FULL CASTING ANNOUNCED FOR NEW YORK CLASSICAL THEATRE’S STAGED READING OF ‘LEONORA’

New York- May 24, 2019 – Full casting has been announced for the staged reading of David Stallings’ new drama Leonora, which will be performed at The Williams CME Institutional Church in Harlem on Monday June 3 at 7pm.

The reading is presented by New York Classical Theatre in association with Voza Rovers/New Heritage Theatre Group and David Heron’s Sure Thing Productions, as part of New York Classical’s ‘Diversifying the Classics’ series.

Leonora is inspired by Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House and is based on a concept by Antonio Miniño, who also directs the reading.

The play is set in pre-independent Jamaica in late 1951, where Leonora Hartell--a Jamaican woman of color married to a white British banker--watches  her world unravel when former acquaintances re-enter her life, threatening to expose secrets from her past.

According to New York Classical Artistic Director Stephen Burdman, “The cast assembled for Leonora is an accomplished ensemble of actors whose resumes span the worlds of Broadway, Off Broadway, film and television. We are extremely pleased and very excited to have them onboard, to bring to life this incredible script by David Stallings.”

Nehassaiu deGannes will appear as Leonora Hartell. deGannes was most recently seen at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Romeo and Juliet and Our Town. She has also appeared Off Broadway in Is God Is (Soho Rep) and The Balcony

(Red Bull) as well as regionally in Intimate Apparel (Shakespeare and Company) and Sweat (Cleveland Playhouse).

Brad Fraizer will portray Tristan Hartell, husband to Leonora. Fraizer has appeared Off Broadway in New York Classical’s The Winter’s Tale and in Three on A Couch (Soho Playhouse) as well as in the Kennedy Center national tour of Alice. His television credits include Marvel’s Luke Cage, Quantico, and Shades of Blue.

David Heron will play Dr Mike Newell, close friend to the Hartells. Heron’s Off Broadway credits include The Winter’s Tale (New York Classical), The Emperor Jones (Irish Rep) and his own play Love and Marriage and New York City (Billie Holiday Theatre). He has been seen regionally in Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare Festival St Louis) and Marley-The Musical (Baltimore Centerstage).

Oneika Philips appears as Kalisa Williams, childhood friend to Leonora. Philips was last seen on Broadway in SpongeBob SquarePants-The Musical. Her additional Broadway credits include Amazing Grace and Fela! She has also appeared in national and international tours of Fela!  and West Side Story, and portrayed Anita in West Side Story on London’s West End.

Lisa Tharps is cast as Vinisha, caregiver to the Hartell children. Tharps last appeared onstage in The Royale at Geva Theatre in Rochester New York. She has also appeared in New York Classical’s The Winter’s Tale and on Broadway in King Hedley 11 andRomeo and Juliet. Her other regional credits include A Midsummernight’s Dream (Shakespeare Theatre of DC) and Medea (Boston Court). On television, she has appeared in Marvel’s Jessica Jones, Power and Elementary among others.

James Duke Walker will play Shamar Campbell, banking employee to Tristan Hartell. Walker made his stage acting debut in BRO at Manhattan Rep and has also appeared onstage in Against His Will (The Vibe). His screen credits include the film Roadside Assistanceand the television series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Diabolical.

Aya Spence portrays Emma Hartell, Leonora’s daughter.  A successful child actress and model, she has appeared in the television seriesA Crime To Remember as well as in campaigns for Target, J.Crew and Little Marc Jacobs.

This staged reading production of Leonora is sponsored by New York City Council Member Bill Perkins and the NYC Council Cultural Immigrant Initiative.

The Williams Institutional CME Church is located at 2239 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Boulevard at 132nd Street, New York, NY, 10027.

Admission to the reading is free.

Reservations can be made at nyclassical.org/Leonora.

PHOTO- Actress Nehassaiu deGannes

In celebration of Black Theatre and New Heritage's 55th Anniversary the New York State Assembly recently honored and recognized Voza Rivers and Jamal Joseph on the floor of the Assembly. Oscar nominated IMPACT members performed . 
  
 
Robert Rodriguez, 68th Assembly District, Inez E. District 70th Assembly District, Al Taylor 71st Assembly District, issued the following signed statement:
albany senate assemby honors New Heritage Theatre Group"We have an organization worthy of the esteem of both the community  and the Great State of New York." 
 Later that day Assembly Member Inez Dickens stated:
 

"Special thanks to Voza Rivers and Jamal Joseph on 55 years of excellence and prosperity in the Harlem community through arts & culture for Harlem's youth! I especially want to thank IMPACT children for an amazing performance here in Albany.We wish them all the best!"

 

Republished from Captrust, Tuesday, January 29, 2019

by Sylvana Smith

From Black Panther and convict to writer, poet, producer, college professor, Academy Award nominee, and youth advocate, Jamal Joseph’s life has taken a circuitous path to the present. His is a story of perennial social activism, advancing lessons from his Black Panther days to empower a new generation.

Excuse Me, Young Brother, I Just Did

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