Actress Phylicia Rashad attends The Public Theater’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost” Opening Nght at Delacorte Theater on August 12, 2013 in New York City
*Stage and screen star Phylicia Rashad slipped into the director’s chair on Sunday to help commemorate a historic moment that helped spur the civil rights movement.
The Tony Award-winning actress directed a reading of the play “Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963″ at the Kennedy Center Sunday to mark the 50th anniversary of the bombing at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala. Four girls were killed in the explosion, which was set by white supremacists and helped spur passage of landmark civil rights legislation.
Rashad, best known for her portrayal as the matriarch on “The Cosby Show,” said she wanted the reading to emphasize the “sanctity of joy, human existence and the value of all life.”
The play was written by Christina Ham and starred students from Howard University and the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C.
Rashad, an alumna of Howard University, said acting and directing are both challenging and rewarding. In her role as director, Rashad said she works to keep the creative energy in line with the writer’s vision, “while leaving room for people to add to the vision in a collaborative effort.”
View a promo of the project below.
*Tickets are available to see Smokey Robinson perform at the historic Kennedy Center in Washington next month as part of the 2012 Performance Series of Legends benefit concert for DC’s Duke Ellington School of the Arts.
Founded in 1974, the high school is the only one inside the Beltway that offers pre-professional arts training and college preparation. It serves more than 500 students and has maintained a 98% graduation rate over the past 35 years.
Past artists who have participated in the Performance Series of Legends include Dave Chappelle, Denyce Graves, Stevie Wonder and Earth Wind &Fire.
“These artists’ willingness to give back their time, resources and inspiration through this Performance Series provides Duke Ellington students with valuable exposure and customized artistic direction,” states Head of School/CEO Rory Pullens. “Their contributions have also provided a source of revenue that allows us to continue our important mission of providing arts education excellence to deserving students who wouldn’t otherwise have this opportunity.”
The concert will take place on Saturday, March 3 at 7:30 pm in the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall. General ticket sales (from $50 -$150) will be available at the Kennedy Center Box Office or at www.kennedy-center.org. VIP tickets are available for $500 at the office of the Ellington Fund. Benefit sponsorship packages are available from $2,500 to $100,000. Contact the Ellington Fund at 202-333-2555 or firstname.lastname@example.org for both.
*”Private Practice” star Audra McDonald and Tonya Pinkins of Caroline, or Change are among the Broadway stars set to perform at tonight’s “A Broadway Celebration: In Performance at the White House.”
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host the 7 p.m. concert that will be filmed for an Oct. 20 broadcast on PBS as part of the White House’s “In Performance” concert series.
McDonald (Ragtime, Master Class) and Pinkins (Caroline, or Change, Jelly’s Last Jam) will be joined tonight by Idina Menzel (Wicked) Nathan Lane (Guys & Dolls, The Addams Family), and songwriter Marvin Hamlisch (A Chorus Line, Sweet Smell of Success) as well as Brian d’Arcy James (Next to Normal), Chad Kimball (Memphis) and Karen Olivo (West Side Story).
Also performing is young actress Assata Alston and the Joy of Motion Dance Center ensemble.
A 2 p.m. dress rehearsal was to feature students from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and the Joy of Motion Dance Center, who are set to perform a number from Hairspray directed by Tony-winning choreographer Jerry Mitchell.