Due to popular demand, Synchronicity Theatre will extend the premiere of brand-new musical adaptation of the beloved children’s book Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters, for one week. Now playing through February 26th.
For tickets or more information, please visit synchrotheatre.com or call 404-484-8636.
Once upon a time there was a man with two very beautiful daughters – Nyasha, who is kind and well-loved, and Manyara, who is mean-tempered and bullying. The King calls for all families to send women worthy of being his wife, and Mufaro decides to send both of his daughters. Manyara sneaks out to begin her journey first, and she is dismissive and unkind to all that she meets along her way. Nyasha stops to offer kindness. When they arrive at the City to meet the king, a surprise is in store for them both.
Set in Zimbabwe, and written in the style of African Folktales, Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters is an expansive, musical retelling of the beloved book. Set under the clear Zimbabwean sky comes a tale of sibling rivalry and tests of character. Award-winning artist and writer John Steptoe’s rich cultural imagery of Africa and gift for storytelling earned him the Coretta Scott King Award, Randolph Coldecott Award, and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters. Now for the first time with new music created by Synchronicity’s artistic team, Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters is simply magic for the whole family.
Producing Artistic Director Rachel May was searching for a musical to program in our Family Series. Synchronicity is committed to telling stories from many different perspectives and cultures, especially in the Family Series. May discovered that there was a non-musical version of Mufaro’s, but not an available musical version. She reached out to Bweela Steptoe, John’s Daughter, and proposed the creation of this new musical. Artistic collaborators Taryn Janelle (Director/Choreographer/Lyricist) and LeRell Ross (Music Director/Composer) were brought on board, and a new musical was born. These dynamic collaborators drew inspiration for the songs from African instruments and rhythms, and blended those with traditional musical theatre styles. Their goal was to blend the two together in a way that both stays true to the integrity and location of the story as well as place the story in an exciting way in the world of theater. They also incorporated words from Shona and Xhosa, two dominant languages in Zimbabwe.
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters features set design by Gabrielle Stephenson, lighting design by Maliya McCall, Sound Design by Jonathan Taylor, costume design by Dr. L. Nyrobi N. Moss, and properties design by Chase Weaver. The cast includes Atlanta-based actors Ja’Siah Young as Manyara, Kendra Nicole as Nyasha; Anthony J. Nash as Mufaro; and Brandin Jay, Brittani Minnieweather, and Jonathan Bryant as the three storytellers and a variety of other roles.
Every Friday is PJs & Play! Kids are invited to wear pajamas and enjoy cookies while watching the show.
Show times for Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters are Fridays at 7:00 p.m., Saturdays at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. All performances will be at Synchronicity Theatre in Midtown Atlanta’s Peachtree Pointe complex. Single ticket prices range from $21-31 for adults and $16-26 for children ages 3-12, and are available online at synchrotheatre.com.
Children two and under are free. School group tickets are $8-10 for weekday matinees. Group rates are also available. Groups of 10+ get a discount. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 404.974.3291 for detailed information.
John Lewis Steptoe, creator of award-winning picture books for children, was born in Brooklyn on September 14, 1950 and was raised in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of that borough. He began drawing as a young child and received his formal art training at the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan. He was a student in the HARYOU-ACT Art Program and instructed by the highly recognized African American oil painter, Norman Lewis. He also studied at the Vermont Academy, where he was instructed by the sculptor, John Torres, and William Majors, a painter acclaimed by the Museum of Modem Art for his etchings and print-making. His work first came to national attention in 1969 when his first book, Stevie, appeared in its entirety in Life magazine, hailed as “a new kind of book for black children.” Mr. Steptoe, who had begun work on Stevie at the age of 16, was then 18 years old.
In his 20-year career, Mr. Steptoe illustrated 15 more picture books, ten of which he also wrote. The American Library Association named two of his books Caldecott Honor Books, a prestigious award for children’s book illustration: The Story of Jumping Mouse in 1985 and Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters in 1988. Mr. Steptoe twice received the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration, for Mother Crocodile (text by Rosa Guy) in 1982, and for Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters.
While all of Mr. Steptoe’s work deals with aspects of the African American experience, Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters was acknowledged by reviewers and critics as a breakthrough. Based on an African tale recorded in the 19th century, it required Mr. Steptoe for the first time to research African history and culture, awakening his pride in his African ancestry. Mr. Steptoe hoped that his books would lead children, especially African American children, to feel pride in their origins and in who they are. “I am not an exception to the rule among my race of people,” he said, accepting the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award for Illustration, “I am the rule. By that I mean there are a great many others like me where I come from.”
Mr. Steptoe frequently spoke to audiences of children and adults about his work. He was the 1989 winner of the Milner Award, voted by Atlanta schoolchildren for their favorite author.
John Steptoe died on August 28, 1989 at Saint Luke’s Hospital in Manhattan, following a long illness. He was 38 years old and lived in Brooklyn. Mr. Steptoe was among the small handful of African American artists who have made a career in children’s books.
Taryn Janelle (Director / Choreographer / Lyricist) is a multidisciplinary creative who works in the intersections of art, education, and business. Over her 30+ years in theatre she has worn hats as a director, actor, choreographer, producer and arts educator. Taryn is an Equity Membership Candidate, an Arts Leader of Metro Atlanta (c/o ’07) and became a proud member of ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) in 2007, having opened for national artists Jagged Edge and Bobby Valentino. As a producer, Taryn has brought multiple projects to fruition including several original pieces and adaptations. Taryn earned an MBA in 2009 while working onstage and administratively for the largest resident theatre company in the nation, Shadowbox Live, and, in addition to her position as Director of Education for Synchronicity Theatre, Taryn works with non-profit organizations and social enterprises as a consultant specializing in organizational development and is the Founder and Chief Creative of 360 Arts BLVD, which has awarded over $15,000 in grants and development opportunities to creative entrepreneurs since 2017.
LeRell Ross (Music Director / Composer) is an Atlanta, GA based musician. Born and raised in Camden, New Jersey, he traveled to Atlanta to study music at Morehouse College with a concentration in vocal performance. Since his matriculation through Morehouse, he works as both a stage performer and pianist in metro-Atlanta and beyond. After serving as an Organist for the past 10 years, Mr. Ross recently accepted the position of Director of Music at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church (Atlanta GA). His love for music is only seconded to his love for the Lord. He wishes to grow in both and use them to touch the lives of those with whom he comes in contact with.
Synchronicity Theatre is partnering with Fathers Inc during this production, to highlight and uplift their work “working to build stronger families and communities, one father at a time!” and also with Naima Russell at DramaMamaReads in their work to “Help you find the best Black joy books, diversify your bookshelf & make story time more dramatic.” Synchronicity is also partnering with Hands In, to provide ASL-interpreted performances, and will be partnering with a number of local bookstores and schools to host Bweela Steptoe and other literary events, including A Capella Books, Little Shop of Stories, Shrine of the Black Madonna Books, Tall Tales, and others.
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale
Adapted from John Steptoe’s book
By Karen Abbott
With new songs and music by Taryn Janelle and LeRell Ross
Directed and Choreographed by Taryn Janelle
Music Direction by LeRell Ross
JANUARY 27 – (NEW END DATE) FEBRUARY 26, 2023
Friday at 7:00 p.m.
Saturday at 1 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.
Sunday at 2 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Brandin Jay Griot, Messenger
Jonathan Bryant Storyteller 1 / Villager 1/Hungry Boy/King
Brittani Minnieweather Storyteller 2 / Villager 2/Old Woman
Ja’Siah Young Manyara
Kendra Nicole Nyasha
Anthony Jeremiah Nash Mufaro
Tyshawn Gooden Swing
Tierra Antoinette Swing / Dance Captain
One Peachtree Pointe Complex
1545 Peachtree Street NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
Single ticket prices range from $21-31 for adults and $16-26 for children ages 3-12, and are available online at synchrotheatre.com. Children two and under are free. School group tickets are $8-10 for weekday matinees. Please contact email@example.com for detailed information.
Every Friday is “PJs & Play” | Children wear pajamas, have cookies, and watch the show.
Inside Scoop | Sunday, February 5, 2023 after the 2 p.m. Matinee
There will be a school-day matinee with American Sign Language interpretation by Hands In on February 3 at 10:30 a.m.
* * *
Remaining School Performances:
Tuesday, February 15 at 10:30 a.m.
Wednesday, February 16 at 10:30 a.m.
Thursday, February 17 at 10:30 a.m.
Tuesday, February 22 at 10:30 a.m.
Wednesday, February 23 at 10:30 a.m.
Thursday, February 24 at 10:30 a.m.
Once upon a time there was a man with two very beautiful daughters. Written in the style of African Folktales, Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters is an expansive, musical retelling of the beloved book. Set under the clear Zimbabwean sky comes a tale of sibling rivalry and tests of character.
Award-winning artist and writer John Steptoe’s rich cultural imagery of Africa and gift for storytelling earned him the Coretta Scott King Award and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters.
Now for the first time with new music created by Synchronicity’s artistic team, Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters is simply magic for the whole family.
Currently masks are welcome but not required. The situation is fluid and may change.
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