Betty & the Belrays at Theater For The New City

Theater For The New City presents Betty & the Belrays, by William Electric Black & Valerie Ghent, playing at Theater For The New City Cabaret Theater from 8 Mar - 1 Apr 2007.

The musical is a high-spirited, family-friendly production that has been developed collaboratively by William Electric Black (a.k.a. Ian Ellis James), a seven-time Emmy winner for 'Sesame Street,' and composer/instrumentalist Valerie Ghent, who is known as an arranger/keyboardist for Ashford & Simpson. It features a live onstage Motown band led by Ghent, authentic '60s choreography and a cast of seven.

Betty & the Belrays takes place in 1963, a time of freedom riders and equal rights marches. Betty Belarosky, against her parents' wishes, forms an all white musical group with two girls she meets in the employment line at the telephone company. As if inspired by song styles of the period, her collaborators are one lovesick femme fatale and one 'tough girl' type. In order to get a record deal at Soltown--a black record company--these three white girls venture to the Negro side of town for the tutelage of a Miss Loretta Jones, an oldtime soul singer, who coaches them not only about singing, but also about the Civil Rights Movement.

The more their music incorporates Miss Loretta's teachings, the higher their records climb on the charts. Their growing popularity makes it seem that the girls could actually bring their segregated city together through their music. But after an appearance on a popular television show, Betty & The Belrays are offered a major record deal from a white label on the condition that they will have to stop singing about racial issues. The girls are faced with hate mail from their own community and an agonizing career choice: should they stop singing about racial issues and sing for the white record label?

This musical is kid-friendly and recommended for audiences aged ten and up.

Directed by William Electric Black and choreographed by Jeremy Lardieri, Betty & the Belrays> features Nicole Patullo (Betty), Cara S. Liander, Vanessa Burke, Chris Reber, Lucille Duncan, Levern Williams and Verna Hampton.

Originally published on

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