Monday, June 24, 2024

The business of Broadway in the Hood

by Kimberly Bailey-Tureaud

Broadway in the Hood

As the creative forces behind the nonprofit organization A Source of Joy Theatricals, Torrey Russell and Preston Coghill are making a splash in Las Vegas with Broadway in the Hood.
On a mission to showcase talented actors, dancers and singers from disadvantaged areas, “We go into neighborhoods around the city, and also visit organizations that assist the less fortunate, such as Shade Tree, Space Place and community centers,” said Russell, who has worked with filmmaker Tyler Perry and renowned poet Dr. Maya Angelou. “We hold auditions in order to find those people who have talent and have not had the opportunity to show it, or who might be going through a hardship that we can help with.”
Ranging in age from 15-67, the talented Broadway in the Hood cast recently performed in the main showroom at House of Blues Las Vegas, inside the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino. Executives there were immediately impressed with their production of the musical “Hiram & Nettie,” which had been staged at the West Las Vegas Library Theatre. As it turns out, a union was imminent.
“The musical … ‘Hiram & Nettie’ is based on a true story, written by Terrence Anderson about his ancestors who were slaves and who fell in love,” said Russell. “Hiram was a dark-skinned slave who fell in love with light-skinned Nettie. They were the first slaves granted permission to get married on a plantation in Virginia. The House of Blues’ representatives graciously invited us to perform our productions in their showroom  —  but first we had to promise to perform ‘Hiram & Nettie.’”
To provide the troupe with initial financing, Russell and Coghill used their own personal savings. The investment has paid off: In existence for only one year, Broadway in the Hood has been been part of the Golden Globe Awards, nominated for an NAACP Theater Award and profiled in a number of national and international publications. Recently, the cast accepted an invitation to open for Angelou at Arizona State University on Feb. 20, 2011.
Having grown from 35 participants to a current enrollment of 110, Broadway in The Hood meets every day from 4-8:30 p.m. for rehearsals at the Agassi Boys and Girls Club, which also donates use of the facility. Every production is free to the public, but donations are accepted at the end of each show to assist with expenses.
“The new year is all about having the community and those involved with the organization to open their minds and believe they can do and be anything they desire,” Russell said, noting that “Dare to Dream” is the theme of Broadway in The Hood’s next season. “We are definitely blessed.”


One Response to “The business of Broadway in the Hood”
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