African-American Shakespeare Company 

Returns to Its Roots with

Witty Reprise of Their Holiday Classic 

Cinderella at The Herbst

After numerous updates of their production over the last two decades—including last year’s very well received version co-produced by the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company (SFBATCO)—Sherri Young, Executive Director of the African-American Shakespeare Company has decided the time is right to go back to the company’s initial take on the story in order to rediscover the production’s original brilliance that featured a kind and gentle Cinderella, who while fully aware of the inequalities in her life, doesn’t allow them to define her

Cinderella runs 4 performances only, Friday, December 22, 8:00pm; Saturday, December 23, 11am & 3pm; Sunday, December 24, 1pm

Tickets from $25-$30; Tickets at City Box Office 

October 24, 2017, San Francisco – The African-American Shakespeare Company will return for the 2nd year in a row to The Herbst Theater, with Cinderella. After being a holiday staple for the company for more than two decades, with a number of revisions, additions and updates, Executive Director Sherri Young says, “I wanted to take our show back to its original brilliance. Over the years we have had so many alterations and changes, that now it’s time to go back to the heartfelt storytelling that makes Cinderella so special—with the uniqueness that only the African-American Shakespeare Company can bring.”

As always, the musical production will find our heroine thanklessly toiling away before seizing the opportunity to pursue her dreams. In this case, abetted by an extremely sassy and opinionated fairy godmother along with a pair of particularly life-changing shoes.

Of special interest to Young is how young girls of color hear things like “not good enough,” “not pretty enough,” or “not special enough” more than other children—so she wanted Cinderella to be a gift to them. “Needless to say, our Cinderella doesn’t fit in the traditional Disney version. Yes, our Cinderella is kind and gentle, but she is fully aware of the inequalities in her life—and yet she does not allow those inequalities to define her. She fights to remain positive and rise above. Our Cinderella discovers that even if there is no Prince (spoiler alert!) in her life, that she is able to pursue her dreams and become a strong woman capable of making her own happy ending.

As always, young audience members will have the chance to see and try on the shoe, just to see if it fits.

This year sees a new Cinderella in town, the actress Paige Mayes, who in the 2016 production played the grandmother. Most recently seen as Helena in AASC’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, she also had multiple roles in the company’s well received production of The Colored Museum.

 

The 2017 production features Rickey Soto as Prince Charming, choreography by Jarrett Holley, and direction by Sherri Young.

Cinderella: Paige Mayes

Prince Charming: Rickey Soto

Evil Stepmother: Alison Whismore

Shaniqua (evil stepsister): Devin Cunningham

Zonia (evil stepsister): Jourdan Olivier-Verde

The Duke: Gabe Ross

Fairy Godmother: Kim Saunders

Grandmother: Virginia Smyly

More information here: http://www.african-americanshakes.org/productions/cinderella/

High Res Photos Available HERE

Dates: December 22 – 24

Times: Friday, December 22, 8:00pm; Saturday, December 23, 11am & 3:00pm, Sunday, December 24 at 1pm

Location: The Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco

Tickets: $25-$30 available at City Box Office 

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About the African-American Shakespeare Company

The award-winning African-American Shakespeare Company (AASC) was established in 1994 by professional theater artists from the American Conservatory Theatre as an alternative answer to the “Color Blind Casting” initiative that began in the early 90s. While this initiative temporarily changed the diversity on stage, African-American Shakespeare Company noticed color blind casting was ignoring these artists’ rich cultural heritage and not making the most of their dynamic, cultural vibrancy that actors of color could bring to classical works. Moreover, “mainstream” classical theaters seem to lack the ability to truly attract diverse audiences. African-American Shakespeare Company inspired to highlight artist of color’s dynamic cultural vibrancy within classical productions.

 

African-American Shakespeare Company’s work has received honorary acknowledgement from San Francisco’s City and County’s former Mayor Gavin Newsome (now serving as Lieutenant Governor); recently awarded The Paine Knickerbocker Award in 2014 for Outstanding Achievement for a Theater Company by the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle; and a Community Partner Award from University of San Francisco’s Leo T. McCarthy Center for outstanding collaboration in providing quality Service-Learning program.

 

The African-American Shakespeare Company is funded in part by Shakespeare for a New Generation, a national program of the National Endowment for the Arts in cooperation with Arts Midwest; San Francisco Arts Commission, Grants for the Arts, California Arts Council, The San Francisco Foundation, Columbia Foundation, Fleishhacker Foundation, Zellerbach Family Foundation, Macy’s, The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, The Hewlett Foundation, University of San Francisco Engage Program, and Silicon Valley Foundation.

 

About Sherri Young, Founder & Executive Director

An M.F.A. graduate from the American Conservatory Theatre; and former Commissioner for the San Francisco Art Commission proudly serving for Mayor Gavin Newsom, Young founded The African-American Shakespeare in 1993 and has been its Executive Director since. She has directed sixteen productions, produced and executed four programs for the organization and speaks at various colleges, universities, and conferences across the nation. Young manages the approximately 60 company members and volunteers for the organization’s programs. Some career highlights includes the creation of the company’s signature holiday performance Cinderella, effectively building and stabilizing the organization over the past five years, increase audience attendance by 30%, and increase new funding support by foundations and individual donors within the past two years.

 

About L Peter Callender, Artistic Director

In addition to being Artistic Director of AASC, L. Peter Callender is a Visiting Professor of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies at Stanford University, teaching Acting Shakespeare and Fundamentals of Directing. He is also a teaching artist at Waterfront Conservatory Theater in Berkeley, and, for over 20years, an Associate Artist at California Shakespeare Theater. He is an award-winning actor, performing in over 25 Shakespeare plays throughout his career, and voted “Mentor of the Year” and “Most Valuable Player in the Bay Area Theater Scene” by Robert Hurwitt (formerly) of the SF Chronicle! Mr Callender has performed On and Off-Broadway, and in over 15 regional theaters across the country, including NY Shakespeare Festival, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Syracuse Stage, Milwaukee Rep, Pennsylvania Stage Company, American Conservatory Theater, Berkeley Rep, Marin Theater Company and Aurora Theater Company. Some favorite roles: Simon in The Whipping Man, Richard in Richard III, Sam in Master Harold … and the Boys, Leontes in The Winter’s Tale, Antony in Anthony and Cleopatra, Mr M in My Children! My Africa! Walter in Swimmers, Robert Mugabe in Breakfast With Mugabe, Sterling North in Permanent Collection, Dr Treves in The Elephant Man, Tom/Jamaican Waiter in Prelude to a Kiss (Broadway), Caliban in The Tempest (directed by Julie Taymor) and several others. More information on his work and career can be seen on his website: www.lpetercallender.com.