Crowns is back in town, and with direction and choreography by Kenneth Lee Roberson (Broadway's Avenue Q, Arena's Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill) and musical direction by Grammy nominee e'Marcus Harper, this soulful musical will be bigger than ever in the Lincoln Theatre. Arena favorites Marva Hicks (The Women of Brewster Place) and E. Faye Butler (Dinah Was, Ain't Misbehavin') are joined by NaTasha Yvette Williams (Broadway's The Color Purple), Mary Millben, Kara Tameika Watkins, Phillip Boykin and Zurin VillanuevA. Howard University student Villanueva was discovered in Arena's January "Finding Yolanda" one-day casting search, and this production marks her debut professional performance.
Crowns runs March 27-April 26, 2009 at Arena Stage at the Lincoln Theatre. The press opening performance is Thursday, April 2, 2009 at 8:00 p.m.
"Crowns is a pageant, in the great African-American tradition of pageants," remarks Roberson. "This show teaches audiences about the values, style and grace of the African-American church community. Crowns demonstrates the handing down of culture from one generation to the next and celebrates the refuge, equality and healing that occurs in this place of spirituality."
"The beauty of Crowns is in the stories and the relationship between the women," notes Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith. "It's a show about community, and it beautifully articulates the ties that bind us all. We are particularly excited to stage this show at the Lincoln Theatre, the historical home of so many great African-American performers like Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday."
Written by ReGina Taylor and adapted from the acclaimed book by photographer Michael Cunningham and journalist Craig Marberry, Crowns takes an intimate look at six women whose storied lives are woven into the hats that adorn their heads. This gospel-infused musical presents an oral history of the African-American women affectionately known as "hat queens," as seen through the eyes of Yolanda, a Brooklyn teenager sent to live with her South Carolinian grandmother. Crowns features soulful, joyful music that celebrates family and faith.
This season's production marks the fourth staging of Crowns at Arena. The musical made its Arena debut during the 2003/04 season-winning four Helen Hayes Awards, including Best Resident Musical-and returned for a limited engagement that summer. Due to popular demand, Arena produced Crowns again in the summer of 2005.
Tickets for Crowns start at $25, plus applicable fees; for full ticketing information, please see below.
Get Your Hat On! Hats will be available for purchase from returning vendors Theresa Banks' Designs by Theresa and Bernice Vaughan's Hat Lady (www.hatladybv.com) in the lobby of the Lincoln before and after performances throughout the run of Crowns.
Crowning Glory Contest: Patrons have the chance to break out their "hattitude" and show off their lavish and unforgettable hats. To enter, patrons should send a picture of themselves in their most extravagant hats to email@example.com. An Arena staff member will then post all submitted pictures to the website. Deadline for entry is March 25. The grand prize winner, chosen by a panel of Arena jurors, will receive four orchestra level tickets to the opening night performance of Crowns on Thursday, April 2 at 8:00 p.m. and one Crowns poster signed by the cast. Two runners up will each receive one Crowns poster signed by the cast. Winners will be announced on the Arena website March 27.