Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ebony Repertory Theatre's 'Paul Robeson,' Starring Keith David, Extended Through April 27

LOS ANGELES, CA (April 15, 2014) – Ebony Repertory Theatre (ERT -  Founder/Producer Wren T. Brown) announced today that Phillip Hayes Dean’s (Drama  Desk-winner for The Sty of the Blind Pig) powerful and moving play Paul Robeson has been extended by popular demand for three more performances and will now  play through Sun., April 27, 2014 at 3 p.m. 

The production, directed by Mr.  Dean, stars two-time Emmy Award-winner Keith David (Fox’s new series Enlisted)  with accompaniment by pianist/musical director Byron J. Smith (working with  numerous artists including Wynton Marsalis, Barbra Streisand, BeBe Winans). Paul Robeson plays at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center (4718 West Washington  Boulevard) in Los Angeles.     

“The immensely likable Keith David plays Robeson…charming the audience with the  humanizing wit of his delivery, as well as his voice, which approaches the  resonance of Robeson’s own,” said Margaret Gray of the Los Angeles Times.    

Recommended by Stage Raw, its critic Lovell Estell, III said, “Dean’s script  whirls through Robeson’s fascinating life, from his college days at Rutgers and  Columbia Law School, through a brief stint as a ‘token’ at a law firm, to his  steady rise to theatrical stardom and international acclaim in the company of  such luminaries as George Bernard Shaw and Sergei Eisenstein.  Splendid  performance and singing…when David breaks out into a rendition of ‘Ol’ Man  River,’ you’d swear you were again listening to that long-silenced, unique basso  profundo.  Smith’s musical accompaniment is flawless.”  "The production values here are high in quality, but minimal in terms of the  scenic design (by Edward E. Haynes Jr.).  It is the lighting (by Dan Weingarten)  that provides the focus of this staging, effortlessly guiding our eyes from one  scene to the next. Further, the costuming (by Wendell C. Carmichael) is formal  but timeless tuxedo-wear, fitting the proceedings perfectly," said Ben Miles,  ShowMag.com. Cristofer Gross of TheaterTimes.org said, "Kudos to Ebony Repertory Theatre for bringing this dramatic reminder of greatness Los Angeles. As was the  case with with its memorable revival of A Raisin in the Sun in 2011, it's  something that benefits the entire Los Angeles community, and is another  reminder that the Nate Holden Theatre on Washington may be this city's best  space to see a play."   

A powerful chronicle of the life of Paul Robeson, Phillip Hayes Dean’s play  takes us from his childhood in New Jersey to his adult life around the world. An  All-American athlete and a lawyer with Columbia Law School credentials, Robeson  faces the racism prevalent in society in the early part of the twentieth  century. He strives to rise above, and it is his triumph in that struggle that  turns Robeson into a modern day hero.  Realizing the racist system would not allow him to practice as a lawyer, Robeson  turns to singing, something he had learned well in the church choir. His singing  leads to acting and his acting, with all the accolades due a master, leads him  around the world. But every place he visits he sees the strains of racism in its  many forms. The more he sees, the more he speaks out, using his influence and  stature to try and enlighten those around him. After some time in Europe, he  returns to the United States to perform and speak out about the injustices in  the country he loves. Confronting racism again, he sticks to his values,  adhering to no party line, but is accused of being a Communist, an agitator and  much more. He is blacklisted and his passport is revoked, but he goes on  speaking out whenever he can.  For eight years Robeson fights to clear his name. Finally, the social climate  begins to change and toward the end of his life, Robeson's passport is  reinstated along with some of the glory and respect he earned along the way.  There is still far to go, but Paul Robeson remains a beacon to those struggling  to make this world a better place. 

In addition to director Phillip Hayes Dean, the creative team for PAUL ROBESON  includes scenic design by Edward E. Haynes, Jr., costume design by Wendell C.  Carmichael, lighting design by Dan Weingarten, sound design by Bob Blackburn and  choreography by Keith Young. The production stage manager is David Blackwell.  Phillip Hayes Dean’s PAUL ROBESON originally opened on Broadway at the  Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in 1978, later transferring to the Booth Theatre, starring  James Earl Jones and directed by Lloyd Richards with original staging by Charles  Nelson Reilly. 

The one-man play had two revivals on Broadway – 1988 at the John  Golden Theatre and in 1995 at the Longacre Theatre. Both productions starred  Avery Brooks and were directed by Harold Scott.   Ebony Repertory Theatre, now in its sixth year, is the resident company and  operator of the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, which is located at 4718  West Washington Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90016. 

Paul Robeson runs now through  April 27, 2014.  The remaining schedule is:  Friday, April 18 at 8 p.m.;  Saturday, April 19 at 8 p.m.; Sunday, April 20 at 7 p.m; Friday, April 25  at 8 p.m.; Saturday, April 26 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 27 at 3 p.m.  (final performance).  Tickets range from $30 - $60. Single tickets are  available online at ebonyrep.org or by phone at 323-964-9766. Groups of 10 or  more are available via email at groups@ebonyrep.org or 323-964-9766.

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