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For the Love of the Stage

When primordial urban theater emerged from the theatric ooze, critics and Broadway snobs were quick to downplay its importance and label it the “chitlin circuit.” But now, playwright-turned-silver-screen-director Tyler Perry is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and the shows of urban theater’s current kings — Je’Caryous Johnson and Gary Guidry — have grossed more than $90 million. Making all that dough, they need to change the name to the filet mignon circuit. Take that, Broadway! This week, the Urban Theatre Entertainment Festival and Awards will celebrate the actors, producers, writers, directors, and audiences who have helped make this segment of theater explode in size, scale, and scope.

“African-Americans are going to the theater like never before, so our goal [for the event] is to stimulate the economy, develop new theater audiences for tomorrow, and educate by using the arts,” the event’s cofounder, Julia Brown, says. The week will be chock full of performances, workshops, and presentations for theater lovers of all shapes, sizes, and intensity. The whole shebang kicks off Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency (400 SE Second Ave., Miami) with the Celebrity Gala, hosted by Melba Moore and JoMarie Peyton, where stage legends and newbies alike will pose for pictures and shake hands at the Parade of Stars. They’ll follow it all with dinner, an awards ceremony, and a special performance of E.P. McKnight’s I Question America. Tickets start at $50; visit to get yours and to see a full schedule of events.
Tue., July 29, 2008


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