PLEASE NOTE NEW OPENING NIGHT DATE: APRIL 22, 2022
Youth (age 16 and under) $20
April 22-May 15, 2022 (no performance April 30)
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm
Sundays at 2 pm
Running time: 90 minutes, no intermission
A moving and celebratory musical play in which hats become a springboard for an exploration of Black history and identity as seen through the eyes of a young Black woman who has come down South to stay with her aunt after her brother is killed in Brooklyn. Hats are everywhere, in exquisite variety, and the characters use the hats to tell tales concerning everything from the etiquette of hats to their historical and contemporary social functioning. There is a hat for every occasion, from flirting to churchgoing to funerals to baptisms, and the tradition of hats is traced back to African rituals and slavery and forward to the New Testament and current fashion. Some rap but predominantly gospel music and dance underscore and support the narratives. The conclusion finds the standoffish young woman, whose cultural identity as a young Black Brooklyn woman has been so at odds with the more traditional and older Southern blacks, embracing hats and their cultural significance as a part of her own fiercely independent identity.
“Get ready to clap your hands, tap your feet, and make a joyful noise at Regina Taylor’s CROWNS.” – Broadway World
Read the entire program online one of two ways:
CROWNS digital program (scan the QR code)
You can also find the program at this link:
CROWNS is presented by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc., New York.
CROWNS was originally produced at the McCarter Theatre Center, Princeton, New Jersey, and by Second Stage Theatre, New York City.
CROWNS was originally commissioned by the McCarter Theatre Center and was developed with the assistance of the Sundance Theatre Institute.
Special thanks to Hymnary.org for the music and lyrics to “Take My Life and Let It Be.”
JUANITA HARRIS (Mother Shaw) is a musician/vocalist/actor who has been actively entertaining audiences around the Bay Area and internationally. A native of Sunnyvale, she is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music and excels in myriad genres such as Jazz, R&B, Musical Theater, Gospel, Rock and Roll, and Opera. She was voted “Best Jazz Singer” by KDFC’s “Best of the Bay” in 2018 and 2019 and has been nominated twice for TheaterBayAreaAwardsin2017for “Roar of the Greasepaint, Smell of the Crowd”and in 2018 for “The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler.” She travels internationally to Austria and Germany to perform for UNICEF in many of the concerts and fundraisers they host around Europe. She is a vocal coach, Director, Vocal and Music Director and has appeared onstage numerous times in Musicals and Straight Plays throughout the Bay Area.
PAM DRUMMER-WILLIAMS (Mabel) is thrilled to be back at CCCT!! Pam can be seen as Granme in “THEM’ a film by Awesome Theatre, and recently took the stage as Amiens in “As You Like It” with Masquers Playhouse. On Zoom she was seen as The Mayor in “The Emeryville Horror” with Same Boat Theater Collective, Andela in ”Andela” with B8 Theatre Co., Kiki in “Comb Your Hair or You’ll Look Like a Slave” with Three Willows Theatre Company and as Dr. Ray Daly. in “Felix B. Love Is Not Alone” with Queer Cat Productions. Some of her favorite roles have been Suffragist Mary (based on Mary Church Terrell) in “Strange Ladies” with B8 Theatre Co., The Officiant in “The Gay Divorce Play“, with Queer Cat Productions and Sarah’s Friend in” “Ragtime” with Contra Costa Civic Theatre. Thank you Mom, for the memories of Sundays filled with glorious hats.
LESLIE IVY (Velma) Since the Pandemic, Leslie Ivy has appeared as (Rebecca) in Theatreworks Digital Stories as well as African American Shakespeare’s digital performance of The Drowning Pool (Kenya). Last year, Leslie appeared in the two-person musical I Do, I Do at Woodminster Amphitheater. Before the pandemic, Leslie’s last shows were with BBBay in Sister Act (Deloris), Ray of Light Theatre’s Caroline or Change (Washing Machine), and Contra Costa Civic Theatre in Once On This Island (Asaka). Her recent non-musical performances include San Jose Stage’s Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (Sookie), Pear Theatre’s Northanger Abbey (Catherine), Los Altos Stage Company’s The Crucible (Tituba), and Encore Players’ An American Daughter (Judith). She is proud of her performance with Hillbarn Theatre in The Color Purple (Celie), for which she won a Theatre Bay Area Award. Leslie studied musical performance at Notre Dame De Namur University and is very happy to return to the CCCT stage.
BRITTANY NICOLE SIMS (Wanda) is an actress and Bay Area native from San Leandro, CA and extremely excited for her debut performance with Contra Costa Civic Theatre! Brittany received her B.A. in Theater Arts from Sacramento State University. She has won a Shellie Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2020 for her role as Mary in ReproRights. Brittany recently was a part New Conservatory Theater’s production of Dot as Averie. Other companies she’s had the honor to work with include All Terrain Theater, Inferno Theater, Vallejo Shakespeare in the Park, Those Women Productions, The SF Olympians Festival, Playwrights Center of SF, The Exit Theater, African American Shakespeare Company (AASC), Custom Made Theater, B8 Theater, Three Willows Theatre, and 6th Street Playhouse. Brittany would like to thank her family and friends for all their love and support.
ALANA WAGNER (Jeanette) is thrilled to be making her CCCT debut as Jeanette. She is a Bay Area native that developed a love for musical theatre in high school. You can usually find her performing with the Berkeley Broadway Singers. She last appeared on stage in She Loves Me and Lucky Stiff, both with the Pinole Community Players. She would like to thank the cast, crew and production team for this wonderful opportunity. She is also grateful to her family, friends and voice teacher for all their encouragement. Thank you for supporting live theatre!
CHRIS POSTON (Man) Trumpeter, composer, and singer. Member of the Oakland Symphony Chorus, Golden Gate Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Oakland Bay Area Community Chorus, and Praise Leader and Director of the Men’s Chorus at Acts Full Gospel Church of God in Christ in Oakland. National Anthem singer for the Harlem Globetrotters in 2017 and National Anthem singer for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service Oath Ceremonies held monthly at the Paramount Theatre, Oakland, California. Theater actor. Stage plays and musicals include the role of Booker T. Washington in “Ragtime”, Contra Costa Civic Theater; the Cowardly Lion in “The Wiz” at Black Repertory Theater, Berkeley, Charlie Brown in “Smokey Joe’s Cafe”, Tri-Valley Repertory Theater, Pleasanton, and other roles in “The Nina Simone Story”, “Tambourines to Glory”, “Sweet Charity”, and “Guys and Dolls”. Chris is also a self-employed professional housepainter, currently working through the Bay Area and Northern California.
AMORA BROWN (Yolanda) is a Singer, Dancer, Actress, and creator of the Corpartainment Podcast, a podcast that discusses how the stability of a corporate job enables Musicians, Dancers, Filmmakers, Artists, and Content Creators to design extraordinary art. Amora has also worked as an extra in the television show “Goliath” and also the movie “Jexi” directed by Jon Lucas, Scott Moore. She has been acting since she was a child and played young Mahalia Jackson at the Black Repertory Theatre.
REGINA TAYLOR is featured in Netflix’s One Day and a Night starring Jeffrey Wright, Ashton Saunders and directed/written by Joe Robert Cole (writer: Black Panther), guest stars on Red Line (Producer Ava DuVernay for CBS) and The Good Fight starring Christine Baranksi.
Ms Taylor also has written upcoming plays: Oo-Bla-Dee directed by Ruben Santiago Hudson for Two River Theater as well as commissions from Denver Theater Center and the Old Vic in London.
She will be recording a new play for Audible and is currently writing a screenplay about Sojourner Truth.
In addition: Playwright credits include: “Bread” (Edgerton Award. Water Tower Theater), “Crowns” (four Helen Hayes awards, including Best Director), “Oo-Bla-Dee,” (Steinberg-ATCA award) and “Drowning Crow,” (Broadway, MTC), “The Trinity River Plays” (Edgerton Foundation Award) and “stop.reset” (Signature Theater Residency Five).
Ms. Taylor received the Denzel Washington Endowed Chair Fordham University at Lincoln Center. An Artistic Associate of Goodman Theatre, Taylor is its most produced playwright. Signature Theater residency five playwright.
Taylor in her TV role as Lily Harper in “I’ll Fly Away” received a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress, 3 NAACP Image Awards and two Emmy Award nominations. Her other television roles include “The Unit”. Taylor was first African American lead in Masterpiece Theatre’s “Cora Unashamed, starred as Anita Hill in HBO’’s “Strange Justice” (Gracie Award) and “A Good Day to Die” starring Sidney Poitier. She has co-starred in USA Networks’ Dig and guest starred in “Elementary” and “The Black List”. Taylor’s film credits include “Saturday Church”, “The Negotiator,” “Courage Under Fire,” “Clockers,” and “Lean on Me.” Taylor was also the first Black woman to play Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet” on Broadway.
KIMBERLY RIDGEWAY (Director) is excited to be directing for the first time at CCCT! A Director, Actor, Playwright and Producer, Kimberly wrote, produced and directed the stage plays No More Secrets, Prospect Place, Heavy Burdens and The Gigolo Chronicles Kimberly has directed projects for Dragon Productions Theatre Company, Altarena Playhouse, Ubuntu Theatre Project, Bay Area Performing Arts Collective, SF Playhouse, Playwrights Center of San Francisco, Theatre Rhinoceros, 3Girls Theatre and TheatreFirst. Some notable acting roles include Wonderland (World Premiere]), The Human Ounce (World Premiere), The Piano Lesson, and CCCT’s Doubt (2015), All the Way (2019), and The Mountaintop (2016) for which she won the BroadwayWorld San Francisco Award for Best Leading Actress in a Local Play.
BRANICE MCKENZIE (Music Director) is a force in Vocal Jazz artistry, from Umbria Jazz Festival to Carnegie Hall. Her compositions encompass the arc of great love songs, to children’s music that speaks to goodness, to music for the soul. A major part of her career was spent touring and performing with such luminous artists as Harry Belafonte, Gregory Hines, Miriam Makeba, Ledisi and Iyanla Vanzant. Her voice also brings her to musical theatre. Here, Branice is a leading character, contributing composer and/or co-producer for musicals, like the off-Broadway production of, “Shades Of Harlem”, and two of her collaborative works, “Celebrate Kwanzaa” and her latest opus, “Planet For Children”. Ms. McKenzie also has garnered nominations for Best Music Direction for “Dance Of The Holy Ghosts (2018) Ubuntu Theatre Project and “To Kill A Mockingbird” (2019) 6th Street Playhouse. As an educator, she has completed fifteen years as a teaching artist and Vocal Faculty member at Oakland School For the Arts and she is Founding Minister of Music Emerita at Heart and Soul Center of Light. www.BraniceMcKenzie.com; YouTube: Ms. B’s Life Music
JENNIFER FRAZIER (Choreographer) TO COME
SHAWNJ WEST (Choreographer) California-based director and actor who relocated to the Bay Area in 2011 after 16 years in Seattle, WA. Where he directed productions of the Seattle cult hit Sex In Seattle: Episodes 15, 16, 17 & 18 with SIS Productions; ReAct’s production of WELL; and the 2009 West Coast premiere of Illyria and The Seven Year Itch with Redwood Theatre. Some of his Bay Area directing credits include the world premiere of Interlude at NCTC, the African American Shakespeare Company’s production of Cinderella, A Soulful Christmas with Lorraine Hansberry Theatre as well as assistant director on Macbeth, also the African American Shakespeare Company. Here’s to living life out loud!
NIA JACOBS (Costume Designer) Born and raised in Oakland CA, Nia Jacobs got her start in costuming during her high school’s production of Peter Pan. Nia went on to major in English and minor in Technical Theatre at Howard University, working on shows like Ain’t Misbehavin’ and Eclipsed. After college, Nia spent time working with Theatre Lab for the Dramatic Arts in Washington, DC before returning to the Bay Area. In her spare time, Nia enjoys painting and cooking.
BRITTANY MELLERSON (Lighting Designer) is an East Coast native and graduate of Point Park University’s Conservatory Program, with a BFA in Theatrical Lighting & Sound Design. Brittany is the Resident Lighting Designer for Lamplighters Music Theatre, SF PlayGround, and the Telluride Film Festival. Recent credits include lighting design for PlayGround’s Solofest 2022, Awesome Theatre’s feature film THEM, lighting and sound design for The Pear’s Mountaintop, and Sunset Baby. Throughout the pandemic, Brittany has been dedicated to source and produce equitable employment avenues within the Bay Area for Black designers and technicians. Up Next: Lamplighter’s Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder; Custom Made’s Blood at the Root; Awesome Theatre’s Coffee Lady; PlayGround’s Best of PlayGround Festival
TAJIANNA OKECHUKWU (Stage Manager) is an actor, director, and production coordinator based in the Bay Area. She obtained a double degree in Acting and Film & TV Studies from Azusa PacificUniversity. After graduating, she returned home to direct short films and music videos. In addition, she has performed in plays and had her hand backstage in theatre, like her time as a Company Management Intern for the touring production of Into the Woods. In her directorial work, she likes to explore narratives through the lens of the Black experience. Her visual style favors dynamic cinematography that compliments a refreshing story. She is always seeking to tell stories that will shift paradigms and shake culture in our society. Tajianna would like to thank her family and friends for supporting her dreams and making her smile along the way.