Casting is complete for New York Theatre Workshop and National Black Theatre's co-production of Grammy nominee Somi Kakoma's Dreaming Zenzile. Previews for the new work begin May 17 at New York Theatre Workshop with opening night set for June 1. The run is scheduled through June 26.
The musical is based on the life of South African music artist and civil rights activist Miriam Makeba, delving into her work and the ways she connected with people in the moment and the ancestors who called to her.
The cast will be led by Kakoma as Miriam Makeba with Aaron Marcellus, Naledi Masilo, and Phumzile Sojola as Sangoma Chorus. Additional casting will be announced at a later date.
Also featured will be the production's band, including Toru Dodo on piano, Pathé Jassi on bass, Hervé Samb on guitar, and Sheldon Thwaites on percussion; the musicians will play original music as well as interpretations of Makeba's catalog.
Director Lileana Blain-Cruz heads a creative team that also includes scenic designer Riccardo Hernandez, costume designer Mimi Plange, lighting designer Yi Zhao, sound designer Justin Ellington, projection designer Hannah Wasileski, choreographer Marjorie Forté-Saunders, dramaturg Talvin Wilks, and music director Hervé Samb. Abigail jean-baptiste is the associate director, and Egypt Dixon is the stage manager.
For the Culture affinity events have also been announced for select performances, including Black Theatre Night in partnership with Black Boys Do Theatre May 25, Black Theatre Night in partnership with Black Girls Do Theatre June 7, Apollo Night in partnership with the Apollo Theater June 16, and Open Street: Open Mic June 23 in partnership with Poetic Theatre Productions, FABnyc.
Kakoma has also released a companion album to the show titled Zenzile: The Reimagination of Miriam Makeba.
CHEAPTIX performances have been announced for May 17-18. CHEAPTIX is NYTW's affordable ticket program developed to open up access to the surrounding community and those with income limitations. CHEAPTIX rush tickets and free tickets through an initiative aimed at theatre community members who lost work during the pandemic will also be available.
The world premiere brings together seven producers: Octopus Theatricals, National Black Theatre, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, McCarter Theatre Center, Arts Emerson, Apollo Theater, and New York Theatre Workshop.