Casting has been announced for the Washington-area premiere of the award-winning new gospel musical comedy Sanctified, playing the historic Lincoln Theatre for a limited engagement, October 21 through November 14.
The cast of Sanctified features John McClure, Jr. as Pastor Harold P. Jones and Mary Millben as Sister Pauletta Denise Jones, with Almonica Caldwell (Clara), Jessica Frances Dukes (Thelma), Elllis Foster (Bobby), Ashley Jeudy (Monique), Joshua Nelson (Mister), William T. Newman, Jr. (Sir), Frederick Strother (Deacon), and Kasaun T. Wilson (Jamal).
Tickets for Sanctified are priced $37.00 to $47.00 (plus applicable service and facility charges). Tickets are available at the Lincoln Theatre Box Office, online at www.Ticketmaster.com, and via phone at (202) 397-SEAT (7328). Discounts are available for groups of 20 or more by calling (202) 635-0785. For more information, call (202) 328-6000 or visit www.letsgetsanctified.com or www.thelincolntheatre.org.
Sanctified, written by Javon Johnson, with original music by Rollo A. Dilworth, and directed by Derrick Sanders, is the winner of six 2009 Black Theater Alliance Awards including the August Wilson Award for Best Writing of a Play (Musical / Adaptation), Best Production (Musical or Revue), Best Direction (Musical or Revue), and Best Musical Director. The musical comedy shines a light on the African-American church and the congregations that sustain it. When the East Piney Grove Baptist Church falls on hard times, their last chance may be the upcoming 3oth annual gospel revival. Desperate, the ambitious new pastor calls on his diva-esque cousin to help update the choir's staid repertoire (and lend her extraordinary voice), but the church elders are not moved.
Playwright Javon Johnson explains: "This is a warm, joyous, hymn-filled show that bears witness to the trials and triumphs of the African-American church. The project set out to explore the traditional world of gospel music and how it has been twisted, turned, and constantly revolutionized by the hip-hop and the R&B sound."
Considered by many to be a protege of the late August Wilson, Johnson has written such plays as Breathe, Recipes for Love, Whatever She Wants, Cheaters, Hambone, and Cryin' Shame, among others. He has also performed on stage, including locally in Joe Turner's Come and Gone at Baltimore's CenterStage, as well as on screen and television (Friends and Lovers, Barbershop 2, Prison Break, and more).
The Lincoln Theatre, built in 1922 and located at 1215 U Street NW, once hosted the likes of Washington natives Duke Ellington and Pearl Bailey, as well as nationally acclaimed artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, Nat King Cole, and Louis Armstrong. The legacy continues as the U Street corridor experiences a renaissance, and the Lincoln Theatre provides a cornerstone for culture and entertainment.
Sanctified is produced by Proteus Spann and Pro2Play Productions. It features musical direction by Raymond D. Reeder, scenic design by Tony Cisek, costume design by Reggie Ray, lighting design by William H. Grant III, and sound design by Elisheba Ittoop.
John McClure, Jr. (Pastor Harold P. Jones) is a worshipper without compromise. John has been singing since the age of three with a ballad style that exudes excellence, sincerity, and most importantly, a heart and love for God. Having ministered in song with such musical greats as Donald Lawrence, Jonathan Nelson, and Karen Clark Sheard, John landed a spot as a top five finalist on BET's Sunday Best Season Two. Now, his acting gift is making room for him. John debuted in Marcia Samuels' play Tell Hell I Ain't Comin' (May, 2010), and now adds the award-winning play Sanctified to his credits (Oct., 2010).
Mary Millben (Sister Pauletta Denise Jones) A former White House intern and White House presidential appointee, Mary has been a featured soloist at the White House, the Kennedy Center, and stages across the globe. In addition, Mary has been a featured soloist for events hosting President George W. Bush, Queen Nor, Mr. Bill Cosby, and Dr. Maya Angelou, to name a few. This past summer, Mary was a cast member in Arena Stage's Sophisticated Ladies. Last year, Mary was a guest soloist for the 2009 Congressional Black Caucus Ceremonial Swearing-In and backup singer for the XLIII Super Bowl halftime show with Bruce Springsteen. Regional credits include: Sophisticated Ladies (Arena Stage), Chasing George Washington (Kennedy Center; Natl. Tour), Crowns (Arena Stage), and Pirates of Penzance (Washington Savoyards). A native Oklahoman, Mary received her training at the University of Oklahoma (BFA and minor in political science).
Almonica Caldwell (Clara) traveled with the St. Peter's Concert Choir as lead singer for ten years, under the direction of professor Jack Nelson. She also toured with the hit play A Good Man Is Hard To Find (Hazel), written by Davie Payton, and with It's A Family Affair (Mrs. Emma), written and composed by Eric Brison. Almonica most recently appeared in The Gospel According to Fishman, directed by Eric Schaeffer.
Jessica Frances Dukes (Thelma) is so happy to be joining the Sanctified family on the Lincoln Theatre stage! Regional Credits: Woolly Mammoth Theatre (In The Next Room, or The Vibrator Play, Full Circle, Eclipsed, Fever Dream, Antebellum, and Starving); Studio Theatre (Passing Strange, Caroline, or Change); Round House Theatre (Permanent Collection); Ford's Theater in association with African Continuum Theater (Jitney); Indiana Rep Theater (The Piano Lesson); Geva Theater, NY (The Piano Lesson); Theatre J (In Darfur); The Kennedy Center (Unleashed: The Secret Lives of White House Pets, Izzy Iccarus Fell off the World); Tribute Productions in association with African Continuum Theater (Spunk-Helen Hayes nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress); Horizon Theater, GA (The Bluest Eye); Theater Alliance (The Bluest Eye, Insurrection: Holding History); Washington Stage Guild (Fanny's First Play); and African Continuum Theater (The Story). Jessica is a company member at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and earned her M.F.A. from The Catholic University of America. She also teaches Fundamentals of Acting at Montgomery College.
Ellis Foster (Bobby) was last seen in the production of Sanctified (Congo Square) for which he received the Black Theater Alliance Award (Best Actor in a Musical). Mr. Foster has also appeared in regional theater in The Piano Lesson (American Theatre); Good Black (E.T.A. Theatre -Jeff Award, Supporting Actor); Cry the Beloved Country, A Christmas Carol, Let Me Live (Jeff Award, Supporting Actor), Unjustifiable Acts, I Am a Man, and Spunk (Jeff Award, Actor in a Revue), all at Goodman Theatre; and I Am a Man (Arena Stage). His film and television work includes You're Going to Prison, Quake, Bahama Hustle, Hoodlum, Poker House, and Early Edition. Mr. Foster attended Wayne State University.
Ashley Jeudy (Monique) is a native of Fort Salonga, N.Y. She graduated from Kings Park High School in 2007 and enrolled at Howard University as a Musical Theater student; she will be graduating in May. There she established herself as a great student and followed her passion for the arts. During her career as a performer, she has appeared as Aida (Aida); Lorraine (All Shook Up); Magenta (The Rocky Horror Picture Show); Sour Kangaroo (Seussical); April (Company); and, most recently, Joanne in Rent, as well as many more. With God's good graces, she will be appearing in much more to come. She would like to thank her parents for their never ending support, her family, friends, and sisters of D.I.V.A. Inc.