Mahogany Reynolds

15 Questions With Mahogany Reynolds

Last night Slow Bullet, My Three Loves opened at Manhattan Repertory Theater to great success, partly because of the acting ability of Ms. Mahogany Reynolds.  Mahogany is a brave, unrelenting actress who fearlessly took on the role of Rhea Davies, a deeply complex character in the middle of a breakdown.    While preparing for her for the show, Mahogany answered our 15 questions so you could get to know her a little better.   But all you really need to know is that you don’t want to miss the rest of Mahogany’s performances in Slow Bullet, My Three Loves because it’s out of this world!

1. What intrigued you about Slow Bullet, My Three Loves and your character in particular? I was intrigued by the deep subject matters. Depression. Mental Illness. Stigmas about those two subject matters within the Black community. I was also intrigued by the serious subject of suicide. Especially with so many prominent individuals dying of suicide or suspicious deaths lately. As well as, far too many young people committing suicide. I was also intrigued by how multifaceted and complex Rhea Davies is. Ordinary, she is definitely not! Moreover, I was fascinated by the stories of her three loves. And how these men have shaped, and in some ways, deformed, her life. Especially, her relationship with her lover, Jordan. That relationship; I believe, affected her the most.

2. If you could impart any words of advice to your character, what would you say? One word. FIGHT. I wrote her a long letter; three nights before the opening of the show, to impart this advice to her.

3. Which actors/actresses influence you the most?Angela Basset, Meryl Streep, Cicely Tyson, Ruby Dee, Nia Long, Viola Davis, Jody Foster, Denzel Washington, Anthony Hopkins, Leonardo Dicaprio, Sidney Poitier, Phylicia Rashad, Taraji P. Henson, Lawrence Fishburne, Whoopi Goldberg, Mariska Hargitay, Lily Tomlin, Jenifer Lewis, and Regina Hall…to name a few.

4. If you could play any role, who would it be? Well, I am playing a role that I love. Rhea Davies is definitely a dream role. Any role that allows me to fully express myself artistically, with no barriers, is a role I want to play. I have a real strong personality and so I seek out female characters that mirror me. In addition to that, I’d love to portray Diana Ross. She’s beyond fabulous. A movie or stage play about her life story would be really cool to play. Plus, I’m from Detroit, so that would be awesome.

5. What is your favorite movie?  “Love Jones” by far, when it comes down to romance, sexuality, sensuality, heartache, and love between a black man and woman. What is your favorite play?“A Raisin in the Sun” because it’s a bold play that tells a bold story. I love anything bold. So long as it has a purpose. Ironically, I’ve recently been cast, to play the character “Ruth Younger” in this legendary play! I’m super excited about that.

6. Who is your superhero alter ego and why?Wonder Woman, no doubt! Because I’m tall physically. And I walk tall in my spirit and attitude. Plus, she’s smart. So am I. She’s a seductress. So am I. She’s a warrior. So am I. I don’t back down easily. I’m brave. I don’t scare easily. And I try to stand up for what’s right, no matter how difficult the fight will be. Plus, I love her costume. It’s so bad ass and super sexy! And that dominatrix thing she got going on with that rope. Yeah baby, she’s my alter ego bad chick for sure!

7. What would your theme song be?“I’m Every Woman” by Chaka Khan remixed by Whitney Houston. My favorite lyrics are: “Whatever you want. Whatever you need. Anything you want done baby. I’ll do it naturally. Cause I’m every woman. It’s all in me.”

8. If you were exiled to an island, what three items would you take with you? A framed photograph of my son. My journal and ink pen set. And a bottle of William Hill Estate Napa Chardonnay.

9. What is your favorite season and why? Summer. I love sun and heat. Because I hate wearing lots of clothes. I love being as naked as possible. With sophistication of course.

10. What is your favorite accessory? A sexy pair of panties. No matter what you are wearing, there’s something about having on a sexy pair of panties, that brings out the seductress in me.

11. If we lived in a clothes optional society, would you choose to wear clothes or go naked? Naked, all the way baby! Hence, my answer to question 9. Women have to deal with body image issues our entire damn lives! Men are visual. Sadly, many women go nuts trying to cater to a man’s visual needs. And stroke his ego. I don’t have time for that! So, when I declare naked, it’s not to please any one, but ME. I love the skin I’m in. So why not wear it exclusively. If you were a fly on my wall, when I’m totally alone, you’d catch me naked rather often.

12. What is your guilty pleasure?Sex in public places, when I can get away with it.

13. What is your favorite dish?A big handmade cheeseburger; with all the toppings (hold the mayo and the onions); some hot french fries, coupled with an ice cold Sam Adams craft beer.

14. If your friends and family could sum you up in one word, what would it be? Ambitious

15. What are you most proud of?My son. When I became a mom, I evolved. I expanded spiritually. I grew mentally. I enhanced physically. And I elevated intellectually. My son is my biggest and greatest accomplishment. We’re super close. And he’s just a super awesome kid.

 

LR_035a

15 Questions With Lamar Richardson

Lamar Richardson is the personification of “talented tenth.”  He’s ivy-league educated; a member of the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for Black men and an extremely talented and dedicated actor. He also has a smile that’s infectious. To me he’s a wonderful ray of light that I’ve been blessed to work with.  Like the character “Baby Boy,” Lamar brings purpose, hope and humor to everyone he meets.  His journey may have started down bottom in North Carolina, but it’s surely destined for the stars.

I asked Lamar 15 questions so that you FAMERS can get to know the man behind “Baby Boy” a little better.  But if you really want to see him shine…don’t forget to get your ticket for Slow Bullet, My Three Loves.

1. What intrigued you about Slow Bullet, My Three Loves and your character in particular?

I loved that the script tackles such deep, often unsung, material. I always long for a theater piece with a powerful message, and ‘Slow Bullet, My Three Loves’ spoke me in a special way. I especially connected with Baby Boy because I find myself serving a similar purpose in my own personal life.

2. If you could impart any words of advice to your character, what would you say?

The world is a better place because your spirit lives on and shines a bright light in many dark places. You’re truly a rainbow in the clouds.

3. Which actors/actresses influence you the most?

I am a big fan of Don Cheadle, Laurence Fishburne, Danny Glover, Forest Whitaker, and, of course, Denzel Washington.

4. If you could play any role, who would it be?

I would love to do someone’s biopic, similar to Jamie Foxx in ‘Ray.’

5. What is your favorite movie?  What is your favorite play?

My favorite movie is ‘Ray,’ followed by ‘Hotel Rwanda.’ My favorite play would have to be one of August Wilson’s pieces. I’d say ‘Fences,’ but I love his body of work in general. I’m also a big fan of biopics.

6. Who is your superhero alter ego and why?

I’d have to say Spiderman because he’s so dynamic and versatile. I love his ability to jump from buildings and skyscrapers while saving the world.

7. What would your theme song be?

My theme song would definitely be ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey because I love its comforting message of hope.

8. If you were exiled to an island, what three items would you take with you?

I would take a mini-fridge, my cell phone, and a blanket.

9. What is your favorite season and why?

Summer is my favorite season because the sun is out and it’s a great time of the year for traveling and festivities.

10. What is your favorite accessory?

My Columbia University class ring because it was a gift from my mother.

11. If we lived in a clothes optional society, would you choose to wear clothes or go naked?

Depends on the temperature…lol!

12. What is your guilty pleasure?

My guilty pleasure would have to be binge watching ‘Empire’ and ‘Power.’

13. What is your favorite dish?

Baked macaroni and cheese

14. If your friends and family could sum you up in one word, what would it be?

Charismatic

15. What are you most proud of?

Being the first Ivy League graduate in my family.

 

New Strange Fruit Redux Art

Strange Fruit Redux Goes To Queens

SFR Flying Solo 1

Since its debut last July, Strange Fruit Redux has continued to make its mark.  Strange Fruit Redux tells the story of 25-year-old visual artist Nathan Strange, who is on the verge of becoming the latest sensation in the NYC art scene.  While working on his final painting, Nathan expresses his views about black culture and what it means to be black in the new millennium moments before a confrontation with NYPD.  Strange Fruit Redux is a series of poem monologues mixed with music and sio-political, pop culture sound bites geared to show the fears and frustrations of the modern day black man.

In March Strange Fruit Redux played to a sold-out audience at the Downtown Urban Arts Festival.  This May Strange Fruit Redux will perform at the Flying Solo Festival in Queens.  Tickets are available at https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/958683.

Although Strange Fruit Redux is playing at the Secret Theatre, the secret is out…NYC can’t get enough of Strange Fruit Redux!

STRANGE FRUIT REDUX Poster Art 2

Strange Fruit Redux Returns to NYC

In July 2015 STRANGE FRUIT REDUX exploded onto the off-off Broadway landscape making its world premiere at Manhattan Repertory Theatre‘s 10th Anniversary Event.  It returned to NYC in November 2015 participating in the Midtown International Theatre Festival.  Our founder Afrika Brown has declared that 2016 is the year of Strange Fruit!

In February STRANGE FRUIT REDUX traveled to Winston-Salem, NC and participated in The Ruby Slipper Fringe Festival.  On the 29th STRANGE FRUIT REDUX returns to NYC for a special performance at the 14th Annual Downtown Urban Arts Festival.  That’s right FAMERS; STRANGE FRUIT REDUX is back in town for one night only at HERE Arts Center!

DUAFHERE Arts Center is located at 145 Avenue of the Americas; show time is at 7 p.m. Written by Afrika Brown and starring Bryant L. Lewis, STRANGE FRUIT REDUX centers on a pivotal day in the life of Nathan Strange, a 25-year-old artist from Brooklyn, as he is poised to ascend to the top of the NYC art scene; it’s a series of poem monologues mixed with music and sio-political, pop culture sound bites geared to show the fears and frustrations of the modern day black man.  Tickets for the 29th are still available and can be purchased at http://www.dutfnyc.com/.

See you at the show; you know F.A.M.E NYC will be there!

 

 

 

top-3-large

The Cripple of Inishmaan Is Straight-Up Funny

What do you think would be funny about a cripple orphan, a remote town in Ireland and a Hollywood documentary?  If you’re thinking how I was thinking, then you’re answer is probably not very much.  But like me you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that my first thought was totally off the mark.   Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan is a total laugh riot.

top-7-largeMcDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan is a dark, delightful comedy, think of Peyton Place with razor blade roads.  This play is as twisted as Forrest Gump’s back before the braces.  Set in the small community of Inis Meáin off the western coast of Ireland circa 1934, McDonagh uses the real life filming of the documentary Man of Aran as the foundation of the play.   A Hollywood film crew arrives in the neighboring town of Inis Mór to make a film about life on the islands.   The news, carried by town gossip Johnnypateenmike, sets the town ablaze and gives Billy Claven or “Cripple Billy” as he is called by the townsfolk, the idea to finally escape the place that treats him like a poor orphaned outcast.  Billy finds out that local bully Helen McCormick has finagled Babbybobby Bennett, a boatman, to sail her and her henpecked brother Bartley over to Inis Mór for an audition. Billy conjures a heartbreaking tale to secure a seat on the voyage and winds up getting the opportunity to take part in a film in California.  Billy’s sudden departure puts his adopted aunts Kate and Eileen Osbourne into a tailspin.  Kate begins talking to a stone and Eileen devours all the sweets in their shop to try to avoid worrying about the fate of Billy.  But you know what they say about the grass being greener, missing home Cripple Billy returns to face the place he tried run from, the hurt that was left in his wake and the secrets that have haunted him no matter where he traveled.

top-4-largeThe Cripple of Inishmaan first opened December 12, 1996 at London’s Royal National Theatre.  In 1998 the play opened in NYC and L.A.  The play returned to London’s West End in 2013 with Michael Grandage at the helm directing and Daniel Radcliffe as Cripple Billy.  The production was a hit and fresh off the heels of its sold-out run across the pond, The Cripple of Inishmaan opened at the Cort Theatre on April 20 for a limited 14-week engagement.  And this is one engagement that is not to be missed.  This play is may be about a cripple, but there is nothing deficient about this production.  Daniel Radcliffe truly shines in this revival.  The more he sheds his Harry Potter skin the more we are able to witness how his talent has matured.  He is a wonder to watch live, whether he is singing and dancing or using a crutch, Mr. Radcliffe is rad!  In fact, the whole cast is exceptional.   An awesome ensemble, they authentically project the intimate bonds that are created in a small town.  Sarah Greene is a terror as Helen McCormick, but as frightening as she is, she is equally as charming.  Pádraic Delany radiates brooding appeal as Babbybobby.  Ingrid Craigie and Gillian Hanna are equally delightful as Cripple Bobby’s smothering adopted aunts. The zingers delivered by June Watson and Pat Shortt, who play Johnnypateenmike and his alcoholic mom, are absolutely scandalous and some of the best shade (insult throwing for those of you who don’t know) that I’ve heard on stage in a long time.  The scene and costume designs created by Christopher Oram transported the audience to that 1930’s Ireland and aided in projecting a close-knit community aesthetic.

top-1-largeIrreverent in all the right ways, The Cripple of Inishmaan is a winner and with the support of a great cast, this production stands with the best that Broadway has to offer this season.

Photos: Johan Persson

5.198894

Bullets Over Broadway Is A Shot To the Funny Bone

Woody Allen has been known to make a good film…or two…or three.  In fact, Cate Blanchet just snagged herself an Oscar playing the tragic protagonist in a Woody Allen film.  In 1994, Allen and Douglas McGrath penned a crime-comedy film titled Bullets Over Broadway.  The film starred John Cusack, Dianne Wiest, Chazz Palminteri and Jennifer Tilly with Allen sitting in the director’s chair.  Bullets Over Broadway garnered seven Academy Awards; Wiest won for Best Supporting Actress, the second Academy Award win for her under Allen’s direction.

8.198889If you haven’t seen the film, the gist of the plot goes like this…set in the roaring twenties, a young, struggling playwright named David Shayne gets the break of a lifetime. His play will be produced on Broadway and he will direct it ensuring his vision will come to fruition.  Only problem is producer Julian Marx receives the funds to front the production from gangster Nick Valenti, and to get the money Valenti’s girlfriend, Olive Neal, must be cast in one of the roles.  Olive is no more than a second rate line dancer, but David casts her in the role of the psychiatrist in order secure the funds.  Also, he convinces Helen Sinclair, a legendary stage actress and lush, to play lead role and gets compulsive eater Warner Purcell to be the leading man.  Soon David realizes that getting a play on stage as its director isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.  He also learns that he isn’t the great artist he thought he was as all his re-writes, which the cast adore, are written by Cheech, Olive’s bodyguard and Valenti’s hitman.

5.198890In 2012, plans for a musical adaptation were announced.  Allen adapted the film into a book and used songs from the American songbook for the musical numbers.  Susan Stroman was brought on as the director and choreographer.  The cast included Zach Braff as David Shayne, Marin Mazzie as Helen Sinclair, Vincent Pastore as Nick Valenti, Helen Yorke as Olive Neal and Nick Cordero as Cheech.

5.198888The minute the curtain rose at the St. James Theater and I saw the title being shot into the set I thought, “Well this is starting off with a bang, I hope it ends with one.”  What I would come to learn is that Bullets Over Broadway doesn’t overshoot in the laughs department.  It’s a cute comedy that lends itself to a family night at the theater.  The biggest laughs and smiles were delivered by Nick Cordero, Helen Yorke, Brooks Ahsmanskas, who played Warner Purnell and Mr. Woofles, the sweetest little pooch since Toto.  Marin Mazzie offered a good rendition of Helen Sinclair.  I’m sure any members of the audience who had seen the film were just anticipating her saying, “Don’t speak.”  That classic line didn’t fall into the silence of the air. Like the film, it was a hilarious bull’s-eye.

4.198885My complaint with most new musicals as of late is that they are all song and lack dance.  With Bullets Over Broadway, my gripe was the opposite.  Although the songs used in this musical were standards, the use of tunes were flat and was absent of the pop I like to hear, but the choreography, under the leadership of Susan Stroman, assisted in placing the musical numbers on an even-keel.

It seems as if Woody Allen has struck again.  If you want to a good giggle and some good hoofing then Bullets Over Broadway is musical for you.

Photos: Paul Kolnik

UMS_702x315

Under My Skin Is On Stage at The Little Shubert Theatre

They say, and John Gray Ph.D. wrote, men are from Mars and women are from Venus.  But how do we know that for sure unless we are willing to take a visit to each other’s planet, or to borrow another famous idiom, “walk a mile in someone shoes” or stilettos.

Husband and wife writing team Robert Sternin and Prudence Fraser add another chapter to this ongoing debate with Under My Skin.  Sternin and Fraser are no strangers to the subject of the male/female relationship conundrum with shows like “Three’s Company” and “Who’s The Boss?” under their belts; Under My Skin takes that enigma and turns it into an out-of-body experience.

The prescription for this new comedy involves a CEO of America’s leading healthcare provider, a single mom from Staten Island and one big outrageous twist of fate.  Under My Skin is directed by Kristen Sanderson and stars Kerry Butler and Matt Walton.  Under My Skin began previews at The Little Shubert Theatre, located at 422 West 42nd Street, on April 5 and is scheduled to open on May 15. FAMERS be on the lookout for a ticket giveaway coming soon!

To learn more about the play click, www.undermyskintheplay.com.  Or click below to meet the cast!

 

Photo and video courtesy of Serino Coyne

COI Artwork1

F.A.M.E NYC’s St. Paddy’s Day Ticket Giveaway

Spring is near and if you weren’t already itching to get out of the house, let F.A.M.E NYC give you another reason.  Daniel Radcliffe is best known for conjuring magic on the big screen, but he has also been known to create some special moments on stage as well.  This spring Radcliffe is coming back to Broadway in THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMANAnd we want to give someone a pair of tickets to see Radcliffe in action.  All you have to do is riddle us this?

What school did Harry Potter attend?

Leave your answer in the Comment Box below for a chance to win.  

We will choose the winner on St. Patrick’s Day at 5 p.m.  May the luck of the Irish be with you!

0306_romeojuliet-c-carol-rosseg

Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad Head to the Big Screen as Romeo and Juliet

Last fall Orlando Bloom made his Broadway debut playing opposite two-time Tony Award nominee Condola Rashad in “Romeo and Juliet”.  This month the production made its debut in movie theaters nationwide as part of Broadway HD.  Broadway HD combines the experience of The Great White Way with Hollywood, taking a live production and showing it in a different medium.

Filmed at the end of its Broadway run, “Romeo and Juliet” is playing a limited engagement in theaters, which ends on February 19.  Seeing this production when it first premiered at the Richard Rogers Theater, I felt the show was a bit comme ci comme ça, but after seeing this production in the theaters, I felt that it had come full circle.  Both Bloom and Rashad seemed more comfortable with the language.  The production in its entirety, which seemed to not be fully complete when I saw it, exhibited a richness that wasn’t present when I saw it last year.

Another aspect of this film version was the distinct difference of viewing “Romeo and Juliet” on stage as opposed to seeing it on the screen.  On Broadway the audience is part of the experience; the actors are performing for you.  Watching it on screen I got the sensation of a voyeur – a gate crasher sneaking through the side door who quietly watches the show unfold.  The excitement wasn’t as palpable; however it was still there.

If you ask me Broadway HD is a brilliant concept.  Not everyone has the luxury of living in New York City and those that do don’t always have the opportunity to see productions while they’re making their run.  Broadway HD allows Broadway to be accessible to everyone no matter if you are in Atlanta, Denver or Brooklyn.  I’m looking forward to watching future productions courtesy of this innovative series.

Photo: Carol Rosegg