MCC THEATER ANNOUNCES COMPLETE CASTING AND TICKETS ON SALE FOR WORLD PREMIERE OF JOCELYN BIOH’S “NOLLYWOOD DREAMS”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, PLEASE
ANNOUNCES COMPLETE CASTING FOR
WORLD PREMIERE OF
BY JOCELYN BIOH
DIRECTED BY SAHEEM ALI
PREVIEWS BEGIN MARCH 19TH
OPENING NIGHT SET FOR APRIL 13TH
TICKETS ON SALE TODAY
New York, NY (February 13, 2020) – MCC Theater (Bob LuPone, Bernie Telsey, Will Cantler, Artistic Directors; Blake West, Executive Director) announced today the complete casting for the World Premiere of Nollywood Dreams by Jocelyn Bioh (MCC Theater’s Burnt Umber Playwright-In-Residence) with direction by Saheem Ali.
The cast will feature Charlie Hudson, III (A Raisin in the Sun), Outer Critics Circle and Lortel Award nominee Nana Mensah (Man From Nebraska), Sandra Okuboyejo (Hamilton, Chicago), Ade Otukoya (“Shades of Blue”), Emana Rachelle (“Insecure”), and Zenzi Williams (MCC’s School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play)
Nollywood Dreams begins performances on Thursday, March 19th, 2020, in the Newman Mills Theater at The Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space (511 West 52nd Street), with official opening night set for Monday, April 13th. Tickets go on sale today. Tickets are available at www.mcctheater.org.
Nollywood Dreams marks Bioh’s return to MCC Theater, and debut at the Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space, after the 2017 premiere and 2018 remount of her critically acclaimed play, School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play. Bioh’s School Girls… has gone on to dozens of productions across the country and was aired on PBS’s “Theater Close-Up” this past summer.
Playwright Jocelyn Bioh says, “I was inspired to write Nollywood Dreams as a love letter to the African films of my youth and to an industry I’m crazy enough to love and work in: show business. It’s such a classic story but with a culturally specific spin that like School Girls, I hope audiences will enjoy, learn from and connect with the universality of the story.”
MCC Theater Co-Artistic Director Will Cantler says, “After the enormous success of School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play, we’re delighted to welcome back Jocelyn Bioh. Jocelyn writes comedy with enormous heart, and Nollywood Dreams is no exception. This time her rom-com dives in to the hopes and dreams inspired by the Nigerian film industry – the world’s second biggest with over 1,500 films made each year. We’ve admired Saheem Ali’s directing for several years now, so it’s a thrill to welcome him to MCC at the helm of Jocelyn’s total treat of a play.”
It’s the 1990s and in Lagos, Nigeria, the Nollywood film industry is exploding and taking the world by storm. Ayamma (Sandra Okuboyejo) dreams of stardom while working at her parents’ travel agency alongside her lovable and celebrity-obsessed sister Dede (Nana Mensah). When Ayamma lands an audition for a new film by Gbenga Ezie (Charlie Hudson, III), Nigeria’s hottest director, she comes head-to-head with Gbenga’s former leading lady, Fayola (Emana Rachelle). Tensions flare just as sparks start flying between Ayamma, the aspiring ingénue, and Wale (Ade Otukoya), Nollywood’s biggest heartthrob, in this hilarious new play about dreaming big.
The creative team includes scenic design by Arnulfo Maldonado, costume design by Dede Ayite, lighting design by David Weiner, sound design by Palmer Hefferan, projection design by Alex Basco Koch, and casting by Telsey + Company/ William Cantler, CSA, Destiny Lilly, CSA. The Production Stage Manager is Alyssa Howard.
Nollywood Dreams is supported, in part, by MCC’s Bonnie Cashin Costume Design Fund, The Laurents/Hatcher Foundation, and by public funds from The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the city council.
Jocelyn Bioh is MCC Theater’s Burnt Umber Playwright-In-Residence. This residency was established at MCC to give a playwright a multi-year home base where they are an integral part of the theater’s institutional culture and to provide resources and space to develop new work for production. The program is funded by Burnt Umber Productions, headed by Judi Krupp and Bill Gerber.
Charlie Hudson, III (Gbenga). Broadway: A Raisin in the Sun. Off-Broadway: (A)loft Modulation (American Vicarious), Hurt Village (Signature). Regional: King Hedley II, A Raisin in the Sun, Seven Guitars (Two Rivers Theater); Detroit ’67 (Playmakers Rep); The Mountaintop (Northern Stage); Father Comes Home from the Wars (ART); Clybourne Park, Beneatha’s Place (Baltimore Centerstage); Fences (Virginia Stage Company); The Piano Lesson (Yale Rep); Master Harold and The Boys (Portland Stage Company); Fly (Crossroads Theater/Vineyard Playhouse); Richard III, Cyrano de Bergerac (Trinity Rep); Mother Courage (Public Theater/NYSF); Threepenny Opera (Williamstown Theatre Festival). Television: “Manifest” (NBC), “The Night Of” (HBO), “Shades of Blues” (NBC), “The Good Fight” (CBS), “Unforgettable” (CBS), “Forever” (ABC), The Rosa Parks Story (CBS), A Raisin in the Sun “Revisited” (PBS). Film: Roxanne, Roxanne; Complete Unknown; Twelve; Newlyweeds; Lillian. Training: Alabama State University and Brown University/Trinity Repertory Consortium. I’m blessed for my family’s love and support.
Nana Mensah (Dede) is a Ghanaian-American writer and actor. She featured in Tracy Letts’s Man from Nebraska (dir. David Cromer), a performance that was nominated for 2017 Lucille Lortel and Outer Critics’ Circle Awards. Other credits include CBS All Access’s “The Good Fight,” CBS’s “Madam Secretary,” “Elementary,” and “Evil,” seasons 3 and 4 of Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why,” Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black,” and NBC’s “New Amsterdam.” She originated the role of Sade in the hit series “An African City.” Upcoming: Judd Apatow’s The King of Staten Island, A24’s After Yang starring Colin Farrell, and Apple+’s anthology series “Little America.”
Sandra Okuboyejo (Ayamma) is thrilled to be making her MCC debut with this incredible cast and creative team. This actor and composer/lyricist hails from Brooklyn, NY. Theater: Hamilton Chicago (U/S Eliza, Angelica and Peggy). TV: “Tommy” on CBS (upcoming). Many thanks to God, my family and friends, KMR, Perennial entertainment, and Telsey&Co. Sandra graduated from Pace University with a BFA in Musical Theater in 2018. Updates available at sandraokuboyejo.com and @sandraokuboyejo. Love, always.
Ade Otukoya (Wale Owusu) Is making his MCC Theater debut. Originally from Brooklyn, NY, graduate of The Stella Adler Studio of Acting. Regional Theatre: Gem of The Ocean by August Wilson (The Hangar Theatre), King Henry IV Part 1 (The Pearl Theatre Company), A Taste of Honey (The Pearl Theatre Company), A Raisin in the Sun—directed by Phylicia Rashad (Westport Country Playhouse), Kings of Harlem (St Luke’s Theatre), King Henry IV Part 1 & 2 in rep (The Shakespeare Theatre D.C). TV: “Shades of Blue” starring Jennifer Lopez and Ray Liotta (NBC), “High Maintenance” (HBO), “Little America (Apple TV+), “ABC Div Showcase” (ABC). Upcoming: “Dickinson” (Apple TV+). Film: Premature (Sundance Premier IFC Studios), Here One Minute (Amazon Prime). Upcoming: Milkwater.
Emana Rachelle (Fayola) is excited to make her Off-Broadway debut at MCC. Theatre: In The Name Of (Ensemble); Exit, Pursued by a Bear (Nan); Race (Susan); The Beaux’ Stratagem (Cherry); Clybourne Park (Francine/Lena); Ruined (Sophie); Soweto, Soweto, Soweto: A Township is Calling! (Ensemble), and international tours in South Africa and Holland. TV/New Media: “Insecure” (HBO), “#LoveMyRoomie” (YháWright Productions), and “30 Rock’ (NBC). MFA, West Virginia University. BFA, NYU-Tisch. Emana performs improv and stand-up comedy around New York City. She would not be here without the love and support of Granny, Mom, Brandon, & De. Follow her on Instagram: @emanarachelle
Zenzi Williams (Adenikeh) is ecstatic to be back at MCC! Her credits include, Broadway: The Crucible. Off-Broadway: runboyrun (NYTW), Lockdown (Rattlestick), School Girls (MCC Theater), Henry V (The Public), The Homecoming Queen (Atlantic Theater Company), Mother Courage and Her Children (Classic Stage Company). Regional: Imogen Says Nothing (Yale Repertory Theatre). Film & TV: “Chicago Fire,” “Blue Bloods,” “The Good Fight,” “The Defenders,” “Daredevil,” Black Panther, The Mess He Made. She received her MFA from Yale School of Drama, has a BA in theater from Temple University, and studied at BADA.
ABOUT MCC THEATER
MCC Theater is one of New York’s leading nonprofit Off-Broadway companies, driven by a mission to provoke conversations that have never happened and otherwise never would. Founded in 1986 as a collective of artists leading peer-based classes to support their own development as actors, writers and directors, the tenets of collaboration, education and community are at the core of MCC Theater’s programming. One of the only theaters in the country led continuously by its founders, Artistic Directors Bob LuPone, Bernie Telsey and Will Cantler, MCC fulfills its mission through the production of world, American, and New York premiere plays and musicals that challenge artists and audiences to confront contemporary personal and social issues, and robust playwright development and education initiatives that foster the next generation of theater artists and students.
MCC Theater’s celebrated productions include Jocelyn Bioh’s School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play; Theresa Rebeck’s Seared, Penelope Skinner’s The Village Bike; Robert Askins’ Hand to God (Broadway transfer; five 2015 Tony Award® nominations including Best Play); John Pollono’s Small Engine Repair; Paul Downs Colaizzo’s Really Really; Sharr White’s The Other Place (Broadway transfer); Jeff Talbott’s The Submission (Laurents/Hatcher Award); Neil LaBute’s Reasons to Be Happy, reasons to be pretty (Broadway transfer, three 2009 Tony Award® nominations, including Best Play), Some Girl(s), Fat Pig, The Mercy Seat, and All The Ways To Say I Love You; Michael Weller’s Fifty Words; Alexi Kaye Campbell’s The Pride; Bryony Lavery’s Frozen (Broadway transfer; four 2004 Tony Award® nominations including Best Play, Tony Award® for Best Featured Actor); Tim Blake Nelson’s The Grey Zone; Rebecca Gilman’s The Glory of Living (2002 Pulitzer Prize finalist); Margaret Edson’s Wit (1999 Pulitzer Prize); and the musicals The Wrong Man, Alice By Heart, Coraline, Carrie, and Ride the Cyclone. Many plays developed and produced by MCC have gone on to productions throughout the country and around the world.
Blake West joined the company in 2006 as Executive Director. MCC opened the doors to its new home in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, The Robert W. Wilson MCC Theater Space, on January 9, 2019, unifying the company’s activities under one roof for the first time and expanding its producing, artist development, and education programming.
ABOUT THE ROBERT W. WILSON CHARITABLE TRUST
A successful investor from the 1960s through the 1980s, Robert W. Wilson devoted his life to philanthropy after his retirement, focusing on supporting organizations on preservation and conservation initiatives worldwide. An avid New Yorker, Wilson was also deeply engaged with a number of New York’s cultural institutions. He was a major supporter of, and held leadership roles with, the Whitney Museum and the Metropolitan Opera, where he was a board member for many years. In addition, the Trust continues to support the New York Public Library, Central Park Conservancy, BAM, Wildlife Conservation Society, EDF, Nature Conservancy, WMF, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, organizations he championed during his lifetime. He played a leading role in transforming many of these institutions.
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