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Monday, August 1, 2016

Crossroads Theatre Company’s 2016-17 Season Resonates Thematically as ‘a Woman’s Gift’ in Four New and Reprised Productions






NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Crossroads Theatre Company will pay homage to the power, glory and struggles of women both famous and not in its upcoming 2016-17 season announced by Producing Artistic Director Marshall Jones III.

“As we fine-tuned our selection of plays for this season, the thematic power of ‘a woman’s gift’ was omnipresent in all four productions,” said Jones. “From the ultimate gift of the Virgin Mary to Harriet Tubman’s gift of freedom; from Sarah Vaughan’s vocal gifts to the resilience of contemporary black women, this season stands as a testimony to womanhood.”

The season opens Oct. 6-23 (opening night is Oct. 8) with a new production of the 2006 two-woman, off-Broadway show, Single Black Female, by Lisa Thompson. Rapid-fire comic vignettes explore the lives of 30-something middle-class African American women in urban America as they search for love, clothes and dignity. The New York Times called it “a socially significant and very entertaining two-woman show that manages to be simultaneously self-deprecating and proud.” Shirley Jo Finney returns to Crossroads to direct.

Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity will return to Crossroads for the holiday season, Dec. 9-18 (opening night is Dec. 10). Originally produced off-Broadway in 1961 and at Crossroads in 1985, Black Nativity retells the story of Mary and the birth of Jesus with a black cast, featuring both traditional Christmas carols and original music sung in gospel style. The staging infuses ritual, African dance and storytelling to recreate the classic Nativity.

Crossroads will mark Black History Month Feb. 9-19 (opening night is Feb. 11) with Harriet Tubman: I See Freedom, by Keisha Spence. The work tells the story of the famed abolitionist from a modern perspective set n the Harriet Tubman Retirement Home. Jones will direct this world premiere.

The final stage production will be the world premiere of Stephanie Berry’s Sarah Sings a Love Song, March 9-26 (opening night is March 11) which tells the story of the famed Sarah Vaughan’s career through a middle-aged couple who are her adoring fans.

Two separate presentations of Crossroads’ annual Genesis Festival of new plays will feature works-in-progress by established and emerging playwrights. Social Justice will be theme of the first presentation on Friday, Nov. 4. The second Genesis Festival will conclude the season in May with dates to be announced.

Jones said the season’s mainstage selections reflect the words of four legendary, late black female artists:

"The greatest gift is not being afraid to question."— Ruby Dee

"A woman's gifts will make room for her."— Hattie McDaniel

"We are all gifted. That is our inheritance."— Ethel Waters

Founded in 1978 by Ricardo Khan and L. Kenneth Richardson, Crossroads Theatre Company embraces the vision that African-American theater is intended for a broad-based, diverse audience. As a major force in the development of new ideas and the introduction of formerly marginalized writers, Crossroads produces works that enrich and diversify the representation of African American culture on the American stage. Crossroads was the winner of the 1999 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theater in the United States.

Tickets for Crossroads Theatre Company can be purchased online at crossroadstheatrecompany.org or by calling 732-545-8100. The theater is located at 7 Livingston Ave., New Brunswick.

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