As the famous saying goes: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” The answer, of course, is “Practice.”
There are no famous sayings about how to get to Broadway because there is no one way to get to the Great White Way. Many of us are familiar with out-of-town previews, tours, or the production moving from Off-Off-Broadway to Off-Broadway, hoping to land a coveted Broadway run finally.
Developing the production, writing, rewriting, and perfecting the book, lyrics, and music are crucial to the Broadway workshop. As the show becomes finely tuned, it will be performed for investors as it moves to a large city, like Chicago, Philadelphia or Washington D.C. Thanks to Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and their dedication to new works, you can add Orlando to that list.
“Grace,” a new musical aiming to land on Broadway or a big national tour, has returned to development at Dr. Phillips Center after a first run of public performances last year. Dr. Phillips Center announced it hosted the creators and creative team, including Nolan Williams, Jr. (music, lyrics and co-book writer) and Robert Barry Fleming (director and choreographer), for a two-week workshop to keep developing new ideas.
They allowed local Central Florida performers to audition for and perform in the workshop, culminating in a private production at the end of May. The arts center financed and supported all aspects of the workshop. All of this work is to fulfill their mission to be a creative and supportive venue for developing new productions that aspire to tour the country and the world.
Dr. Phillips Center is committed to being an essential part of this journey by underwriting the workshop and offering development and exposure opportunities for local talent. The goal is for “Grace” to tour nationally, ultimately landing on Broadway, with Orlando being a vital step on the ladder to success.
“The project has a bright future, and I’m really thrilled we were able to workshop our new ideas at the Dr. Phillips Center,” said Nolan Williams Jr., Grace’s award-winning creator, producer, composer, lyricist and book co-writer (with Nikkole Salter). “During our time there, we were able to hone the story by further developing our characters, especially their relationships with each other, changing some of the music, and exploring further the themes of culture and family values, which are at the heart of ‘Grace.’”
Through about two dozen solo and choral numbers, “Grace” shows a day in the life of South Philly’s Minton family. The Minton’s have a long connection with African American food traditions through their restaurant, which they’ve owned and run for over 100 years. The restaurant is more than just their source of income; it’s a way of life. On this day, they all come together to mourn their family matriarch’s loss, prepare for the memorial, and discuss the future. Along the way, the audience learns about what will happen with the restaurant, whose fate is in question because of gentrification and the intrusion of big corporations on small businesses, and most importantly, they learn about family dynamics.
“‘ Grace’ really captures that sense of community while doing rigorous, ingenious, extraordinary work. So, it feels apt that we were able to work at Dr. Phillips Center, a place known for innovation and place-making,” added Robert Barry Fleming.
“P.S.: Dr. Phillips Center announced it hosted the creators and creative team, including Nolan Williams, Jr. (music, lyrics and co-book writer), Nikkole Salter (co-book writer),and Robert Barry Fleming (director and choreographer), for a two-week workshop to keep developing new ideas.”