POSTED ON JANUARY 26, 2011:
A young company from Philly uses the stage to spotlight black culture and community
In honor of Black History Month right around the corner, the Tulsa PAC Trust is presenting Black Journey, a musical celebrating black music and heritage.
The musical is performed by American Theatre Arts for Youth (ATAFY), a Philadelphia-based company that travels to 228 cities around the country and performs in front of one million students each year. The group's mission is to "capture the spirit of timeless classics, to bring literature and history to life, and to provide the magic found only in the live theater experience."
Laurie Wagman, the show's producer and founder of ATAFY, said the company works hard to provide enlightening material for each show.
"Our performances are always accompanied by a study guide that teachers and parents can use for after-the-show discussion," she said.
The musical opens with African chants, and evolves to gospel music, blues, ragtime, jazz, rock 'n' roll and rap. Each bit of music is accompanied by the appropriate costumes and scenery of that era. The show takes audiences through significant events and periods of black history and culture like the Civil War, the Jim Crow laws, and the civil rights movement.
"I've seen this show a lot of times and there are still parts that choke me up, and parts that make me laugh out loud," Wagman said.
This year, ATAFY will take the talented, experienced and all-Black cast of Black Journey to 38 cities around the country. Many of whom have been in major Broadway productions.
"Black Journey is one of our evergreen productions. We do it every year at this time, because it celebrates African-American heritage in a very special way," Wagman said. "It's connecting the past with today's expectations and tomorrow's goals. It really defines a nation in flux."
The show does not focus only on the black community's political strides, but also its achievements in science and industry, education and literature, performing and visual arts and community service.
"We are lucky to have a very varied cast this year," Wagman said. "One of our performers is also a poet who has published several books, another is a journalist. And each of them are extremely talented performers as well."
Black Journey stages Friday, Jan. 28 at 7pm, in the John H. Williams Theatre of Tulsa Performing Arts Center. For tickets, visit myticketoffice.com. For more information on the show or ATAFY, go to atafy.org.
Also this week
The Loony Bin will feature comedian Gabriel Rutledge, winner of Seattle International Comedy Competition and Comedy Central veteran, Thursday, Jan. 27 at 8pm and Friday-Saturday, Jan. 28-29 at 8pm and 10:30pm. Rutledge is known for his self-deprecating style and jokes about his marriage. Tickets are $6-$10. For mature audiences only.
Tulsa Children's Museum will perform Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, a children's show that combines hip-hop, funk, reggae, and other fun rhythms with robots, dragons and mermaids. It takes the stage Saturday, Jan. 29 at 1pm and 3pm in the John H. Williams Theatre of Tulsa Performing Arts Center.
Nightingale Theater presents Black Bog Beast Bait, a drama about ignorance and superstition, Feb. 3-6; 10-12 at 8pm, 1416 E. 4th St. For tickets and info, visit nightingaletheater.com or call 918-633-8666.
Spotlight Theatre presents Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs of the Black Forest, a children's production of the beloved family story. Catch a show Feb. 4-6; 11-13 at the Spotlight Theatre, 1381 Riverside Dr.
American Theatre Company will perform Souvenir, a musical comedy about a wealthy socialite who can't sing, Feb. 4-12 at Tulsa Ballet Studio K, 1212 E. 45th Pl. For more information, visit americantheatrecompany.org or call 918-749-6006.
Tulsa Ballet presents Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare's comedy about love and arrogance, Feb. 4-5 at 8pm and Feb. 6 at 3pm in the Chapman Music Hall of Tulsa Performing Arts Center. This Oklahoma premiere features choreography by John Cranko and a score by Kurt--Heinz Stolze.
Playhouse Theatre Tulsa will perform Love Song, an offbeat romantic comedy about a down-in-the-dumps guy finding someone special, Feb. 10-12 at 7:30pm and Feb. 13 at 2pm in the Liddy Doenges Theatre of Tulsa Performing Arts Center.
Heller Theatre presents its annual Laughing Matter Valentine's Day Benefit, a comedy show that includes chocolate samplings, Feb. 14 at 7:30pm. Admission is $10 and benefits the Heller Theatre Volunteer Council.
Odeum Theatre Company presents Reasons to Be Pretty, a play about physical appearance, and the danger of commenting on one another's flaws, Feb. 15 - 17, 24 - 26 at 8pm, and Feb. 18, 27 at 2pm at Tulsa Performing Arts Center. This show is directed by Will Carpenter and will feature actors Whitson Hanna, David A. Lawrence, Leslie Long and Erin Scarberry. Tickets are available online at myticketoffice.com.
Clark Youth Theatre will perform Peter Pan, Feb. 25-26, Mar. 4-5 at 7:30m, Feb. 27 & Mar. 6 at 2pm, at the Henthorne Performing Arts Center, 4825 South Quaker Avenue in Henthorne Park.
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