I caught up with trailblazer Micki Grant, a multi-award winning composer/lyricist, playwright and actress, upon her arrival at The York Theatre Company last night at the tailend of the first day of rehearsals of the staged concert version of her seminal musical, Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope, for which she wrote the book, music, and lyrics.
Originally conceived by Vinnette Carroll, COPE is the season opener of The York Theatre Company’s Winter 2016 Musicals in Mufti Series, and will be presented February 27 – March 6, 2016. The York Theatre Company (E. 54 St. and Lexington Ave) is dedicated to the development of new musicals and the preservation of musical gems from the past. Tickets are just $31.50. Save 30% off the regular ticket price ($45) with code COPE. Click here for more information.
On the eve of the 45th anniversary of Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope, Ms. Grant discussed her career and what it took to move COPE, the first full-length musical written by an African-American woman to make it to Broadway from the page to the Broadway stage, with Project1Voice Founder/CEO Erich McMillan-McCall at the York Theatre Company.
The eight-member cast features Marva Hicks (Motown, The Musical), Jelani Alladin (Ragtime), Darilyn Castillo (It Ain’t Nothin But the Blues), Doug Eskew (The Color Purple), Tina Fabrique (Ragtime), Devin L. Roberts (The Lion King), Raun Ruffin (The Good Wife) and Debra Walton (Storyville).
Ms. Grant was joined onstage by director Leslie Dockery, musical director William Foster McDaniel, performers Tina Fabrique and Julia Lema, and The York Theatre Company Producing Artistic Director James Morgan, who shared their views about (re) introducing the classical musical to New York audiences.
Cast member Tina Fabrique performed “Fighting for Pharaoh ” from the staged concert version of Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope.
Ms. Grant treated us to her rendition of “Thank Heaven for You”.
With five 1972 Tony Award nominations (including Best Musical) and an Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical the same year, the show also won Micki Grant a Grammy Award for best score-the first female to be so honored. Ms. Grant was also one of the stars of the show, which came to Broadway after successful runs in Washington DC, Detroit, and Philadelphia. The show ran for over two years on Broadway. A dynamic mixture of gospel, jazz, funk, soul, calypso, and soft rock, the show illuminates the African-American experience with vibrant song and dance. Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope was described as “a cultural pulse-taking of the challenges facing the black community in America” and is the first Broadway musical written entirely by a woman and the first Broadway production to be directed by a female African-American. T. E. Kalem, writing in TIME Magazine, said, “all heaven breaks loose on stage. This is the kind of show at which you want to blow kisses.” The New York Times declared, “A hand-clapping, sky reaching, body-swaying musical.”
The performance schedule for Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope is Saturday, February 27 at 2:30 p.m.* & 8:00 p.m., and Sunday, February 28 at 2:30 p.m.* and 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, March 2 at 7:00 p.m., Thursday, March 3 and Friday, March 4 at 8:00 p.m., Saturday, March 5 at 2:30 p.m.* & 8:00 p.m., and Sunday, March 6 at 2:30 p.m. (*audience discussions follow these matinee performances). Tickets are just $31.50. Save 30% off the regular ticket price ($45)
There are three easy ways to purchase tickets:
Click here for more information and enter code COPE.
Call 212.935.5820 and mention code COPE.
In person at The York Theatre Box Office, 619 Lexington @ 54th Street, one hour before the performance.
The Opening Night performance on Sunday, February 28 at 7:00 p.m. will be followed by a “Can’t Cope with the Oscars Party.”
Micki Grant has been involved in the creation of eighteen musical productions, five of them on Broadway. Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope and Your Arms Too Short To Box With God were collaborations with Vinnette Carroll, as well as five others. Among her numerous awards are the Grammy, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Helen Hayes, NAACP Image Award, Dramatists Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Black Theatre Festival’s Living Legend Award and the AUDELCO’s Outstanding Pioneer Award.
In addition to Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope, she performed in Having Our Say (as Sadie Delaney), Tambourines to Glory and Jericho-Jim Crow and The Gingham Dog, and has received three Tony Award nominations for her writing. In 1965, Micki Grant became the first African-American cast member of a daytime soap opera, when she played the role of Peggy Harris Nolan on NBC’s Another World.
Ms. Grant’s works Include: Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope (Book, Music & Lyrics) 1970; Croesus And The Witch (Music & Lyrics) 1971; Step Lively, Boy 1973; The Prodigal Sister ( Music & Lyrics) 1974; I’m Laughin’ But I Ain’t Tickled (1976); Working (“If I Could’ve Been,” “Lovin’ Al,” and “Cleaning Women”) 1978; It’s So Nice to Be Civilized (Book, Music & Lyrics) 1980; Phillis (Music & Lyrics) 1986.
The York Theatre Company’s acclaimed Musicals in Mufti series of musical theatre gems, performed in a simply-staged, book-in-hand concert format, celebrates its twenty-first historic year with the 102nd and 103rd presentations of shows from the past. Mufti means “in street clothes, without the trappings associated with a full production.”
Marva Hicks, Doug Eskew, Tina Fabrique, Devin L. Roberts, Jelani Alladin, Darilyn Castillo, Raun Ruffin, Debra Walton set for York’s DON’T BOTHER ME, I CAN’T COPE by Micki Grant as Part of Musicals in Mufti 2016, Feb. 27 – Mar. 6
Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.com, Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.
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