others. He also serves as Assistant Director of Bands and Auxiliaries Coordinator at South Carolina State University.
“The actors in this play are amazing,” said McPherson. His desire to make the event inclusive of the entire community is evidenced by the cast, which includes actors from Shelton State Community College, The University of Alabama Graduate Program, Alabama State University, The University of Alabama-Birmingham and Stillman College. “It is a remarkable group of people that are bringing to life this great work with immense talent,” he said.
McPherson explained, “Our lead partner in this effort is the Motown Alumni Association which has provided for the access and engagement of numerous artists and professionals. We have chosen to make this effort part of our three-year research initiative funded by the Motown Alumni Association. They allocated a $10 million grant to Stillman’s Institute for Jazz & Contemporary Music on October 4, 2010, focusing on three critical areas, which include various Performance Practices, Resources Management, and the Psychology of Entertainment. In this effort, we have developed an expanded script, with three cover tunes - two from the film "A Heart Is A House for Love" and “Nothing But Love," as well as one of the tunes from the Motown Catalogue licensed to us through our grant with the Motown Alumni Association entitled "The Bells" by Motown group - The Originals. The show is full of energy with these hip-slapping, toe-tapping soulful R&B tunes from the original screenplay as well as some original tunes that are also very hot numbers. There is a lot of singing & dancing, reflective of the Motown Era in its heyday,” McPherson continued.
McPherson is a musical pioneer who has worked with artists ranging from The Sounds of Blackness, Aretha Franklin, Peabo Bryson, Boston Ballet, New York Philharmonic, Bobby Jones, Lionel Hampton, Smokey Robinson, and New Kids On the Block. He is a widely acclaimed international producer, composer, conductor, and performer. His musical talent has led him to international travel including tours in Europe, Africa, The Caribbean, Latin & South America and Asia. He has mentored artists for four decades during his professorships at Berklee College of Music – Boston, Kobe University – Japan, and his current position as assistant director of bands at Stillman College. During the 52nd Grammy’s that took place January 31, 2010, McPherson had eleven former students and protégées as nominees.
Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased at the Bama Theatre ticket window, located at 600 Greensboro Ave., Tuscaloosa, AL 35401, or by phone at 205-758-5195. Advanced tickets are $10 and tickets sold at the door are $15.
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