Six Degrees of Separation – The Quintessential NYC Play Returns to Broadway

Once upon a time in there was an island, surrounded by the Hudson and Harlem Rivers.  It was a place where the underworld, “Regular Joes” and elite flowed past each other creating a unique aura that produced the energy for a city that never slept.  Those seeking fame and fortune came to the island to stake their claim and be seen.  Manhattan was a melting pot brimming to the top with a million and one stories that now haunt the streets like ghosts over resurrected apartment complexes and 21st-century skyscrapers.

Six Degrees of Separation
243 W. 47TH ST.One such story about that emerged out of this glorious period was the story of David Hampton.  A handsome grifter from Buffalo N.Y., Hampton used his good looks, manners and ability to manipulate others to intersect with the upper-crust of New York City society and glitterati.  By pretending to be the son of Sidney Poitier, Hampton dined for free at the best restaurants, received A-list treatment at New York City hot spots and flimflammed his way into the homes of the Upper East Side.

4922Playwright John Guare became aware of Hampton’s infamous con when married friends of his became one of Hampton’s many marks.  Their intersection became the foundation for his play Six Degrees of Separation.    Six Degrees of Separation made its Broadway debut in 1990 at the Vivian Beaumont Theater and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and a Tony.   It was adapted into a movie in a film in 1993.  Now it’s back on Broadway for a limited 15-week engagement.

Six Degrees of Separation
243 W. 47TH ST.On the surface, Six Degrees of Separation explores the theory that everyone is connected by six other people.   The play primarily takes place at the apartment of Flan and Louisa “Ouisa” Kittredge, which overlooks Central Park.    Flan is an art dealer and one evening when he and his wife are entertaining (and ass-kissing) a super-rich friend, Paul, a young, charming black man, appears on their doorstep wounded and bleeding.  He claims he had been robbed and stabbed.  He claims he knew their children.  He says he is the son of Sidney Poitier.

Six Degrees of Separation
243 W. 47TH ST.Paul cooks them dinner and beguiles them, especially Ouisa who had been seeking a deeper connection with her own children.   Paul tells the Kittredge’s that he is expected to check into a hotel with his famous father in the morning.  Flan and Ouisa insist that Paul spends the night with them.  In the morning, Ouisa goes to wake Paul and finds him mid-coitus with a hustler he picked up after they had gone to bed.  After that encounter, Ouisa and Flan’s lives continue to intersect with Paul.  Finally, after one scam too many, the police get involved.  Sensing the police are closing in, Paul makes a final, desperate call to Ouisa to beg her to accompany him when he turns himself in.  She agrees to take him, but the police pounce before she can get there. Ouisa is left to ponder the future of Paul, the experience as a whole and her future after this experience.

Six Degrees of Separation
243 W. 47TH ST.If one is only looking at the surface, it would appear that Six Degrees of Separation looks at how lives collide into each other and impact those collisions make, but the play takes us deep into the rabbit hole providing critiques on myriad topics.  Six Degrees of Separation tackles issues of race, class and homosexuality.  The beauty of Guare’s storytelling is the method in which these topics are brought to the forefront.  The dialogue is luscious, full of wry wit and flows with a hustle and bustle of New Yorkers beating their feet to the pavement during rush hour.  Guare doesn’t bop you over the head or smack you in the face with social commentary, instead, he guides you to a mirror, and when you are laughing at some snarky line, you suddenly realized you are looking at yourself and how you have perceived others.  New Yorkers are so quick to believe the hype of the liberalism simply because there are no monuments erected to Confederate generals in the middle of Times Square; however, when faced with our own Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner scenario, we suddenly realize we aren’t as free-thinking as we thought we were.  Through Flan, Ouisa and Paul, the audience is able to confront their own prejudices, fears and desires to belong.

Six Degrees of Separation
243 W. 47TH ST.The selection of the cast is a stroke of genius.  Allison Janney is hysterical as Ouisa; her comedic timing is impeccable.  When Ouisa is most introspective, Janney breathes tenderness into these moments.  Her performance reveals just how much Paul has changed the trajectory of Ouisa’s life.  John Benjamin Hickey provides a multi-faceted performance of Flan.  He is pretentious, yet sensitive.  He has the soul of a tortured artist, but reeks of capitalist greed.  He is a hypocrite, yet still totally likable.  The crown jewel in this cast is Corey Hawkins, who plays Paul.  From the moment he rushes onto the stage in a state of panic, he captivates the audience.  Without knowing, Hawkins wraps you around his finger and compels you to believe even the most fantastic lie. Every face Hawkins presents as Paul is equally as believable as the next.  When he says to Ouisa,” I like being looked at,” I thought to myself who would want to look away?  Hawkins goes deeper than just bringing the character of Paul to life for a new generation of theatergoers.   He honors the soul of the man whose infamous life was the catalyst for this splendid play.  He is a writer’s dream, a master actor in the making.

Six Degrees of Separation
243 W. 47TH ST.Six Degrees of Separation is a masterpiece.  The only problem with this production is the fact that it’ll only be at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre until July 16.  This play is too brilliant to run the risk of not being seen by every New Yorker and those who come to visit this metropolis.  The themes of this play are as relevant now as they were in 1990 because they are intrinsic components in the state of the human condition.  More importantly, this play is a time capsule of an era in New York City that will never come around again.  Only in Manhattan could a con artist pretend to be the child of an icon and hobnob with the crème de la crème of New York society.  Six Degrees of Separation is vivid, sexy and seedy; just like Paul.   It’s one Broadway experience that shouldn’t be missed.

Photos: Joan Marcus





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.


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

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

Meet The Cast of Slow Bullet, My Three Loves

Slow Bullet, My Three Loves tells the story of Rhea Davies, a thirty-something makeup artist.  While preparing to make her final transition, Rhea Davies is confronted by the men whom she loved the most and the relationships that shaped her world’s view.   In the middle of her breakdown she experiences a breakthrough.   Next month Slow Bullet, My Three Loves will make its world premiere at Manhattan Repertory Theatre’s Premiere Play Series May 18, 20 and 21.  So without further ado, F.A.M.E NYC would like to introduce you to the cast of Slow Bullet, My Three Loves.



Mahogany Reynolds is an award winning, beyond a triple-threat actress, from Detroit, Michigan. She performs a wide range of roles in film, TV and theatre that showcases her versatility. Mahogany graduated college with a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts, and worked as a journalist, on-camera reporter, and television talk show co-host. Mahogany is often booked as an on-stage host for film festivals. As a philanthropist, she is the Founder/Executive Director of Just Be You Performing Arts; a mentoring and enrichment organization for aspiring young actors. Mahogany is a proud wife and devoted mother.!gallery/c199t.



Arthur started as a voice-over artist that shifted to acting after he landed the role of Delmar Irving in the film “Downshift.” He’s affiliated with Theatre Engagement & Action at Intersections International, whose play “Uniform Justice” performed at the 2015 Fringe Festival in NYC. Other stage credits include: “Fences” (Troy Maxon), “A Soldier’s Story” (Sgt. Waters), “Camp Logan” (Sgt. McKinney), “Amen” (Daniel Quinn), “The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940” (Sgt. Kelly), “I Don’t Know Why He Loves Me” (Rev. Cunningham), and Johnnie Cochran in the comedy “So You Think You’re Godd.”



Actor/ poet Bryant L. Lewis is a native New Yorker born and raised in the Bronx.   He studied theatre at Manhattanville College where he starred as Orlando in “As You Like It” by William Shakespeare and was featured in Haroun and The Sea Of Stories.”   A proud alumnus of The Possibility Project youth theatre program in NYC, Lewis participated for two seasons.  In 2014 Lewis played the DJ in “The Outing” by Afrika Brown as well as his breakout role as the Homeless Guy in  “Heat Of The Moment” by Syvaun Grullon.  Currently Lewis is starring as Nathan Strange in “Strange Fruit Redux” by Afrika Brown , which is touring various festivals nationwide.  Lewis is also the founder/ owner of O-Kaos productions Inc., a video production company that writes, produces and films its own skits and short films.



Lamar Richardson is a recent graduate of Columbia University. He hails from Charlotte, NC and loves to bring joy and laughter to everything he does. He prides himself on being an “actor on a faith journey to spread light and laughter in the industry.” He hopes to become a prominent artist in the New York theater community and strives to pave the way for those who will come after him. Lamar’s most recent credits include ‘Black Footnotes” at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe and the short film, ‘Running from the Dead.” Stay tuned!

Manhattan Repertory Theatre is located at 303 West 42nd Street, in the heart of Times Square.  Tickets are available at


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

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




Flesh and Boner: What the Starz Series “Flesh and Bone” is Really About

By Bethany Leger

I’m a millennial. I wasn’t born in the 50s. I realize that premarital sex, drug use, eating disorders, domestic violence, stripping, incest, and self-injury are common features of modern day society. But just because my generation created a show out of this stuff, doesn’t mean I’m on board. Oh, and did I mention the main thread that supposedly ties the whole plot together is ballet? If you’re looking for a balanced, realistic view of the ballet world, it would be a grave mistake to form your impressions solely through the lens of “Flesh and Bone”. The show isn’t really about ballet, and despite many a hipster’s passionate argument that it’s about art and life; it’s not a “brilliant”/“genius” creative breakthrough either. It’s all about ratings—just a sweaty pot of debauchery and shock value.

flesh-and-bone-dancers-imageFirst, I’m a former ballet dancer. I didn’t dance for “the frickin’ Bolshoi”, but I have a long history with NYC and the dance community spanning from coast to coast, and I taught ballet for seven years. I’ve interviewed famous principal dancers, collaborated with artistic directors, danced beside guest professionals, had my toenails fall off from dancing on pointe, lived in many studios, stages, audiences, and in the wings. I know a thing or two. I’ve even seen a few of the show’s stars, Sascha Radetzky and Irina Dvorevenko, perform live. Second, I’m pushing 30, I’m married, I had a friend die from heroin, I struggled with an eating disorder in high school, I had a friend who stripped in her early twenties, I’m fully aware incest and other sexual abuse exists, and I’ve seen slit wrists up and close. Not only do I have experience in the ballet world, (which most of the trolls on the message boards don’t), I don’t live in La La Land either. Life can be rough. “Flesh and Bone”, however, in its attempt to combine all these taboos with tutus, is just all kindsa’ wrong.

12622_oriIf I’m going to play Devil’s advocate, I can see its appeal from a couple of angles: one, non-dancers are genuinely curious about ballet dancers’ lives because the ballet world is largely mysterious. If it weren’t for YouTube and other social media, the everyday operations of a ballet company would be buried along with Balanchine—exclusive and inaccessible. After all, most people don’t wear leotards to work. They want to know if the urban legends of bleeding toes and sleeping with the director are true. I get that. (For the record, dancers toes do bleed, and the casting couch is not an impossibility.)

c190f8f334c858cd6f2e60f4e9de610fOn the other hand, sex sells. And that’s unfortunately—depending how you feel about it—the problem. Yes, dancers have sex lives and walk around naked in dressing rooms. Nothing inaccurate about that. But when phallic slang, midday romps with boy toys, and pissy naked roommates leave more of an imprint in your brain than the subject itself—ballet—it means the producers are lazy. Seriously, when you spotlight a prima ballerina snorting coke before each class, the masses will automatically be wondering the next time they take their daughter to see the Nutcracker if the Sugar Plum Fairy has a deviated septum. Even if these scenes and story lines reflect some of the realities of the ballet world, the show isn’t an artfully crafted, thoughtful vehicle for educating the outside world about the profession. Rather, it’s one giant, gratuitous cheap shot that plays on the ignorance of the general population. I made it through the first episode only because I had access to a fast-forward button. After half-watching the lead character’s brother tame the dragon to her beloved childhood heirloom, I won’t try to stomach another one.

960I’m over my generation’s fascination with the Natalie Portman-ballerina. The tortured ballerina is so passé. If this makes me anti-progressive or un-hip, so be it. I’ll be joining the old folks down at Lincoln Center for some true artistry.


About the Author

HeadshotBethany Leger taught ballet for 7 years in Dallas, TX. She is the founder of Ballet For Adults, a site dedicated to educating adults about ballet at Ballet For

CUT N’ MIX: Contemporary Collage On Display At El Museo Del Barrio

Cut N’ Mix explores the work of artists experimenting with collage and collage techniques in ways that expand the gestures of cutting paper and mixing various mediums together. It takes as its point of departure some of the concepts from Dick Hebdidge’s series of essays collectively titled Cut N Mix: Culture, Identity and Caribbean Music, published in 1980. In this text, Hebdidge explored the variations of Caribbean reggae and dancehall and other related styles of music as emblematic markers of Caribbean ideas of nationhood, belonging, and the making of culture. The artists included in the exhibition range from established artists who are veterans of collage to new generations of artists experimenting with this malleable medium.

Participating Artists: Elia Alba, Jesse Amado, Blanka Amezkua, Javier Barrera, Maria Berrio, Cecilia Biagini, Michael Paul Britto, José Camacho, Karlos Carcamo, Nat Castañeda, Gaby Collins-Fernandez, Matias Cuevas, Rafael Ferrer, Roger Gaitan, Carolina Gomez, Javier Ramirez/NADIE, Carlos Gutierrez Solana, Hector Madera, Glendalys Medina, Alex Nuñez, Catalina Parra, Carlos Rigau, Hernan Rivera Luque, Linda Vallejo, Rafael Vega and Eduardo Velázquez.

Cut N’ Mix:  Contemporary Collage will be on display from July 22, 2015 – October 17, 2015.  For more information check out

Jazz Standard Beats Out Winter with Kendrick Scott Oracle

With the final days of winter creeping to a close, Jazz Standard ushers in spring with sounds of Kendrick Scott Oracle.  The quintet is comprised of Mike Moreno on guitar, John Ellis on sax,  Matt Penman on bass, Taylor Eigsti on piano and Kendrick Scott on drums.  The two sets featured selections his 2013 CD titled Conviction, released on his World Culture Music label.  The first set was extremely melodic providing soothing, danceable grooves that one might hear at Club Shelter on Sunday in the early afternoon.  The second set was up-tempo, lively and was propelled by Scott’s driving percussion.  Although some of the music performed was composed by other members in Oracle, all of it showcased the superb backbeat of master drummer Kendrick Scott.  Ancients looked to oracles to predict the future, music in so many ways show where we are and where we are heading.  With Kendrick Scott Oracle the prediction is passionate playing equals good music.

Rufus Reid and His Big Band Sounds Swing at Jazz Standard

Quiet Pride: The Elizabeth Catlett Project, released in 2014, is the latest offering by premiere bassist Rufus Reid, but there was nothing quiet about The Big Band Sound of Rufus Reid as they played selections from this Grammy nominated work.  Quiet Pride is an homage to the work of Black graphic artist, sculptor and activist Elizabeth Catlett (1915-2012).  The titles of the six piece suite are all titles of works created by Catlett and Reid’s compositions and arrangements serve to be beautiful accompaniments to what are already visually stunning pieces of art.

At Jazz Standard Rufus Reid’s big band spilled off the stage and into audience. Along with Reid the band included Steve Allee tickling the piano, Vic Juris strumming the guitar, Chris Beck’s pounding the drums, Charenee Wade’ vocal styling and a reed and horn section that included 15 musicians.  Conductor Dennis Mackrel stood in front of the performers to make sure that each of them was on point.  And “on point” would be a feeble colloquialism to describe the robust, wall of sound that echoed from The Big Band Sound of Rufus Reid.

They started their set with Recognition, followed by Mother and Child, Tapestry in the Sky, Singing Head and Glory. The music was so plush, so luxurious in texture, so rapturous in harmony.  Reid’s aural reimagining of Catlett’s work is as soulful and magnificent as the work itself.  I was particularly impressed with Charenee Wade; her haunting voice held its own with band and proved that voice is indeed its own instrument.  Chris Beck hit the drums like he was midway through a possession.  His drum solo was ferocious and had me clapping my hands and stomping my feet.

Artists often inspire other artists.  Quiet Pride is sure to spark many imaginations.  I thought The Big Band Sound of Rufus Reid was a beautiful ending to February and Black History Month at Jazz Standard.  One legend recognizing another with the timeless language of music – doesn’t get any better than that.