Black Pearl Sings!

November 22 - December 17, 2017
(Opening Night: November 29, 2017) 

In the Lyceum Space

By Frank Higgins
Directed by Thomas W. Jones II
Musical Direction by S. Renee Clark
Scenic Design by Sean Fanning

Lighting Design by Sherrice Mojgani
Costume Design by Mary Larson
Sound Design by Matthew Lescault-Wood
Projections Design by Victoria Petrovich
Dramaturgy by
 Shelley Orr
Assistant Direction by Nicole McEntee
Stage Management by Chandra R.M. Anthenill


Cast:

Minka Wiltz as “Albert 'Pearl' Johnson”
Allison Spratt Pearce as “Susannah”

Alberta “Pearl” Johnson has inherited from her African and American ancestors a soulful collection of rare folk songs. Stuck behind bars in a Texas prison for murder, her music is her lifeline to her family and future. Enter Susannah, an ambitious collector of songs for the Library of Congress. To advance her career, Susannah wants to record Pearl singing her extraordinary repertoire. Pearl sees Susannah as a possible escort to freedom. Their story is one of two women tied deeply together by their personal search for respect and love. Featuring over 20 distinctive songs, Black Pearl Sings! is a transcendent tale about the bridges that can be built through the power of song.

                                                                   


Press Photos

 


Bios

Frank Higgins (Playwright) is the author of the plays “Black Pearl Sings!” and “The Sweet By ‘n’ By,” the latter produced with Blythe Danner and Gwyneth Paltrow. His play “The Taste Test” opened the 2015/2016 season for Black Theatre Troupe in Phoenix. His work has been seen in New York and across the country at the Williamstown Theater Festival, the Old Globe Theatre, Ford’s Theater in Washington DC, Northlight Theatre in Chicago, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Kansas City Repertory Theater, Virginia Stage Company, the Barter Theater and other places. His plays have been published by Dramatists Play Service, Samuel French, Dramatic Publishing Company and Pioneer Drama Service. His one act play “The True Death of Socrates” is included in Best American Short Plays of 2013, published by Applause Books, and “Black Pearl Sings!” is anthologized in the Random House/Vintage anthology “Plays For Two.” Scenes from his play “Gunplay” were read on Capitol Hill prior to Congress passing what came to be known as the Brady Bill. He has also written several plays for young audiences, including “Anansi the Spider” and “The Middle Passage” and “The Country of the Blind.” He has also published two books of poetry, and two books of haiku.

Thomas W. Jones II (Director) is a director and playwright based out of Virginia. He is an Artistic Associate at MetroStage where many of his original musicals have premiered. Since 2001, he has written and directed “Harlem Rose,” “Three Sistahs,” “Two Queens One Castle,” “Bricktop,” “Cool Papa's Party,” “Pearl Bailey...by request,” “Ladies Swing the Blues,” “Bessie's Blues,” “Shake Loose,” “Blackberry Daze” and, most recently, “The Gin Game.” He received a Helen Hayes nomination for Outstanding Direction for MetroStage's production of “Gee's Bend.” He has directed, written and performed in more than 200 plays worldwide. In 1978, Tom founded Jomandi Productions, where, as Co-Artistic Director and Producing Director, he led Jomandi to become the third largest African-American theatre company in the United States. His work as writer, director and actor has been acclaimed nationally and internationally, receiving 42 Helen Hayes Award nominations and winning 12, including Best Director for Samm Art Williams' “Home” and his own “Bessie's Blues” (1991 production). He has also received 3 New York Audelco Award nominations, the Dramalogue Award, the San Diego Critics Award, NAACP Phoenix Award, among others. He directed Janet Langhart Cohen's “Anne & Emmett” in 2015 at MetroStage followed by a tri-city tour. His production company has launched the New Renaissance Project producing, among others, a national tour of “Cool Papa's Party” and “A Night in the Musical Life of Frankie Lyman.”

Minka Wiltz ("Alberta 'Pearl' Johnson") has been acting for 14 years and singing for 32 years. After graduating from The Westminster Schools in Atlanta, Minka went on to pursue a professional career in the theater which brought her success on the stages of Atlanta. Regional: The Alliance Theater, The Horizon Theater, The Actors Express, Synchronicity Performance Group, The Atlanta Opera. Nominations: five Suzi Bass Awards (2 Lead Actress, 1 Featured Actress, and 2 Best Ensemble). Writing/Producing: Breathing Fire Moving Earth (BFME), Shaking The Wind (STW) at Emory University’s Theatre Emory in 2015 and 2016. In Pre-production: The Funeral Singer. Art happens!



Allison Spratt Pearce ("Susannah"): Last seen at San Diego REP as Emily in Disgraced. Broadway & Off Bway credits: Curtains, Good Vibrations, Cry Baby, Enter Laughing, and Cabaret (National Tour). Highlight San Diego roles: Cygnet: Louise in Gypsy -2017 Craig Noel Award Winner, Eliza in My Fair Lady. SDMT: Maria in The Sound of Music, Judy in 9 to 5,  The Old Globe: Phoebe in As You Like It, Viola in Twelfth Night, Jane in Emma; La Jolla Playhouse: Janice in Come From Away, Victoria in Sideways. Many national/regional commercials and ads. M.F.A in Drama-USD/Old Globe, B.F.A. in MT- Elon University. Next Allison will be starring in The Last Wife at Cygnet and The Lonliest Girl in the World at Diversionary. Thanks to all at the Rep., Kim and Thomas for this opportunity to live in such a powerful piece as Black Pearl Sings! www.allisonsprattpearce.com

 

 
 
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