Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater announces the world-premiere musical American Prophet, directed and co-written by award-winning playwright Charles Randolph-Wright (Broadway’s Motown The Musical) and featuring new music by Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and co-script writer Marcus Hummon. The musical chronicles the life and legacy of one of the most notable human rights leaders of the 19th century, Frederick Douglass. Known as one of the greatest leaders of the abolitionist movement, Douglass was a prominent activist, author, orator and statesman. His own words power the soaring new melodies and original script. Directed by Randolph-Wright, American Prophet runs July 10 – August 16, 2020 in the Kreeger Theater.
Arena Stage is excited to welcome back Randolph-Wright after his world-premiere production Born For This: The BeBe Winans Story. Randolph-Wright was a member of the inaugural class of resident playwrights. During his time at Arena, he has amassed an impressive repertoire of works including Blue, Cuttin’ Up, Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies, Ruined, Love in Afghanistan and more. American Prophet marks his twelfth show at Arena.
“Frederick Douglass always has been the ultimate hero to me, and American Prophet is one of the most inspiring projects I have ever done at Arena,” shares Randolph-Wright. “What a perfect place and a perfect time to tell this extraordinary and necessary story. How did this escaped slave become one of the most important people of the 19th century – of any century? The answer is in Douglass’ own words, and Marcus Hummon and I are proud and humbled to help bring these transcendent words to the stage.”
“When Charles Randolph-Wright shared the first Marcus Hummon songs with me, they took my breath away. Marrying some of Frederick Douglass’ words to beautiful music is powerful,” explains Artistic Director Molly Smith. “It’s rare to focus on Frederick Douglass in the theater—and his time is now. What he has to say about freedom and life in America has great resonance for us today.”
Kenneth B. Morris Jr. is proud to see his family history come to life on the stage. Morris is a descendant from two of the most influential names in American history. He is the great-great-great grandson of Frederick Douglass and the great-great grandson of Booker T. Washington. He is also the co-founder and President of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives.
“Frederick Douglass’ legacy as a social reformer reminds us all of our inherent dignity and our duty to uphold the inalienable rights of all members of the human family. I am humbled that Marcus Hummon and Charles Randolph-Wright found inspiration in the life story of my great ancestor,” explains Morris Jr. “On behalf of the Douglass family, I thank them and the American Prophet team for animating his life and that of my great-great-great-grandmother, Anna Murray-Douglass. I pray that the spirit of Frederick and Anna will live intensely in the hearts and minds of everyone who has an opportunity to attend this powerful Arena Stage production.”
Full casting will be announced at a later date.
Following a reading at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in 2018, American Prophet is produced in association with Reggie Hill.
To hear a preview of some of the music from American Prophet, please visit arenastage.org/tickets/
For additional information about American Prophet, visit: americanprophetthemusical.com