“Finding Harlem Dawn” Team Bios

Book, Concept, Lyrics by Ano Okera
Music by Billy White

Billy White is a composer, pianist, educator, producer and Ethnomusicologist.  Born in San Francisco, he concentrated in jazz studies as UCLA with Kenny Burrell.  While winning several awards and scholarships, such as the David A. Abell Piano Award and the Duke Ellington Award, he took advantage of UCLA’s incredible Ethnomusicology program, which  allowed him to study many global genres of music., such as Indian Classical, Chinese Silk-and-Bamboo, Brazilian and Latin Jazz.  While in school, he also co-founded the hip hop/world group BOKU with actor/rapper Jo D Jonz, which performed extensively in LA, headlining at the House of Blues in 2004 and 2005.  He also played with the Parisian jazz/hip hop group Heezbus, fronted by Universal France artists Hugh Coltman and Spleen.  Last year, Billy released his debut as a leader, “First Things First“, on Porto Franco Records, a modern jazz record featuring saxophonist Dayna Stephens and Blue Note trumpet star Ambrose Akinmusire, which was called “impressive” in the March issue of Downbeat magazine among many other strong reviews.  He has also worked extensively as a soul and R&B keyboardist,  backing up Grammy-nominated performers like Bilal and Maiysha, and touring Morocco with jazz/soul singer Wallace Gary.   His music can be heard in films such as Marc Cantone’s award-winning “Bowling Blind“, and Jo D. Jonz’ “Fifteen Minutes of Fame“, as well as on  television shows like Keeping up With the Kardashians, and the Brooks Brothers website.   White has performed Ethnomusicology fieldwork in Ghana, Morocco, Nicaragua and New Orleans.  He is also currently the musical director at New Journey Baptist church in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

Directed by Elyzabeth Gorman

Elyzabeth Gorman is currently directing Taming of the Shrew for Manhattan Shakespeare Project and is looking forward to Fairy Tale of America with EBE Ensemble.  Her world premieres include Caitlin Condy’s See Jane Run (Prospect Theatre Co.); Jennifer Lane’s Does Anyone Know Sarah Paisner? (Intravenous Theatre Co.); and Michael Niederman’s To Barcelona! (Ignited States Production Co.), Every Man (’07 Samuel French Festival Winner), and Don’t Drink and F*ck (Crosstown Playwrights). Other favorite productions include Caitlin Condy’s Little Wing (NY Int’l Fringe Festival); Anthony Clarvoe’s The Living (Stone Soup Theater); and an outdoor production of Shakespeare’s Henry IV in Prospect Park, produced by Rebellious Subjects.  She is a proud member of the Lincoln Center Director’s Lab and the Artistic Cabinet of Rebel Theater Co.


CAST

LANGSTON BEAUFORT- K’Yino Cunningham
Kyino Cunningham is a multi-talented singer/songwriter, dancer and dancer who holds a joint first class undergraduate degree in Theatre and Cultural Studies from the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Campus and the Edna Manley College. His stage skills have been transferred to the big screen where he was cast for the independent film “Candy Shop,” which had its premiere at the Flashpoint Film Festival in Port Royal, Jamaica. He also played a lead role in the documentary “Norman Manley Video for Change”. Stage credits include: “Taming of the Shrew”,  “Dreams of Home”, “Woyzeck” and Trevor Rhone’s “Positive”.

BILLY PERRIER- Almerica Campbell

Almeria Campbell is currently doing a One Woman Show, Warriors Don’t Cry with the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, in Connecticut. In May of this year, she’ll be in the production of Baltimore in Black and White at the Cell Theatre. She’s appeared in Law and Order C.I., Baby Mama and several commercials and voice over’s. She’s excited to be reading the part of Billy in Finding Harlem Dawn.

VINCENT ‘JELLY’ MARTIN- Kaolin Bass

Kaolin Bass is happy to be working with the amazing team of  “Finding Harlem Dawn”. He received his BFA from Adelphi University and his MFA form the ART/XMAT Program at Harvard University. Theatre credits include “Much Ado About Nothing” with the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, “Snow in June” at the American Repertory Theater, “Lonesome”, “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, “Three Sisters”, “Tom Cruise”, “Get Off the Couch” in Ireland and “Generic Hispanic”. TV Credits include “Ugly Betty”, “Primetime” and “As the World Turns”. Kaolin is a proud member of the Emerging Artist Theatre Company and  AEA.

MOYA WASHINGTON- McKenzie Frye

McKenzie Frye is a Detroit, MI native and Howard University graduate with a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre. Ms. Frye’s Off Broadway/Regional credits include: WIG OUT!, RIVER DEEP, ABK For Life, DAMN YANKEES, DREAMGIRLS, CROWNS, and The Kennedy Center’s production of HARRIET’S RETURN starring Debbie Allen, as well as, work at New York City’sacclaimed Public Theatre; and featured choreography in the New York Fringe Festival. Her Film and TV credits include “Dreaming inTears,” “In Retrospect (choreography credit),” “My Brother,” “Life Lines,” “Law and Order, ” Law and Order: SVU,” AND “Law and Order: Criminal Intent.” She currently serves as a collaborating artist in residence with Gabrielle Lansner and Company, and is co-creator of the multi-media performance piece BLACKGIRL UGLY; a spoken word, movement and mixed media performance piece that is dedicated to taking an honest look at media influences that encourage the development of unhealthy self esteem in young women. In doing so, BLACKGIRL UGLY resolves to explore the choice to nurture one’s self through artistic outlets. Ms. Frye is also in the process of completing her first book of poetry and prose that she hopes will encourage positive thinking, healthy self expression and the pursuit of spiritual success.” McKenzie looks forward to continued contributions to the arts as a performer, writer and source of positive motivation.

OLD CLAUDE McKAY- Chike Johnson

Chiké Johnson was last seen on stage in Court Theatre’s production of Sizwe Banzi is Dead in Chicago IL.  He was also seen in the Manhattan Theatre Club’s Off- Broadway production of Ruined.  Some of his other credits include Steppenwolf’s The Crucible, The Unmentionables and Huckfinn.  Some Regional credits include: a revival of The Unmentionables at Yale Repertory Theatre; Lincoln in Topdog/Underdog at Renaissance Theaterworks; Duke of Cornwall in King Lear at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre; Cephus Miles in Home at Intandem Theatre; Willie in Master Harold and the Boys at Chamber Theatre; and Martin Luther King Jr. in Smoldering Fires at First Stage Children’s Theatre.  His TV credits include: Law & Order, Law & Order SVU, the “Bucket Guy” for Verizon High Speed Internet commercials, Prison Break on Fox Network.  Films credits include: Ass Backwards, Friends with Benefits, The Machinist and El Traje. Chiké is originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and shares life with beautiful wife, Malkia, and their three wonderful children, Kwasi, Nafia and Zaria.

OLD JUANITA LOVE- Malkia Stampley-Johnson

Malkia is delighted and honored to a part of “Finding Harlem Dawn.” A  performing artist, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Malkia attended Marquette University for Theatre Arts and studied as intern and Resident Artist with Milwaukee Repertory Theatre and Skylight Opera Theatre. Favorite theatre credits include: Japan Disney Tour of Disney on Classic: Lion King (Nala); Raisin (Beneatha) Court Theatre; Dreamgirls (Lorrell) St. Louis Black Repertory Theatre (Winner of Woody King Jr. Award, Best Supporting Actress); Black Nativity (Darfur Mary) Congo Square Theatre; The Talented Tenth (Pam) Congo Square Theatre. Malkia currently has several tv commercial campaigns running with Allstate, Jeep and Office Depot. TV/Film credits: TV pilot, Illuminati Brothers (role: Agent Kline, Winner of Best Comedy in NYTF); and several short films. Malkia is currently playing Baptista/Grumio in Manhattan Shakespeare Project’s all female production of Taming of the Shrew, directed by Elyzabeth Gorman. Malkia shares her life with partner, Chike, and their three children.

GRANDMA/WHITE CHOCOLATE MUNROE and OTHERS- Emily Stockdale

Emily Stockdale is a senior BFA Musical Theater major at Pace University.  Recent roles include: Sally Bowles in Pace University’s production of Cabaret, Medium/Aunt in See What I Wanna See, Evelyn Nesbit in Ragtime, and Mayzie laBird in Seussical at the Weathervane Repertory Theater.  Emily will graduate in May from Pace and is so excited to be a part of this process!

DIAMOND/OTHERS- Harold Lewter

Broadway: Irish Rep’s Brigadoon (Shubert Theatre) New York: Kiss of the Spider Woman (Vortex Theatre), George M! (Flushing Townhall Stage), Freedom Train (TheatreWorks USA) Regional: A Chorus Line, Guy’s and Dolls, Godspell, The Wiz, Woyzeck, Hot L Baltimore, West Side Story, Columbus, A Winter’s Tale, Good Woman of Setzuan. TV: Cashmere Mafia (ABC) and Last of the Ninth. Film: Sweet Lorraine.

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About blackboardplays

Familiar with the collectives for poets and other Black writers that had been created over the years and slightly envious of that sense of community, I became curious about a similar place for playwrights. I wanted to see Black playwrights, actors and directors excited over each others work and supporting each other. I was longing for a “home” as a Black playwright and wanted to see other Black artists in that home, not to be exclusive, but because there was a void. I was also eager to find other Black playwrights who shared a passion for the craft of storytelling. The stories of the Black community are diverse and are often hidden behind the blockbuster stereotyped versions. The non-artistic Black community, not involved in the writing of these stories, is yearning to see themselves in our stories and it is apart of my life’s work to ensure that happens. the cell is any artists’ dream: a new space that supports you as you grow, committed to new work and the art. This allows the writer to focus on the craft - to focus on their story. Nancy Manocherian and Kira Simring welcomed this idea with open arms and instantly became apart of what we later called “Blackboard Reading Series”. Every reading will conclude a twenty minute talk-back with the audience. Dialogue with the community is essential to what we want to do with the series. As we grow, there may be more readings a month, play festivals and of course productions. We want to nurture and develop new black playwrights for this generation! Thank You! Garlia Cornelia Jones Founder, Blackboard Reading Series
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One Response to “Finding Harlem Dawn” Team Bios

  1. RVCBard says:

    This was a great reading, and I loved “Thank You, Crack.” Can’t wait to see Act 2.

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