Funded! This project was successfully funded on June 14, 2012.

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We plan to mount one of the first African-American productions of The Pulitzer Prize-winning musical "Next to Normal" this summer.

You Wanna Know…

“...where did this idea come from?”

When you take a trip to the Theater to see a “musical” or a “play”, you have an expectation. You expect to see the show performed in the context of the Original Broadway Production.  It’s comforting knowing the title of the show will be sung, danced and portrayed like the original production:

Maria will be a Puerto Rican, of average height with long dark hair in every production of West Side Story; Coalhouse Walker, Jr. will be portrayed by a strong African-American male with, a commanding voice and stature in most productions of Ragtime; Kim will always be an Asian girl, of small stature, portrayed as someone afraid of the world.

In the cases of West Side Story, Ragtime, Miss Saigon, and stories alike, these characteristics are an essential part of the stories’ context.  Each story is built upon “cultural identifiers” that these characters must possess for the conflict to remain true.  In this type of musical, like West Side Story, the “cultural identifiers”, or stereotypes, can not be ignored.

But, what about the shows where race, creed, and religion don’t matter? What happens when the story deals with a universally human experience, like friendship, love, or family?  To most, the answers seem simple,  - The show can be performed by anyone who fits the demands of the characters.  “Right?”

“…random facts?”

In twenty-four years, there has only been one African-American Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera.

There has only been one African-American Elphaba in Wicked.

Both, Phantom of the Opera and Wicked are still running on Broadway.

Two of Broadway’s longest running and most profitable shows have only allowed people of color to portray those powerful roles once.

The theme, in both these shows, is built on the human need for love and acceptance.  Humanities’ most basic commonality and yet, this portrayal by an African-American actor/actress is something that has only been tried once.

ArtsCentric is by no means a company that only sees race.  We believe in order for theatre to survive and continue thriving, it has to reflect the faces of the theater community.  In local and regional theatre, the need to see the faces of the “theater-community” in “the theater” is significantly higher than the same need in Broadway theaters.

If audiences never see a person with whom they can relate to, on the stage, they do not return.  There is magic made in theatres when the connection between the audience and a show happens!  That “theatre magic” creates something that inspires both to demand more from the other.  When the experience ends, positively or negatively, we are changed.  A casual chat with your neighbor or friend about a terrible show can be just as enjoyable as a chat about an amazing show.  In either scenario, “connection” has been made.

“...where is ArtsCentric?”  ArtsCentric is located in Baltimore, MD.  Baltimore is ranked amongst the most violent cities in the nation and there is a strong need for cultural awareness and change.  ArtsCentric would like to do its part to help start these changes.

“...who is ArtsCentric?”  If you’ll read our bio, you will see that we have dedicated our organization to performing, of course, but ArtsCentric is actively involved in giving back.  We have written several educational shows (i.e.: The Black History Month Script; The Dr. King, Jr. Day Celebration Script) and, performed these shows in various elementary and middle schools around the area {Folly Quarter Middle School, Howard County, MD}. We’ve also performed at a few historical music concerts and at various local museums {The Flag House, Baltimore, MD}.

 We believe in the power of performance.  It has changed our lives and we have witnessed, “the power of performance”, change the lives of others.

ArtsCentric needs your help to keep this dream afloat.

“...what is ArtsCentric planning to do?”  This season ArtsCentric is focused on two main projects.  The first, and most important project is, our production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical “Next to Normal” which will run August 17-19, 2012.

This story focuses on the hardships of an everyday family dealing with a mother who struggles with a worsening, Bipolar disorder.  This powerful story also deals with issues of prescription drug abuse, attempted suicide, and the neglect of one child for another.

A predominantly African-American cast will portray ArtsCentric’s “Next To Normal” this summer.  This is a first in Maryland’s history, and in most states for that matter.   This production will feature actors who have held leading roles in National Tours of the following shows: The Color Purple, The Phantom Tollbooth, and Chicago.  Amongst this cast, you will find: Helen-Hayes nominees; advanced college degrees in Vocal Music, Theater Arts, and Management for the Arts.  ArtsCentric’s cast of “Next To Normal” is not your average group of performers.  THEY ARE THE BEST!!!

(pictured below, ArtsCentric's cast of: Next To Normal)

{Marquise White and Will Emory - photos unavailable}

The cast has agreed to give of their time and talents because, the cast of Next To Normal believes in the mission of ArtsCentric

“...what is ArtsCentric’s mission?”  We love exposing people to shows they have never seen.  We pride ourselves on entertaining, while educating.  When each show ends, we meet people who thank us for the experience they’ve received.  After a production, or when our event is over, both children and adults approach us, wanting to know when we will be having auditions, for the next show.  When that happens, we know we have done our job!

The need for the African-American production, comes from the delivery of our productions and events, to an audience that is 85% black.  This is a fact we enjoy and appreciate.  There are very few theaters or arts companies in this state to have this honor.  We intend to show our audience how much we appreciate this honor, by reflecting their faces on our stage.  There is no better way for ArtsCentric to say, “We appreciate you!”

Now that we’ve promised you a mind blowing show.  Won’t you help us? 

“...how can I, help you?”  The $5,000.00 we need to raise is only half of what this show will need to be a success.  Your contribution will help us secure the best lighting designer, scenic designer, and set designer to join the artistic team.  Donations will help pay the cost of having a space to rehearse the show.  Your gift will pay for the complete makeover, as the artistic team transforms a school recital hall, at a local private school, into robust theater.  Your financial support will help us develop marketing and advertising options to bring this message to a larger audience.  By becoming one of ArtsCentric’s producers, you will help us pay the instrumentalists who perform our musicals.  I could go on, and on.  

“...the 2nd half of ArtsCentric’s season?” ArtsCentric’s second project this season is a musical Cedric and I have been writing for more than a year and a half.  We are currently in the initial planning-conversations regarding a concert version of our “new work”.  Our discourse covers plans to present our “new work” at the end of the year and pay top-notch dollars to hire premiere-professionals to perform the work.

However grand this seems, orchestras and their orchestrations, actors and actresses, microphones and audio equipment, and theatre spaces costs money.  Money we don’t have.  So, don’t forget to listen to “The Living Has Died” from our “new work” featuring the singing-actress, Mary E. Searcy.  And you shouldn’t leave the page without clicking on “One Moment In Time” from our “new work”, featuring Helen Hayes nominee Vishal Vaidya and Crystal Freeman.   As the Baltimore Sun puts it “Her singing hits your gut, …in her delivery...” as referenced by Mike Giuliano about Crystal Freeman.  Leave comments if you like.  We love feedback!

In addition to our current, top-secret "new work", this summer, one of Cedric's recent musical theater projects, 7:32, a new musical, will be presented at The 2012 New York Musical Theatre Festival. 

“...the reason you should support ArtsCentric.”  We believe in dreaming big.  We believe in the power of hard work.  Most importantly, we believe in the power of giving to our community.   There is nothing to be gained from sitting at the top of a mountain alone.  We want ArtsCentric to be the kind of organization that is built with the love and support of friends and family, both near and far.  Our pledge to you, we promise to never give up on the powers of creativity and imagination, because through them, anything is possible.

 Pictured below: Members of ArtsCentric, photo taken August 2005.

   

  Review of ArtsCentric’s production of : "Elton John & Tim Rice's Aida" (2007);

 

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    Your name will be listed in the program as a producer. An autographed flyer of Next To Normal. 1 free digital download of “The Living Has Died”. A personalized hand written thank you card from our Executive Director. A personalized “Thank You” video from the cast and crew of “Next To Normal”. A picture of all the opening night donors, and the entire cast of Next to Normal, on opening night on the set. 2 Tickets to opening night of Next To Normal. (2 tickets total) 1 CD – The Black Nativity Live In Concert! 2 backstage rehearsal passes / 2 Tickets to Next To Normal – dress rehearsal. ArtsCentric will perform for you and your family, in your home!

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