In celebration of Black History Month 2010, The Working Theatre (Mark Plesent, Producing Director), is presenting award-winning Broadway star André De Shields performing his solo work-in-progress, "Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory: From Douglass to Deliverance," created and performed by André De Shields and directed by Alfred Preisser. The performances run from Thursday, February 4th through Sunday, February 14th at the Abingdon Theater. BroadwayWorld was on hand to take in the opening performance and capture the after party celebration.
With MINE EYES, De Shields seems to be trying to experience the "great awakening." The show is packed with energetic dances, heavy emotions and well known songs (such as When You Wish Upon A Star). What dominates the piece most, however, is his focus on Frederick Douglass, and the comparisons between Douglass and himself. Throughout the piece, De Shields transforms into Douglass before the audience's very eyes.
Says De Shields of "Mine Eyes": "In my performance, I explore the life and achievements of the Great Emancipator, Frederick Douglass. Douglass began his life as a slave, through heroic efforts, became one of America's most important and historically influential African American leaders."
De Shields was particular about the timing of the performances, choosing to perform in January and February as they host DR. Martin Luther King's birthday (01/19); the first anniversary of the inauguration of our first African-American President, Barack Obama (01/20); Abraham Lincoln's birthday (02/12) and the anniversary of Frederick Douglass' birth (02/1818).
André De Shields has appeared in numerous Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Regional productions as well as television and film. He recently starred in David Mamet's A Life in the Theatre at the ALLIANCE THEATRE in Atlanta. Most recently he appeared in The Public Theatre's production of Euripides' The Bacchae in Central Park and starred in The Classical Theatre of Harlem's production of Archbishop Supreme Tartuffe. On Broadway, he appeared in Impressionism as well as the original Broadway cast of The Wiz, Ain't Misbehavin' (Emmy Award), Play On!, The Fully Monty, and Prymate, among many others. He also conceived, co-wrote, directed, and starred in Haarlem Nocturne. This summer, he was presented with The National Black Theatre Festival's "Living Legend" Award. A two-time Tony Award nominee, he just won The VIV Award-- named after AUDELCO's founcer, Vivian Robinson-- for Outstanding Performance in a Musical by a Male for Archbishop Supreme Tartuffe, and won the coveted Obie Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance in 2007. His television credits include Cosby, Sex and the City, Law & Order, Lipstick Jungle, and Life on Mars.
Founded in 1985, The Working Theater's mission is to produce plays for and about working people. "We believe theater should not be a privilege or a luxury, but a staple," says Mark Plesent. "We want working people who may not be able to afford commercial theater or who feel that it does not resonate with their lives and experience, to make play-going a regular part of their cultural activities." Over the years, the company has commissioned and produced more than 70 world premieres of culturally diverse new plays; garnered widespread recognition and critical acclaim for writing, acting, directing, as well as their pioneering efforts in audience development.
André De Shields' Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory: From Douglass to Deliverance will run from February 4th through February 14th, 2010 at the Abingdon Theater, 312 West 36th Street. The performance schedule will be Wednesday through Saturday at 8pm with matinees on Saturday at 2pm and Sunday at 3pm. There is no performance Tuesday, February 9th; there will be a matinee on Wednesday, February 10th at 2pm. All tickets are $25 and can be ordered online at www.smarttix.com or by calling (212) 868-4444. For special group discounts call (212) 244-3300. www.theworkingtheatre.org.