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Manhattan Theatre Club Reopens With 1st Performance of Lackawanna Blues

Stars and politicians came out to cut the ribbon outside Broadway's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.

New York State Senator Brad Hoylman, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, MTC Executive Producer Barry Grove, S. Epatha Merkerson, Brian Stokes Mitchell, MTC Board Chairman David Hodgson, NYC Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Vicki Been, New York State Council on the Arts Executive Director Mara Manus, Commissioner of the New York City Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment Anne Del Castillo, President of Times Square Alliance Tom Harris, and President and CEO of New York & Company Fred Dixon participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony outside Broadway's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.
(© Lia Chang)

Manhattan Theatre Club celebrated its grand return to live performances last night at the Samuel J. Friedman, where Ruben Santiago-Hudson performed the first preview of his solo play, Lackawanna Blues. The official opening night will be September 28.

Guests included actors Brian Stokes Mitchell and S. Epatha Merkerson, as well as State Senator Brad Hoylman and Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney. The group celebrated the occasion with a ribbon-cutting ceremony outside the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.

Junior Mack and Ruben Santiago-Hudson appear onstage for the first preview of Lackawanna Blues on Broadway.
(© Lia Chang)

Written, performed, and directed by Tony Award winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson, with original music by Bill Sims Jr. performed on stage by Grammy Award-nominated blues guitarist Junior Mack, Lackawanna Blues tells the true story of a big-hearted woman who runs a boarding house outside Buffalo — and who was instrumental in Santiago-Hudson's childhood. The actor-director portrays over 20 vibrant characters over the course of this theatrical tribute with music.

The creative team for Ruben Santiago-Hudson's Lackawanna Blues includes Michael Carnahan (scenic design), Karen Perry (costume design), Jen Schriever (lighting design), and Darron L West (sound design).

Nanny's Band (Ayode Maakheru on vocals/guitar, Booker King on bass, Barry Harrison on drums, Matthew Skoller on harmonica) performs outside the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre for the first preview of Lackawanna Blues.
(© Lia Chang)

Lackawanna Blues appeared off-Broadway at the Public Theatre in 2001, earning Obie Awards for both Ruben Santiago-Hudson and Bill Sims Jr. According to TheaterMania's review, "The piece shines with the incandescence of a mammoth sun."