Cast & Creative

Cast

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Dyllón Burnside

A multi-hyphenate performer, creator, and recording artist, Burnside has appeared in notable stage, television, and film projects. He currently stars as Ricky in Ryan Murphy’s and FX’s ground-breaking and Emmy-nominated series, “Pose.” He first captivated audiences with his Broadway debut, starring as Anthony in 2014’s Holler if Ya Hear Me, a hip-hop musical inspired by the music and lyrics of Tupac Shakur. He also appeared in NBC’s “Peter Pan Live!” and the HBO series “High Maintenance,” all while completing his final year at the prestigious CAP21 conservatory for music theatre and The New School where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Media Studies and Writing. Last year, Burnside hosted the series “Prideland” for PBS. The series explored LGBTQ+ identity in the South and was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award. The Pensacola, FL native began performing professionally at the age of 12 as a member of the hip-hop/R&B boy band 3D, which afforded him the opportunity to tour the country performing original music. Burnside released his debut solo single last year and is currently working on new music. In addition to his performance work, he is passionate about producing quality arts content that promotes social change and works with students at schools across the country about the importance of arts education as a means of personal empowerment and self-expression.

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Bryan Terrell Clark

On Broadway, Clark appeared as George Washington in the smash hit Hamilton. He made his Broadway debut playing the iconic role of Marvin Gaye in Motown: The Musical and is featured on the Grammy Award-nominated Original Broadway Cast Album. Additional theater credits include Fences at the Pasadena Playhouse opposite Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett and the Mark Taper Forum’s production of Immediate Family directed by Phylicia Rashad. Clark will be seen in Shonda Rhymes’ “Inventing Anna” on Netflix and the upcoming Disney+ film, Sneakerella. Most recently, Clark was seen on the TNT drama “Snowpiercer” and NBC’s “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.” Numerous television appearances include Ava DuVernay’s 2020 Peabody Award-winning Netflix miniseries “When They See Us,” “Cherish The Day” and “Queen Sugar” on OWN, CBS’ “NCIS: New Orleans,” “Blue Bloods,” “Person of Interest,” “Unforgettable,” “CSI: NY,” and “The Unit.” He has also had roles on NBC’s “The Mysteries of Laura,” Fox’s “Empire,” USA Network’s “Royal Pains” as well as BET’s “The New Edition Story” and “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne.” In addition, Clark appeared in the Warner Bros. film, Collateral Beauty. As a singer, songwriter, and producer, he was co-writer on Mary J. Blige’s “Irreversible” on the album My Life II and has performed with such artists as Maxwell, Brandy, Ne-Yo, Anita Baker, Michael Bublé, and many others. Clark is the co-founder of inDEFINED, an initiative launched in 2017 that inspires and teaches young people to use their voices to erase constrictive labels in our society. He graduated from the Yale School of Drama and Temple University. He is a native of Baltimore, Maryland.

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Keith David

is a Tony Award nominee and three-time Emmy winner. He recently starred in “Greenleaf” for Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network and provides the narration for Ken Burns’ upcoming “Muhammed Ali.” Other recent features include 21 Bridges with Chadwick Boseman, Night School with Kevin Hart, and Tales from the Hood 2. Additional titles include the Academy Award-winning films Crash and Platoon, Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, Requiem for a Dream, Men at Work, They Live, There’s Something About Mary, and The Thing. Other TV credits include: “Creepshow,” “NCIS: New Orleans,” “Blackish,” MacGyver,” “Fresh Off the Boat,” “Community,” “Enlisted,” “ER,” and “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood.” On Broadway, David starred in August Wilson’s Seven Guitars and George C. Wolfe’s Jelly’s Last Jam for which he garnered a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. David’s work as a voice actor has made him a household name. His rich and powerful voice has been featured in national commercials, award shows, documentaries, video games, and animation. In addition to “Muhammed Ali”, his work in narration has earned him three Emmys for Ken Burns’ “Jackie Robinson,” “The War,” and “Unforgivable Blackness – The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson.”
Born and raised in New York, he enrolled in New York’s High School of the Performing Arts and continued his studies at The Juilliard School. After graduation, he was immediately hired by Joseph Papp as an understudy for the role of Tullus Aufidius in Coriolanus.

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Da’Vinchi
Photo of Luke James
Luke James

has become one of the most watched multi-hyphenate talents in the entertainment industry today. This year, James can be seen in the critically acclaimed Showtime drama series “The Chi,” and he recently recurred opposite Cynthia Erivo in “Genius: Aretha,” exploring Aretha Franklin’s musical genius and incomparable career. Additional television credits include: the hit FOX/Lee Daniels series “Star,” HBO’s “Insecure,” USA’s “Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G.,” and his role as R&B singer Johnny Gill on BET’s “The Bobby Brown Story.” On the film front, James appeared in the smash hit Universal Pictures comedy Little opposite Issa Rae, Regina Hall, and Marsai Martin. In music, James released his album, to feel love/d in January 2020 which garnered a 2021 Grammy nomination for Best R&B Album marking the third Grammy nomination of Luke’s career. Born and raised in New Orleans, Luke was immersed in the rich musical heritage of the city at an early age, even taking up the saxophone for a number of years. He got his start professionally singing background for Tyrese and went on to write for top artists including Justin Bieber, Chris Brown, and Snoh Aalegra, to name a few. As James expanded his solo career, he went on to perform alongside the late Prince and open for Beyoncé’s Mrs. Carter Show World Tour. In 2012, he received his first Grammy nomination for Best R&B Performance for his hit song “I Want You” from his first mixtape #Luke and received his second Grammy nomination in 2015 for Best R&B Song for “Options ft. Rick Ross,” from his self-titled debut album Luke James. Luke currently splits his time between Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, where he is hard at work on his multitude of projects.

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Forrest McClendon

Forrest McClendon. Broadway/London: The Scottsboro Boys (Tony Award nomination). Off-Broadway: City Center Encores!, New Federal, Vineyard, La MaMa. Thoughts of a Colored Man at Arena Stage, Syracuse Stage, and Center Stage. Other regional: Guthrie Theatre, A Contemporary Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Westport Playhouse, Two River, Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre, North Carolina Shakespeare Festival. Awards: Lunt-Fontanne Fellow, two Barrymore Awards (five nominations). Numerous visiting professorships. Faculty: National Theater Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center. @forrestmcclend1 www.forrestmcclendon.com

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Tristan "Mack" Wilds

Tristan “Mack” Wilds is an actor, Grammy Award-nominated singer/songwriter, and producer from New York. The multi-faceted entertainer became widely popular from his breakout roles as Michael Lee on the critically acclaimed HBO series, “The Wire,” and starring as Dixon Wilson on the hit remake “90210” on the CW. Wilds has since appeared on notable television series such as Fox’s “Shots Fired” and VH1’s “The Breaks” and feature films such as George Lucas’ Red Tails and The Secret Life of Bees alongside heavy hitters Queen Latifah and Dakota Fanning. Not to mention, Wilds also appeared as the lead in Adele’s “Hello” music video, which has garnered almost over 3 billion views, quickly becoming one of the fastest music videos to reach a billion views. In more recent news, Wilds will star in the Kevin Durant executive produced series, “Swagger,” one of the first original series on Apple+, which is executive produced and directed by Reggie Bythewood.

Creative

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KEENAN SCOTT II Playwright

is a native New Yorker, born and raised in Pomonok Housing Projects in Flushing, Queens. He relocated, along with his mother and older sister, to southern Maryland. It was on the streets of Washington, D.C. that Keenan found a new way of communicating, the underground SLAM poetry scene. Once discovered and cultivated, Keenan took his poetry writing further. At the age of eighteen, just before graduating from high school, Keenan self-published his first book of poems. A graduate of Frostburg State University, Keenan received his Bachelors in Theatre Arts with a concentration in acting. A true renaissance man, Keenan mostly enjoys giving a voice to his community.

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Steve H. Broadnax III Director

People’s Light: The Mountaintop. Theater directing credits include shows and theatres nationally and internationally: Actors’ Theatre of Louisville, 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, AZ, 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. The Hip Hop Project, an award-winning, full-length, original play directed, choreographed, and conceived by Steve, has toured nationally and was showcased at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in Washington, D.C. Other writings include the award-winning American Taboo and Camouflage (Eugene O’Neil semi-finalist). Training: Conservatory of Fine Arts Webster University (BFA), Penn State University (MFA). Steve is currently a Professor of Theatre and Head of MFA Acting at Penn State University.

Te’La Music

Te’La, the rowdy rebel and all-around sunny vibe creator, is here to make her presence known. A multidisciplinary artist hailing from central New Jersey, she delivers ethereal heartfelt ballads & trap jazzy serenades through her enchanting vocals and colorfully arranged harmonies. In fall of 2017, Te’La released her debut album “Out of Bounds” on all musical platforms. The Mezzo-Soprano songstress hopes to make a lasting impact touching souls with her music. Te’La believes her purpose on Earth is to inspire her audience to strive for their own truth. “The Sunshine Queen” is both a remarkable story and an alluring song. She offers an authentic approach to music through her bright, sunny style. Acting credit includes REGIONAL: NYTW: Rated Black, Shakespeare Theatre Co. Of D.C.: As You Like It, Imagination Stage: Cinderella: The Remix, Howard University: The Colored Museum, Passing Strange, “Breath, Boom”, Sirens, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide. Fringe Festival: The Hair Chronicles. Te’La would like to thank Keenan Scott III, Brian Moreland and Ron Simons for such a wonderful opportunity. Cheers to the amazing Thoughts of a Colored Man Team!

Brother Kamau Music

Brother Kamau could be referred to as a singer and rapper, but his inclination for sound play as much as word play — inspired by African music, doo-wop, and hip-hop alike — demonstrates that he’s a vocalist more so than either specific distinction. The productions that support his voice likewise defy easy categorization, as they’ve drawn from contemporary pop and rap while reflecting inspirations that include Oddisee, Lupe Fiasco, Bobby McFerrin, Vieux Diop, André 3000, and k-os. Oddisee’s “The Good Fight” album, released by Melo Music Group and No Wyld’s Ascension EP, released by Columbia, both in 2015, were the first major recordings on which KAMAU was heard. The following year, he contributed “The Icarus” to The Birth of a Nation: The Inspired By Album, appeared on No Wyld’s full-length Nomads and released a handful of singles, as well as the six-track A Gorgeous Fortune EP. A full-length set entitled The “KAMAU-CASSETTE: ŭRTH GōL” arrived in 2017, including the tender single “MĭNT” featuring Talibah Safiya.

ROBERT BRILL Set Designer

Brill is a two-time Tony Award nominee and Drama Desk winner for Broadway, where his credits include Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations, Summer–The Donna Summer Musical, Assassins, as well as the set and club design for the critically acclaimed revival of Cabaret, at both the Kit Kat Klub and the legendary Studio 54. His other Broadway credits include the recent revivals of Jesus Christ Superstar and Guys and Dolls, A Streetcar Named Desire, Design for Living, and Buried Child.

As an opera designer, Brill’s work has been seen at the English National Opera in London, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and in 2010, his design for the world-premiere of Moby-Dick was presented by Dallas Opera, followed by productions in Australia, Canada and other cities throughout the US, including San Francisco Opera and Washington National Opera at The Kennedy Center. His recent opera credits

include four other world-premiere productions: Cold Mountain for Santa Fe Opera; The Manchurian Candidate at Minnesota Opera; Joby Talbot’s Everest at Dallas Opera; and It’s a Wonderful Life for Houston Grand Opera.

Brill transformed Disney’s Hyperion Theatre for the highly anticipated world-premiere musical spectacular Frozen, produced by Disney Creative Entertainment. Recently, Brill was also named Artist-in-Residence by the nationally renowned La Jolla Playhouse, where his vast array of credits include two recent world-premiere musicals: Chasing the Song, directed by Christopher Ashley, and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, directed by Des McAnuff, featuring the music of The Flaming Lips. Brill’s other theatrical credits include Christopher Plummer’s A Word or Two (Stratford Festival and Ahmanson Theater); Robin and the Seven Hoods, directed by Casey Nicholaw (Old Globe); Sinatra: His Voice. His World. His Way. (Radio City Music Hall); On the Record (Disney Theatrical); The Wiz (La Jolla Playhouse); Wozzeck (San Diego Opera); American in Paris (Boston Ballet); A Clockwork Orange (Steppenwolf Theatre); Anna Deavere Smith’s Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 (Mark Taper Forum and McCarter Theatre); The Laramie Project (presented throughout the US including The Brooklyn Academy of Music); and the 136th edition of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Brill is a founding member of Sledgehammer Theatre, a recipient of the Michael Merritt Award for Excellence in Design and Collaboration, and is a professor of Scenic Design at the University of California San Diego.

TONI-LESLIE JAMES Co-Costume Designer

Toni-Leslie James has designed costumes nationally for every entertainment venue: feature film, television, opera, dance, industrials, regional theater, and Broadway. For Broadway, she has designed Bernhardt/Hamlet, Come From Away (Hewes Design Award, Drama Desk nomination), August Wilson’s Jitney (Tony, Drama Desk nominations), Amazing Grace (Hewes Design nomination), Lucky Guy, The Scottsboro Boys, Finian’s Rainbow, Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, King Hedley II, One Mo’ Time, The Wild Party, Marie Christine, Footloose, The Tempest, Twilight: Los Angeles 1992, Angels in America: Millennium Approaches & Perestroika, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, and Jelly’s Last Jam. Off-Broadway ,she has designed multiple productions for The Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Second Stage, Soho Rep, Lincoln Center Theater, The New York Theatre Workshop, Manhattan Theater Club, The Roundabout Theater, and over 15 productions for the NY City Center Encores series. Regionally, her work could be seen in productions for La Jolla Playhouse, Steppenwolf, Hartford Stage, The Long Wharf, Baltimore Center Stage, The Old Globe, Mark Taper Forum, Arena Stage, Cleveland Playhouse, Cincinnati Playhouse, The Round House Theatre, Seattle Rep, The Shakespeare Theatre, Berkley Rep, The Alliance Theatre, Goodspeed Playhouse,  The Williamstown Theatre Festival, ACT, Portland Center Stage, The Denver Theater Center, and the Crossroads Theatre Co. Internationally, she has designed for The Abbey Theater in Dublin, Ireland, two productions on the West End, The Young Vic, The Royal Court Theater and The Chichester Theater Festival in the UK, The Athens Greek Festival, and Radio Danmark TV in Denmark.  She was the head costume designer for “Whoopi” on NBC, and the CBS soap opera, “As the Word Turns,” as well as having designed three specials for WNET/13’s “Great Performances” series. Her design work has been displayed in nine major museum and college exhibitions including a 2006 retrospective of her career at The American Museum of Natural History, “Designing Woman: Inside The Life And Career of Costume Designer, Toni-Leslie James”, the Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library 2008-2009 exhibition “Curtain Call: A Century of Designing Women”, and “More Life!: Angels in America at Twenty” at The Museum of Performance & Design in San Francisco in 2010-2011.

Ms. James has garnered a total of forty-one costume design nominations or awards for her contributions to various theatrical productions including two Tony Award nominations, five Drama Desk nominations, two Hewes Design Awards and four additional Hewes nominations, five Audelco Award nominations, two N.A.A.C.P Image Award nominations, three Lucille Lortel nominations, a Helen Hayes Award nomination, The Denver Theatre Center Ovation Award nomination, The LA Drama-Logue Award, The FANY Award, The Connecticut Critics Circle Award, the Irene Sharaff Young Masters Award For Costume Design Excellence, the 2009 Obie Award for Sustained Costume Design Excellence, and the 2011 National Black Theater Festival Outstanding Costume Designer of The Year Award. In January 2018, Ms. James was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Sewanee, The University of the South.

Ms. James is an Associate Professor and Head of Design at Virginia Commonwealth University and received her BFA in Theatre from Ohio State University.

DEVARIO SIMMONS Co-Costume Designer

is an American Costume Designer of staged productions. He received his MFA in Costume Design from Virginia Commonwealth University and his BA in Production Studies from Clemson University. His design credits include Spamalot, The Merchant of Venice, In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play), Man of La Mancha, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Ensemble (earning KCACTF’s Design award in Region IV). He has also done work on three seasons of AMC’s television show “Turn,” the 2nd National Touring production of the Broadway hit In the Heights and two seasons of the PBS television series “Mercy Street.” Simmons has most recently been the Resident Costume Design Assistant at Long Wharf Theatre and also the Associate Designer for the Canadian production of Come From Away.

RYAN O'GARA Lighting Designer

Tour: A Night with Janis Joplin, Vocalocity, Walking Dead Experience, The Little Prince, and Cirque Du Soleil’s Paramour in Germany. Out of Shadowland (Disney Tokyo Sea). NY: NBCU upfront at Radio City Music Hall, Sanctuary, Tail! Spin!, Useless, Lady Day at the Little Shubert Theatre, The Mysterious Hat, Brazil Brazil, Knuckleheads Zoo and Black Violin at the New Victory Theatre, Michael Count’s Moses in Egypt for New York City Opera, Play/Date at Fat Baby plus The Ride, Andrea Thome’s Pinkolandia, Lourds Lane’s Chix 6, John Maran’s A Raw Space and A Strange and Separate People, Stephen Stahl’s Straight to Hell and Norman Doesmen, David Straussman’s Dummy plus various designs for The Sonnet Repertory Company, Lincoln Center Festival, NYU/Playwrights Horizons, Westbeth Theatre Center.

Regional: TUTS, Paper Mill Playhouse, Walnut Street Theatre, Drury Lane Chicago, Signature Theatre DC, Capital Repertory Theatre, Bucks County Playhouse, North Carolina Theatre, 15 productions at the Bristol Riverside Theatre, most recently Man of La Mancha (Barrymore Award). O’Gara has designed extensively in the dance world for American Ballet Theatre, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, MOMIX, gloATL, Ballet Hispanico, Ron DeJesus Dance, Cedar Lake Ensemble, Dance Works Chicago, Ballet Augsburg, Gauthier Dance, Neos Dance Theatre, Giordano Jazz Dance, Luna Negra Dance Theatre, Revolution at the Joyce Theatre and the Nike Rockstar Workout with Jamie King. On Broadway, he has served as the Associate Lighting Designer for Ain’t too Proud, Summer, Prince of Broadway, Come From Away, A Bronx Tale, Paramour, Hamilton, Dr. Zhivago, Honeymoon in Vegas, Bronx Bombers, After Midnight, A Christmas Story, Jesus Christ Superstar, Magic/Bird, How to Succeed…, Baby It’s You, Long Story Short, Lombardi, Million Dollar Quartet, All About Me, West Side Story, To Be or Not To Be, Cry-Baby, Gypsy, In the Heights, Xanadu, Love Musik and Avenue Q. O’Gara is a graduate of the School of Design and Production from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

SVEN ORTEL Projection Design

Sven grew up in Cologne, Germany, where he lit small-scale theatre shows after high school, complemented with lighting for movies, advertisements, and music videos.  His subsequent studies of theatrical lighting design in London led him to develop a keen interest in digital technologies and their potential for the live arts.

In 2001 he joined up with Dick Straker and his company mesmer to explore and further the use of imagery and projection in the live arts. For the National Theatre, London mesmer provided realization and design services for over 20 productions and established a video department which introduced technologies and techniques that have become de-facto standard today. Together with Straker he also conceived the video system and process that realized the technologically groundbreaking musical The Woman in White in the west end and Broadway in 2004.

In the last 17 years Ortel’s work has been seen all over the world. His range of collaborators comprises some of the most established and celebrated artists ranging from directors Michael Blakemore, Simon McBurney, Gregory Boyd, Matthias Hartman, Jonathan Kent, David Leveaux, Trevor Nunn, Deborah Warner, Bart Sher, Julie Taymor and Francesca Zambello to choreographer Helgi Tomasson, conductor Valery Gergiev and set designer George Tsypin.

With the UK company complicite, namely 2005‘s Measure For Measure and 2008‘s A Disappearing Number he achieved new degrees of integration between lighting, imagery, live video and physical sets. Both shows also toured world wide to universal acclaim. Other notable projects include Swan Lake for San Francisco Ballet, the re-staging of the Kirov Ring Cycle under maestro Valerie Gergiev in St.Petersburg, Russia and the Royal Opera House as well as the musical Rebecca in Austria, Switzerland and Germany, Disney’s Newsies at the Papermill Playhouse and Broadway, the off-Broadway production of Carrie and Julie Taymor’s Midsummer Night’s Dreamat TFANA’s new home in downtown Brooklyn.

Other Broadway design credits include Newsies, Jumpers, Faith Healer, Deuce, Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Woman On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown and Wonderland .

To foster the future of his profession, Sven mentors young projection designers, gives master classes and has created an online resource for projection design (www.projctn.com). Sven lives in Austin, TX where he leads the MFA program in Integrated Media for live performance at the University of Texas at Austin and continues to push the boundaries media integration and visual storytelling.

MIKAAL SULAIMAN Sound Designer

Originally from Rochester New York, currently resides in Los Angeles working primarily as a sound designer and composer. He attended the University of the Arts receiving a BFA and later studied the Jacque Lecoq approach to avant-garde theatre at the London International School of Performing Arts. Mikaal also writes and directs from time to time. He is currently writing and devising a new headphone play titled Project Black Plague. PBP has received artist residencies at Space on Ryder Farm in upstate New York, UCross Foundation in Wyoming, as well as VoxFest at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Mikaal’s sound design credits on world premiere shows include: Rags Parkland (Ars Nova; Lucille Lortel Award winner), Fairview (Soho Rep; Pulitzer Prize winner for Drama), Underground Railroad Game (Ars Nova; Obie Award winner). He has received nominations from Bay Area Theatre Critics, Audelco Award, Lucille Lortel Award, and Drama Desk Award for sound design.