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Starring in HURT VILLAGE at The Signature Theater PDF Print E-mail
Hurt Village World Premiere Will Star Tonya Pinkins, Saycon Sengbloh, Amari Cheatom and More

By Kenneth Jones 07 Dec 2011

Tonya Pinkins

Tony Award winner Tonya Pinkins, Ron Cephas Jones, Saycon Sengbloh and more will appear in the coming world-premiere production of Katori Hall's Hurt Village. Off-Broadway's Signature Theatre Company announced initial casting on Dec. 7.

Patricia McGregor will direct the gritty drama about life and change in a Memphis housing project, by the author of Broadway's The Mountaintop.

Hurt Village — running Feb. 7-March 18, 2012, with a Feb. 27 opening — will be the inaugural production in The Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre at the not-for-profit Signature's new home in Signature Center at 480 W. 42nd Street between Dyer and 10th Avenues.

The initial cast list for Hurt Village includes Marsha Stephanie Blake (The Merchant of Venice; Joe Turner's Come and Gone), Amari Cheatom (Zooman and the Sign), Nicholas Christopher (Rent, In the Heights), Corey Hawkins (Suicide, Incorporated), Ron Cephas Jones (Gem of the Ocean, The Bridge Project), Joaquina Kalukango (Godspell), Tonya Pinkins (Caroline, or Change; "All My Children") and Saycon Sengbloh (Fela!, Hair). Additional casting will be announced at a later date.

Here's how Signature bills Hurt Village, which has received a 2011 Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award from TCG: "It's the end of a long summer in Hurt Village, a housing project in Memphis, Tennessee. A government Hope Grant means relocation for many of the project's residents, including Cookie, a 13-year-old aspiring rapper, along with her mother Crank and great-grandmother Big Mama. As the family prepares to move, Cookie's father Buggy unexpectedly returns from a tour of duty in Iraq. Ravaged by the war, Buggy struggles to find a position in his disintegrating community, along with a place in his daughter's wounded heart."

The gritty work earned Hall the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, given annually to an outstanding female playwright.

Single tickets are now on sale for Hurt Village and Athol Fugard's Blood Knot, which runs Jan. 31-March 11, 2012, as the inaugural production in The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre.

The design team of Hurt Village includes David Gallo (set and projection design), Clint Ramos (costume design), Sarah Sidman (lighting design), Rob Kaplowitz (sound design), Cookie Jordan (hair and make-up design), Kate Wilson (dialect coach), Rick Sordelet (fight direction) and Luqman Brown (additional music). Casting is by Telsey + Company. The production stage manager is Jane Pole; assistant stage manager is Megan J. Alvord.

All regularly priced single tickets ($75) for the initial run of both shows will be made available for $25 through The Signature Ticket Initiative: A Decade of Access. Tickets and season subscriptions can be purchased by calling the box office at (212) 244-7529 or online at www.signaturetheatre.org.

 
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With book and lyrics by the Tony and Pulitzer-winning Kushner (Angels in America, Homebody Kabul) and music by Tony Award winner Tesori (Thoroughly Modern Millie), Caroline, or Change is set in Louisiana 1963 and follows the friendship between a black maid and the Jewish son of her employers.
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20 Questions With... Tonya Pinkins
American actress Tonya Pinkins - who has been nominated for a Whatsonstage.com Award for her title performance in Caroline, or Change - explains why the Tony Kushner musical has become a family affair & notes how small changes affect the world.

Award-winning American actress Tonya Pinkins grew up in Chicago and studied musical theatre before moving to New York when she landed a role in Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along, aged just 19.

She received the Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Derwent Awards for Jelly’s Last Jam, and also appeared in The Wild Party, Play On, and Chronicle of a Death Foretold on Broadway, as well as Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori’s 2004 Broadway musical Caroline, or Change, for which she received the Obie, Lortel and LA Drama Critics Awards and was nominated for a Tony Award.
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