Ebony Repertory Theatre Presents Pulitzer Prize Finalist, Tony Nominated, ‘The Gospel at Colonus’

Roger Robinson will star as 'Oedipus' in the upcoming Ebony Repertory Theatre production, THE GOSPEL AT COLONUS.
Roger Robinson will star as ‘Oedipus’ in the upcoming Ebony Repertory Theatre production, THE GOSPEL AT COLONUS.


*Los Angeles, CA (April 24, 2015) Ebony Repertory Theatre (ERT – Founder/Producer Wren T. Brown) announced today that they will present the Pulitzer Prize Finalist and Tony Award-nominated production of “The Gospel at Colonus” starring Tony Award-winner Roger Robinson (Joe Turner’s Come and Gone) as Oedpius.

 The acclaimed production, conceived and adapted by Lee Breuer (Mabou Mines’ Trilogy) and music by Bob Telson (Lincoln Center Theater’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold), is a soul stirring dramatic-musical which takes place within the framework of a Pentecostal church service set against the tragic Greek background of the story of Oedipus at Colonus, in which the exiled king Oedipus seeks a place where he may be properly buried.  ERT’s production, directed by Andi Chapman (Actors Co-op’s Steel Magnolias – Drama-Logue Award for Outstanding Director), will commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the Los Angeles Premiere.

“Being afforded the opportunity to produce ‘The Gospel at Colonus’ is a dream come true. When I first saw ‘Colonus’ at the Doolittle Theatre in Hollywood (the first of nearly 10 visits to see the show), I was completely transfixed and transported by the pageantry, the gravity, and by the sheer urgent electricity coming from the stage,” said Ebony Repertory Theatre Founder/Producer Wren T. Brown. 

The show came beyond the footlights and grabbed me.  If one of our patrons walks through our doors and leaves as remotely impacted as I was three decades ago, our labor will not have been in vain. The journey from being an audience member in 1985, to producing the 30th anniversary of the first Los Angeles production, is truly an honor,” he concluded.

“It is my honor and joy to direct ‘The Gospel at Colonus’ with Ebony Repertory Theatre. Along with our wonderful production team, we have assembled a magnificent cast and design team for this extraordinary work,” added director Andi Chapman.

“The Gospel at Colonus examines the life of the mythical Oedipus the King through the powerful stained glass prism of the black Pentecostal Church. It is a thought-provoking celebration of the redemption of a man! Given the current events of today, it is my hope that all who enter our doors, even just for a moment, will not only be personally lifted out of the challenges of life, no matter the degree, but will soar in celebration, knowing that there is a light, and there is love at the end of the tunnel!” 

Roger Robinson, who stars as Oedipus in ‘The Gospel at Colonus’ said, “I am looking forward with great excitement to starting rehearsals for ‘The Gospel at Colonus’ – not only because it is a monumental piece of theater, but also because this production will mark the 30th anniversary of Lee Breuer’s masterpiece.”

‘The Gospel at Colonus’ marks Mr. Robinson’s third production with Ebony Repertory Theatre.  ERT credits include: August Wilson’s ‘Two Trains Running’ and Jeff Stetson’s ‘Fraternity’.  A celebrated Broadway actor, Mr. Robinson is in his sixth decade as a professional in the theater. In addition to his Tony Award-winning performance in ‘Joe Turner’s Come and Gone’, Mr. Robinson’s other Broadway credits include: ‘Drowning Crow’, ‘Seven Guitars’ (Tony nomination), ‘The Iceman Cometh’, ‘Amen-Corner-The Musical’, ‘Ain’t  Supposed to Die a Natural Death’, ‘The Miser’, and ‘Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie?’ He has acted in August Wilson’s ‘Jitney’ at London’s prestigious Royal National Theater, and in several off-Broadway productions beginning with ‘Walk In Darkness’, which was his NY theater debut in 1963.

The gospel musical will also feature Kim Staunton as Antigone.  Ms. Staunton appeared recently in Arthur Miller’s ‘Death of a Salesmen’ at South Coast Repertory and in the original Broadway Company of August Wilson’s ‘The Piano Lesson’.  She has been a guest company member at the Denver Center Theatre Company (DCTC) for the past thirteen seasons.  Kim represented the DCTC as an inaugural Lunt-Fontanne Fellow at Ten Chimneys Foundation.  She is a recipient of the Denver Post Ovation Award, Henry Award, and Westword’s Best of Denver.

The production also features Ellis Hall (affectionately known as, “The Ambassador of Soul”), as Singing Oedipus.  Mr. Hall is well known for his work with the magnetic soul sensations Tower of Power, where he was lead singer and keyboardist in the mid-1980s. In 1986 Ellis was the vocalist on ‘What Does It Take to Win Your Love,’ heard on Kenny G’s 5 time platinum debut album “Duo Tones.” He has performed with musical icons, including Stevie Wonder, George Benson, Herbie Hancock, Earth Wind & Fire, George Duke, Michael McDonald, Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), Brett Michaels, Billy Preston, John Mayer and his musical Mentor, Ray Charles.

The full cast and creative team for ‘The Gospel at Colonus’ will be announced at a later date.

In 1983, The Gospel at Colonus premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s “Next Wave Festival” starring Morgan Freeman as the Messenger.  The production had its Los Angeles premiere in 1985 at the Mark Taper Forum and that same year PBS televised the original Brooklyn Academy of Music production, starring Mr. Freeman, as presented by the American Music Theater Festival at the Annenberg Center in Philadelphia, as part of the Great Performances series.

It was later performed on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater in 1988 with Mr. Freeman reprising his role as the Messenger and for which Lee Breuer was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical.  The production received numerous awards and nominations, including a Pulitzer Prize Finalist for Drama in 1985, the Obie for Best Musical in 1984, and an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Directing (Kirk Browning) in A Variety or Music Program in 1986.

‘The Gospel at Colonus’ would go on to performances worldwide – Paris, Spoleto, Edinburgh, Moscow, Barcelona, London, Avignon. It was recreated for the 70th Anniversary of New York’s legendary Apollo Theater for two weeks in the fall of 2004 starring Charles S. Dutton and Jevetta Steele.

Ebony Repertory Theatre (ERT), now in its eighth year, is the resident company and operator of the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center.  ERT is Los Angeles’ only African American professional theatre company (Actors Equity Contract).  Under Wren T. Brown’s producorial leadership, ERT has produced Ovation Award and NAACP Theatre Award-winning productions of August Wilson’s ‘Two Trains Running’ and Lorraine Hansberry’s ‘A Raisin In the Sun’.  Other ERT productions include: Regina Taylor’s ‘Crowns’, Jeff Stetson’s Fraternity, Phillip Hayes Dean’s ‘Robeson’, among others.

The Gospel at Colonus runs June 18 – July 19, 2015 with the official press opening on Saturday, June 20 at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, 4718 West Washington Boulevard in Los Angeles.  Preview performances are scheduled for Thursday, June 18 at 8:00 p.m. and Friday, June 19 at 8:00 p.m.  

Preview prices range from $25.00 – $35.00. The regular performance schedule is Friday at 8:00 p.m., Saturday at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. and Sunday at 3:00 p.m.  Regular price tickets range from $45.00 – $65.00. Single tickets are available online at ebonyrep.org or by phone at 323-964-9766.  Groups of 10 or more are available via email at [email protected] or 323-964-9766.

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