This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

1Sep/18

THE GOSPEL AT COLONUS

(photo by Melissa Gaul)

More than forty singers will turn the Delacorte into a Pentecostal church in Gospel at Colonus (photo by Melissa Gaul)

Central Park
Delacorte Theater
September 4-9, free, 8:00
publictheater.org

Since 2013, the annual Shakespeare in the Park summer festival has concluded with a musical version of a classic tale, performed over Labor Day weekend following the two main productions. Adapted by either Todd Almond (The Tempest, The Odyssey) or Shaina Taub (The Winter’s Tale, As You Like It with Laurie Woolery) and under the leadership of Public Works founder and director Lear deBessonet, the shows feature top-tier actors (Laura Benanti, Christopher Fitzgerald, Lindsay Mendez, Brandon Victor Dixon, Norm Lewis) joined by some two hundred men, women, and children from community organizations across all five boroughs. This year, however, a previous Public Works production, Taub’s Twelfth Night, was brought back for a full run, so the Labor Day weekend spot is being filled by a revival of The Gospel at Colonus, a copresentation of the Public Theater and the Onassis Foundation USA playing September 4-9 at the Delacorte. The retelling of Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus, which takes place in between Oedipus Rex and Antigone, has been transported to a black Pentecostal church; the book and lyrics are by Mabou Mines founding coartistic director Lee Breuer, with a gospel score by Bob Telson. The show premiered in 1983 at BAM and went on to win an Obie for Best Musical; it was also a Pulitzer Prize finalist and earned Breuer a Tony nomination for Best Book. The exciting cast features the Blind Boys of Alabama as Oedipus, Rev. Dr. Earl F. Miller as the Messenger, the Legendary Soul Stirrers (Willie Rogers, Ben Odom, and Gene Stewart) as Choragos, Wren T. Brown as Theseus, Greta Oglesby as Antigone, Shari Addison as Ismene, Jay Caldwell as Creon, Kevin Davis as Polyneices, and J. D. Steele as the choir director, with Tina Fabrique, Jeff Young, Sam Butler Jr., Carolyn Johnson-White, and Josie Johnson in other key singing roles. Musical numbers include “Live Where You Can,” “Evil Kindness,” and “Stop; Do Not Go On!”

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