About this project
A Lady Must Live
A Bio Play - Inside the imaginary mind of Lena Horne by Rikki Beadle-Blair
A LADY MUST LIVE SYNOPSIS
Backstage after the first preview of 'A Lady and Her Music,' legendary movie star Lena Horne wrestles - emotionally and physically - with her ghosts, struggling to rework her show to recount her life story with more candour and complexity.
Wrangling with her dead mother over the accuracy of her recollections she calls upon, among others, her husband, her son and her dearest friend, legendary gay black composer Billy Strayhorn, ("Lush Life") all of whom died tragically early, to help recreate and debate Lena's highly subjective memories.
Digging deeper than the traditional bioplay, the show is shot through with ironically juxtaposed songs from Lena's catalogue, taking a powerful look at what it has taken and all too often still takes, to make a life as a woman, an African American, an entertainer or working mother. It's all there - The Cotton Club days, the MGM years, her secret interracial marriage, the blacklist years.
"I was unique in that I was a kind of black that white people could accept. I was their daydream. I had the worst kind of acceptance because it was never for how great I was or what I contributed. It was because of the way I looked" - Lena Horne
This is a fictionalized version of the Lena Horne that looks at this legend symbolizes socially as America makes his slow steady way to becoming truly the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.
When creating this piece, there have been certain watchwords for me: Passion. Compassion. Humour. Honesty. And above all... Entertainment. This production stands for more than a tribute to Lena's talents or a catalogue of her achievements. It's a testament to the complexity of her humanity. And of ours.
The set is made of hanging mirrors, each surrounded by light bulbs representing Lena's splintered memories, fragile ego and insistent work ethic.
The cast is modest: Three women, Two men. All gorgeous. All playing Lena's ghosts - Except for Salli Richardson-Whitfield who plays Lena from the age of five to 65.
All this amounts to a powerhouse, music-filled, cinematically-flavoured yet totally theatrical experience. Vanguard entertainment with insight and soul.
Writer/Director: Rikki Beadle-Blair
Rikki Beadle-Blair has won several awards including the Sony Award for radio, and both the Los Angeles Outfest Screenwriting and Outstanding Achievement awards. His projects include several feature films and TV series, including 'Stonewall' for the BBC/Killer Films, Metrosexuality for Channel 4,’ 'Noah’s Arc' for MTV LOGO, and most recently 'Blackbird' starring Mo’nique & Isaiah Washington, FIT, FREE KickOff & Bashment for his own production company Team Angelica. Rikki works extensively in theatre and has written 20 plays in the last decade including ‘Bashment’ ‘Familyman’ ‘Shalom Baby’ & ‘Gutted.’
Producer: Craig Dorfman
Craig Dorfman began his career off Broadway running The Harold Clurman and Samuel Beckett Theatres where he worked with such actors and directors as Cherry Jones, Glenn Close, Alvin Epstein, Alan Schneider, Jack Garfein and Samuel Beckett. He then formed his own talent agency in New York and Los Angeles. He segued to management in the early 2000’s where, in addition to Salli, he has guided the careers of such actors as Annie Potts, Mercedes Ruehl, Matt Craven, Thomas Gibson, Lorraine Toussaint, Bill Smitrovich, Johnny Galecki and Mykelti Williamson. He is very proud to be working on this project with Salli and Rikki.
Producer: Salli Richardson-Whitfield
Salli Richardson-Whitfield is a talented actress born on Chicago's south side. This mega talent has been the lead actress on the Sci-Fi channels hit, Eureka for five successful seasons. She has been featured in over twenty major motion pictures including Posse and A Low Down Dirty Shame. Mrs. Richardson-Whitfield has starred across some of the most powerful leading actors in Hollywood: Samuel L. Jackson in The Great White Hype, Denzel Washington in Antwone Fisher, and of course, Will Smith in I Am Legend. She has further cemented her "legend" with a featured arc in Aaron Sorkin's HBO hit, The Newsroom. Most recently, Mrs. Richardson-Whitfield has recently made guest appearances on such hits as ABC’s Castle and opposite Don Cheadle on Showtime’s House of Lies. She has even lent her sultry voice to the cult classic cartoon, Gargoyles. Participating in countless charitable and philanthropic events annually, Salli Richardson-Whitfield proves that the only thing bigger than her talents is her heart.
Why NOT Kickstarter? This platform provides a great opportunity to connect with fans and friends who want Lena's voice to be heard and at at the same time keeping creative control in our hands. A Lady Must Live, and we want her to live through this platform! With your help, we can tell this phenomenal story of Lena Horne through Salli. Join us on this ride!
Risks and challenges
Every project has potential obstacles and especially a project of this caliber. Whether it's delays in the schedule, securing a theater, etc... we are confident in our team of people and our supporters and fans that we will be able to get through them and still bring this project into fruition!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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