The Classical Theatre of Harlem (CTH) is gearing up for a pretty awesome holiday musical called The First Noel featuring traditional holiday music – original and classic – with a gospel, jazz and pop flare. It’s where the holidays meets the historic Harlem (New York) on the main stage at the staple Apollo Theater December 10-18 as a part of “Holidays at the Apollo.”
“The Apollo has supported the development of The First Noel for many years, and we are proud to present this [magnificent] musical on our mainstage following its hit run on our soundstage last season,” Apollo Theater’s Executive Producer Kamilah Forbes says. “The creative team [brilliantly] mixes musical genres to tell a story of family and hope that deepens our commitment to fostering musical innovation and to presenting works that engage our entire community and resonates across generations.”
The First Noel follows the story of three generations who, though facing adversities, project an inspiring image of love and family – much like the recent story of the Classical Theatre of Harlem. We spoke with the CTH’s producing artistic director Ty Jones for a background and feel of the show, and it turns out, the idea for the seasonal production came about during financial hardship for the community organization.
“I took over because I did not want this [not for profit] company to go away,” Jones said. “I was thinking of how we could create our own earned income and I was thinking of a holiday show.
Jones pulled from his own experience in theater and found that Christmas carols usually help fund theaters for the following year. When he noticed Harlem didn’t have a consistent offering, he tapped Lelund Durond Thomason & Jason Michael Webb to create “something like the 21st century Dickens.”
Press play above for bits of our convo with Ty Jones on top of a preview of The First Noel!
The First Noel Performance Schedule:
Saturday, December 10 at 7:30pm
Sunday, December 11 at 5pm early evening
Monday, December 12 (DARK)
Tuesday, December 13 at 7:30pm (OPENING NIGHT)
Wednesday, December 14 at 2pm matinee
Wednesday, December 14 at 7:30pm
Thursday, December 15 at 7:30pm
Friday, December 16 at 7:30pm
Saturday, December 17 at 2pm matinee
Saturday, December 17 at 7:30pm
Sunday, December 18 at 2pm matinee
Tickets are on sale now at The Apollo Theater Box Office (253 West 125th Street in New York City) and ticketmaster.com. For more information, visit apollotheater.org/firstnoel.
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The First Noel Crew:
Cast: Brian D. Coats (as Skeeter; Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom),Tina Fabrique (as Grandmother Ethel;Ragtime; Bring In Da Noise, Bring In Da Funk),Ashley Ware Jenkins (as Noel; The Color Purple national tour), Donald King Jr (as Benny Raindrop),Lizan Mitchell (as Lou; So Long on Lonely Street),Ken Robinson (as Henry; 2015 revival,The Color Purple),Soara-Joye Ross (as Deloris;Les Misérables), withNia Caesar andZariah Singletary as Young Noel.
Ensemble: James Alexander, Angela Birchett, Jesse Corbin,Darius Crenshaw, Tamara Jade Fingal, Ayana George, LaTrisa A. Harper, Adam Hyndman,Sarita Amani Nash, Drew Shade, Chawntá Marie Van, Tiffany Webb and Helen White.
Design Team: Dan Robinson (scenic design), Rachel Dozier-Ezell (costume design), Alan C. Edwards(lighting design), and Curtis Craig (sound and projection design).
Book, Music & Lyrics: Lelund Durond Thomason & Jason Michael Webb
Director: Steve H. Broadnax III
Musical Director: Andrew Lederman
Choreographer: Brian Harlan Brooks