Marie and Rosetta
by George Brant
directed by Neil Pepe
Originally produced at Atlantic Theater Company, New York, NY
August 24 to October 16, 2016
About the Premiere Production:
Synopsis: A huge influence on Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles and Jimi Hendrix, Sister Rosetta Tharpe was a legend in her time, bringing fierce guitar playing and swing to gospel music. Tharpe was the queen of ‘race records’ in the 30’s and 40’s, who performed mornings at churches and evenings at the Cotton Club, who was a big enough star to fill a baseball stadium for her third wedding, but ended up buried in an unmarked grave in Philadelphia. Marie and Rosetta chronicles her first rehearsal with a young protégée, Marie Knight, as they prepare to embark on a tour that would establish them as one of the great duet teams in musical history.
Artistic Statement: When I first read George Brant’s play Marie and Rosetta, I was thrilled he had chosen to explore the life of Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Known as the “Godmother of Rock’n’Roll,” Tharpe had a signature style that’s widely considered to be the precursor to modern rock. Yet despite being a profound influence on iconic artists like Jimi Hendrix and Elvis Presley, she remains to this day an unsung hero. This play celebrates Tharpe and her collaboration with protégée Marie Knight, showing how these two women overcame obstacles to rock the American music scene. What’s more, it puts a dozen songs from Tharpe’s canon front and center – creating a theatrical event that is truly rock’n’roll.
Grant Statement: Marie and Rosetta is an exciting work. At the same time, its numerous sound and musical requirements make it a challenging undertaking. Additional rehearsal provided by the Edgerton Foundation has been an asset to our production, giving us the time to address these requirements and assemble a seamless world premiere of George Brant’s fantastic new play with music.
Cast: Rebecca Naomi Jones and Kecia Lewis.
Set Designer: Riccardo Hernandez
Lighting Designer: Christopher Akerlind
Costume Designer: Dede M. Ayite
Sound Designer: SCK Sound Design
Musical Director, Arrangements and Orchestrations: Jason Michael Webb
Production Stage Manager: Michael Domue
Guitar: Felicia Collins
Piano: Deah Harriott
Additional Funders Supporting Marie and Rosetta: Gibson.