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CPH Presents Uplifting Holiday Concert “Songs From The First Noel”

Posted December 18, 2020 in Press Releases

(Cleveland, OH) Cleveland Play House celebrates the holiday season with an uplifting musical concert Songs From The First Noel on Sunday, December 20, 2020 at 7:30 pm. This vibrant offering features pop, jazz and gospel music, as well as reimagined Christmas classics. With book, music and lyrics by Jason Michael Webb and Lelund Durond Thompson, this soulful inspirational production is co-directed by Lelund Durond Thompson and Steve H. Broadnax III. Viewing tickets are $10 per household and are available for purchase exclusively at www.clevelandplayhouse.com.

Cleveland Play House Artistic Director Laura Kepley states, “This holiday concert featuring songs from the musical The First Noel is a not-to-be-missed special event that will touch your heart and raise your spirits. The gorgeous music and extraordinarily talented cast embody all of the feelings that the holiday season can trigger. This production will give the gift of healing, hope and rejoicing.”

A poignant new musical, The First Noel tells the universal story of a family that must confront the grief of the past in order to reunite and celebrate the joy of the present. The virtual broadcast includes exclusive behind-the-scenes interviews with the creative team: Tony Award winner Jason Michael Webb, Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Play House (CWRU/CPH) MFA Alum Lelund Durond Thompson, and celebrated regional theatre director Steve H. Broadnax III.

CWRU/CPH MFA grad Thompson appeared in the CPH productions of A Streetcar Named Desire, Well, and the 2014 New Ground Theatre Festival workshop of Joe.

Webb created musical arrangements for CPH’s 2018 production of Marie and Rosetta.

Broadnax directed CPH’s 2019 production of Pipeline and served as associate director of CPH’s 2018 production of Marie and Rosetta.

The First Noel received its world premiere at The Apollo Theatre in NYC and was produced by The Classical Theatre of Harlem in 2015. It played the Apollo again in 2016 and has since been produced at theatres across the country. For additional information and to hear the cast recording produced by Thompson and Webb, please visit: www.thefirstnoelmusical.com.

The virtual broadcast premiere of Songs From The First Noel will be on Sunday, December 20, 2020 at 7:30 pm ET and can be streamed via YouTube on a computer, laptop, tablet, or Smart TV. The production can be accessed on demand through Friday, January 1, 2021 at 11:59 PM ET. Viewing access is $10 per household. Patrons can purchase tickets at www.clevelandplayhouse.com.

The production includes musical performances by Angela Birchett, Ciara Cain, India Carney, Nia Caesar, Les Cleveland, Daniela Cobb, Jesse Corbin, Revel Day, Tina Fabrique, Ayana George, Chelton Gray, Kristen Grinage, Jennie Harney, Adam Hyndman, Lamont Hill Cassondra James, Ashley Ware Jenkins, Saivon Johnson, Alec Lehrman, Jonathan Linden, Aaron Marcellus, Benjamin Moore, Carlos Ricketts, Kenneth Robinson, Soara-Joye Ross, Jared Schonig, Anderlyn Smith, Teresa Stanley, Skye Dakota Turner, Tiffany Webb Stoney, Vicky Walters, and Helen White.

The broadcast premiere event of Songs From The First Noel will also serve as the CPH Annual Free Night of Theatre for the scholars, families, educators, and staff of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District community.

KeyBank is the Presenting Sponsor of the 2020-21 Theatre Season at Cleveland Play House.

Additional funding for Songs From The First Noel is provided by K&D, Kulas Foundation, LSC Service Corporation, Medical Mutual of Ohio, Zinner & Co, Janet Kramer, and Cathy Lincoln.

REVIEWS

The First Noel means to tug at the heartstrings, and it does…” – The New York Times

“…a distinct holiday story that’s as believably specific as it is emotionally universal.” – Billboard

“…a story of healing and welcoming the hopeful message of the holiday season.” – Theater Pizzazz

THE CREATIVE TEAM

LELUND DUROND THOMPSON (book, music, lyrics, co-director) received his BFA from North Carolina A&T State University, where he was recognized with several Paul Robeson Awards for acting. Thompson received his MFA from the Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Play House MFA Acting program, where he was the first African American to graduate the program. After graduation, Thompson moved to New York City where he has continued to work professionally as an actor, writer, photographer, and coach. He was commissioned with Tony Award-winning composer Jason Michael Webb to write an original musical for The Classical Theater of Harlem’s production of The First Noel, which premiered at the world-famous Apollo Theater. Thompson also serves as personal acting coach for film and television actors such as Jennifer Hudson (Respect, the 2020 Aretha Franklin movie), Diane Guerrero (Orange is the New Black, Jane the Virgin), and Ato Essandoh (Django Unchained, Martin Scorsese’s Vinyl).

JASON MICHAEL WEBB (book, music, lyrics), a 2019 Special Tony Award recipient, Drama Desk winner, and a 2020 Tony Award nominee, is a composer, lyricist, musical director, producer, and arranger. From conducting orchestras in Broadway pits to writing and arranging music for a President’s inauguration, Jason has dedicated his life to using music to heal, uplift and encourage. He appeared as a pianist onstage with Dame Shirley Bassey, Michael Bolton, Cece Winans, and Chaka Khan. He has conducted live and recording orchestras from New York to LA, including internationally acclaimed pianist Lang Lang’s 2016 love letter to NYC, “New York Rhapsody” (PBS), which featured performances by Rufus Wainwright, Regina Spektor and Suzanne Vega.

STEVE H. BROADNAX III (co-director) served as director of the world premiere production of The Hot Wing King by Katori Hall, Mud Row by Dominique Morisseau, Travisville by William Jackson Harper, Bayard Rustin: Inside Ashland by Steve H. Broadnax III, and Everybody Black by Dave Harris. Regional Theatre: Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, Cleveland Play House, People’s Light, Hattiloo Theatre, Ensemble Studio Theatre Company, Chautauqua Theatre Company, Apollo Theatre NYC, Classical Theatre of Harlem, Atlantic Theatre NYC, Detroit Public Theatre, Baltimore Center Stage, The Black Theatre Troupe in Phoenix, Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Moore Theatre in Seattle, Market Theatre in Johannesburg, The Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, National Arts Festival in South Africa, and The Adelaide Arts Festival Australia.

TICKET INFORMATION

Registration for Songs From The First Noel is required in advance. Viewing access is $10 per household. The event will be broadcast on YouTube and can be viewed on a computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Patrons can purchase viewing tickets exclusively by visiting www.clevelandplayhouse.com.

ABOUT THE PRODUCERS

CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE, founded in 1915 and recipient of the 2015 Regional Theatre Tony Award, is America's first professional regional theatre. Throughout its rich history, CPH has remained dedicated to its mission to inspire, stimulate, and entertain diverse audiences across Northeast Ohio by producing plays and theatre education programs of the highest professional standards. CPH has produced more than 100 world and/or American premieres, and over its long history more than 12 million people have attended over 1,600 productions. Today, Cleveland Play House celebrates the beginning of its second century of service while performing in three state-of-the art venues at Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland. Cleveland Play House is made possible in part by state tax dollars allocated by the Ohio Legislature to the Ohio Arts Council (OAC). The OAC is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Cleveland Play House is supported in part by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. To learn more, visit: www.clevelandplayhouse.com.

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