‘Grace,’ Musical About Gentrification, Preparing For Worldwide Debut With Industry Readings (EXCLUSIVE)

Edgewood founder Dale A. Mott and NEWorks Productions announced that two industry readings of the upcoming musical “Grace” will be held on Aug. 24 at Alvin Ailey Studios.

“Grace” celebrates the little-told history of African American culinary traditions and the challenges Black-owned businesses faced in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods. A Philadelphia family, The Mintons, gather to mourn the loss of their matriarch and cope with the future of their family’s cherished restaurant, Minton’s Place. The restaurant is home to a century of classic African American dishes, but a swiftly changing neighborhood is putting the future at stake.

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The cast for the reading will feature Lawrence Cummings as Minton Family Member, David Hughley as Paul, Lacretta as Haley, Rayshun LaMarr as Minton Family Member, Kevin McCallister as E.J., Nova Payton as Ruthie and Awa Sal Secka as Minton Family Member and Virginia Ann Woodruff as Miss Minnie.

The original musical is written and composed by Nolan Williams, Jr. and is directed and choreographed by Robert Barry Fleming. The presentations are being managed by Alchemy Production Group. Randy Adams and Sue Frost serve as consulting producers for the presentation. Orchestrations are by Joseph Joubert. Dramaturgy is by Martine Kei Green-Rogers. Sheldon Epps serves as a creative consultant. Sheila C. Johnson and chef Carla Hall serve as hospitality and culinary ambassadors.

“The rich imagery of food born of our hardship and turned into culinary genius by pioneering Black chefs and caterers such as Robert Bogle and Henry Minton spoke to me, Williams said. I heard these giants’ voices and was inspired to imbue their legacies into Grace.”

“Grace” was originally performed in 2016 during the 53rd Grand Boule of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, the nation’s largest Greek-letter fraternity founded by African American men. Workshop residencies were presented at Cleveland Play House’s New Ground Theatre Festival in 2017 and 2018 and at the Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, Ky., in 2020. “Grace” was an official selection for the 44th Annual Humana Festival of New American Plays but was canceled just before the scheduled opening because of COVID.

“Grace” will be produced by Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., with performances March 18-May 14, 2022. Member pre-sale is Oct. 12-14, 2021. Public on-sale is October 18, 2021.

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