Anwar Robinson of ‘American Idol’ stars in SU Drama/Syracuse Stage holiday collaboration ‘Godspell’
Anwar Robinson of ‘American Idol’ stars in SU Drama/Syracuse Stage holiday collaboration ‘Godspell’October 03, 2008Patrick Finlonstagepr@syr.edu
Syracuse Stage announced that recording artist and Broadway and film actor Anwar Robinson-a top 10 finalist on the fourth season of Fox’s hit reality show “American Idol”-will play the role of Jesus in the theater’s upcoming holiday production “Godspell, ” a collaboration between Syracuse Stage and the Department of Drama in SU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA). Directed and choreographed by Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj, associate artistic director, the musical is the Excellus BlueCross BlueShield Family Holiday Series and runs Nov. 25-Dec. 28 at Syracuse Stage, 820 E. Genesee St.
Robinson has recorded and performed with Clive Davis, Patti LaBelle, Kelly Price and Donnie McClurkin. In 2005, he was the seventh-place finalist on the fourth season of “American Idol.” With the top 10 Idol finalists, Robinson toured 40 cities in the United States and Canada, performing for more than 500,000 people. In 2007, he took on the role of Collins in the 2007-08 national/international tour of Jonathan Larson’s iconic rock opera “Rent.” The tour made stops in more than 40 cities in the United States, Canada and Japan. During a summer 2008 workshop, Robinson was asked to play the lead role of Raymond Tyler Jr. in the musical adaptation of E. Lynn Harris’ award-winning novel “Invisible Life,” scored by world-renowned composers Ashford and Simpson. His first feature film, “Friends & Lovers: Ski Trip 2,” will be released later this year.
Often compared to his musical idol Stevie Wonder, Robinson is an accomplished vocalist and pianist. He graduated from Westminster Choir College of Rider University, working for a time as a junior high school music teacher. He worked with LaBelle as keyboardist/musical director for the Food Network pilot “Patti’s Kitchen” and is now working on his debut solo album, “The Truth About Love,” which features eclectic music tapping into R&B, soul, jazz and inspirational/gospel.
Joining Robinson will be three professional actors and six students from SU’s Department of Drama. Professional actors include Brandi Chavonne Massey in the role of Sonia, Timothy Ware as Judas and Jasmin Walker as Joanne. The student actors, all seniors, include Michael Howell as Lamar/Davinci, Nadine Malouf as Robin/Buckminster, Lauren Nolan as Gilmer/Gibbon, Frank Paparone as Jeffrey/Thomas Aquinas, Brendon Stimson as Herb/Nietzsche and Tinuke Oyefule as Peggy/Jean Paul.
“I am thrilled to be directing this exciting, new production of ‘Godspell.’ The cast, led by Anwar Robinson, represents the very best of the next generation of American musical theater artists,” says Maharaj. “The infusion of culture and world issues makes this classic American musical even more relevant today as we look at the world around us. I’m proud to be part of the Syracuse theatrical community, and I am doubly proud that this will be my directorial debut at Syracuse Stage with this extremely talented, gifted and dynamic cast.”
“Godspell” won the Grammy for Best Score from an Original Cast Show Album in 1972 and in 1977 the Tony Award for Best Original Score. The SU Drama/Syracuse Stage production will be a celebration of worldwide community, filled with popular hit songs and irresistible goodwill. A groundbreaking musical in its time, this colorful update will feature world dance-inspired choreography and multimedia projections.
Tickets range from $24 to $48. Discounts are available for seniors and students. Rush tickets will be available two hours prior to curtain. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Syracuse Stage Box Office, 820 E. Genesee St., by telephone at (315) 443-3275 or via the web at http://www.SyracuseStage.org. For group discounts of 10 or more, call 443-9844.