York Theatre Company announce two mainstage productions: 'Blind Lemon Blues' and 'Yank!'
The York Theatre Company announce two upcoming mainstage productions. Blind Lemon Blues ï¿½ based upon more than 60 Blind Lemon Jefferson songs ï¿½ will return to the York Mainstage in Fall, performances beginning 8 Sep 2009. Spring 2010 will see the Off-Broadway premiere of the new musical Yank!, beginning performances in Feb 2010.
All performances will be at the companyï¿½s home at The Theatre at Saint Peter's.
Blind Lemon Blues was created by Alan Govenar and Akin Babatunde, with musical arrangements by Akin Babatunde, Cavin Yarbrough and Alisa Peoples Yarbrough, and is directed and choreographed by Babatunde. It will be presented by The York Theatre Company and Documentary Arts in association with Central Track Productions.
Blind Lemon Blues was presented as a York mainstage production in 2007 for a special 10-performance run featuring Benita Arterberry, Akin Babatunde, Timothy Parham, Lillias White, Cavin Yarbrough, Alisa Peoples Yarbrough and guitarist Sam Swank.
The New York Times declared it ï¿½a lively and intelligent new musicalï¿½an inspiration!ï¿½ and Variety wrote ï¿½Blues lovers be gratefulï¿½ very, very gratefulï¿½Blind Lemon Jeffersonï¿½s voice emerges with full force!ï¿½
Casting for the fall engagement will be announced soon.
Jefferson was a blind street musician who played his guitar with a tin cup tied to it until a Paramount Records scout discovered him. Between 1926 and 1929, Jefferson made more than 80 records and became the biggest selling down-home blues singer in America.
Blind Lemon Blues is set in New York City in 1948 at the last recording session of the legendary Huddie Ledbetter, better known as Leadbelly, and combines elements of traditional blues, gospel, rhythm and blues, soul, doo-wop, and rap to evoke the enduring legacy of Blind Lemon and his contemporaries Blind Willie Johnson, Lillian Glinn, Hattie Hudson, Bobbie Cadillac, Lillian Miller and Leadbelly himself.
Yank!, a new musical set in the U.S. Army at the time of World War II, has music by Joseph Zellnik with book and lyrics by David Zellnik. It will be presented by the York Theatre Company in association with Pamela Koslow, Maren Berthelsen and Stuart Wilk, and associate producer Matt Schicker.
The cast and creative teams will be announced shortly. Yank! tells the story of Stu, a scared Midwestern kid who gets drafted for World War II in 1943, and becomes a photographer for Yank Magazine, the journal ï¿½for and by the servicemen.ï¿½
Yank! has a score that pays homage to the 1940s and explores what it means to be a man, and what it is to fall in love and struggle to survive in a time and place where the odds are stacked against him.
Yank! premiered at the New York Musical Theatre Festival in 2005 where it had a sold-out run and won an audience award for Best Musical. It was subsequently presented by the Gallery Players in Brooklynï¿½where it was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award, and was seen in its West Coast premiere at the Diversionary Theatre in San Diego.