Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Theater Project received grant from National Endowment for the Arts to produce musical

The award-winning professional company The Theater Project has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to produce the musical CROWNS at its home base in Maplewood’s Burgdorff Center for the Arts. Tickets, group rates and information are available at

CROWNS is a moving and celebratory musical play where the hats worn by African American church women become a springboard for an exploration of black history and
identity. The story is seen through the eyes of a young woman who travels down South to stay with her aunt after her brother is killed in Brooklyn; as she deals with her loss, she finds strength in learning about her roots. Gospel music, rap and dance underscore her story as she discovers the significance of her community’s cultural traditions in a colorful, energetic depiction of African-American life.

Originally produced in New York City with McCarter Theatre in association with Second Stage Theatre in 2002, CROWNS is based on the book by Michael Cunningham and Craig Marbury and adapted by Regina Taylor. Hailed as ‘an artful amalgamation of oral history, fashion show, and musical theatre’ by, the musical play is based on the book: Crowns. Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats.
The Theater Project had previously produced CROWNS in another location in 2010, so expectations are high. “We expect to raise the roof at each and every performance,” said artistic director Mark Spina. “The music in CROWNS makes you want to join right in – and people do!”

The production’s musical director is Gail Lou, an accomplished recording artist, actress, songwriter, and arranger. She performed off-Broadway as Lena Horne in MAMA I WANT TO SING and has received critical acclaim from the Grammy Committee for her recordings. The choreographer is Colleen Hawks, whose Broadway performance credits include SHREK, THE BOY FROM OZ, and SMOKEY JOE’S CAFÉ.

About The Theater Project (TTP):

Founded in 1994, The Theater Project presents its main stage season and children’s classes at the Burgdorff Cultural Center, 10 Durand Road, Maplewood, New Jersey.  TTP also maintains a strong presence in Cranford and Union, offering readings and events in several locations. For more information, visit

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