Jasmine Guy has a regular presence on film, television, and stage. She was the star of the Bill Cosby spin-off A Different World for which she won six consecutive NAACP Image Awards. Recent television work includes The Vampire Diaries, Melrose Place, NYPD Blue, and Dead Like Me. A former dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, she has also appeared in a range of Broadway and national productions including Chicago, Grease, and The Wiz. On film, she starred in Spike Lee's School Daze, as well as in Harlem Nights, and Stompin at the Savoy. Her collaborations over the years, from Bill Cosby to Spike Lee to Kenny Leon to the Atlanta Ballet, show her to be a multi-faceted star. Ms. Guy is not only recognized as an accomplished actress, singer, and comedienne, but also as a director, writer, and speaker.
Avery Sharpe is considered one of the greatest Jazz bassists of his generation. He has performed and toured with many of the world's top jazz musicians including Wynton Marsalis, Dizzy Gillespie, Cab Calloway, Bobby McFerrin, Pay Metheny and others. Sharpe’s extraordinary compositional skills are on display in Raisin’ Cane. His exceptional works have been performed in every musical configuration from orchestras to the Grammy Award Winning Jazz recordings of Michael Brecker and McCoy Tyner. For performances of Raisin' Cane, Mr. Sharpe is joined by the renowned percussionist Kevin Sharpe and violinist Diane Monroe.
Diane Monroe, former first violinist of the Max Roach Double Quartet and a Curtis Institute of Music graduate, now enjoys a musical life performing in and composing for her jazz sextet and quartet, violin/vibraphone duo with Tony Miceli, and other collaborative and educational projects. She has also recently performed with saxophonists Steve Wilson and Bobby Zankel, pianists Bruce Barth, Renee Rosnes, Tom Lawton, guitarist Monette Sudler, bassists Tony Marino, Lee Smith, Avery Sharpe and Gerald Veasley, and drummer/percussionists Rogerio Boccato and Arturo Stable. Ms. Monroe's quartet appeared at the 2012 Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz festival at the Kennedy Center. She led the Steve Wilson's String ensemble at the 2012 Dupont Clifford Brown and Detroit Jazz festivals. Monroe has just completed music to "The Self Evident Poem" from the book Quilting the Black Eyed Pea by poetess/activist Nikki Giovanni that was premiered at Virginia Tech University.
Multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Kevin Sharpe began his musical career at the age of seven singing gospel in his church choir. By age eleven he was playing drums for that same choir and eventually became one of the primary drummers for the Church of God in Christ in the region.
Later in college he studied classical percussion, arranging and choral conducting. The Springfield, Massachusetts native also studied voice with Dr. Horace Clarence Boyer and improvisation with Yusef Lateef.
Since graduating with degrees in Music Education and Jazz Performance he has performed with jazz artists Archie Shepp, Charles Greenlee, Avery Sharpe and Steve Turré. He’s done recordings with John Blake, Fellowship, soul diva Betty Harris and others. He was the conductor of the orchestral work "A Celebration of Family Community and the Life of Primus Mason" for the Springfield Arts Festival, and guest conductor of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra's Holiday Pops concert. He's toured Europe as a vocalist and instrumentalist. He's been a choral director for Dartmouth and Smith Colleges and he has also worked for several years as writer, music director and vocalist in the contemporary gospel group "Fellowship".
He is also a 2007 winner of the New England Urban Music Award, and currently is the leader of the modern Gospel ensemble "The Kevin Sharpe Group", drummer/percussionist/arranger in the “K. Sharpe Project” a jazz based instrumental group, bassist with the Unorthodox Groove Band, and workshop leader/producer/engineer at SwingHigh Productions. Mr. Sharpe uses Noble & Cooley drums, Vic Firth sticks, and La Bella strings.
Harry Clark's career as both cellist and playwright is a rare combination The cello part started long before the playwright part, age 10, and year's later, practice practice, his performance in Carnegie Hall was described by the NY Times this way: A first rate cellist, the sort who can make his instrument interesting for anybody. Clark and his partner-pianist wife, Sanda Schuldmann, have appeared as a duo on every important musical stage in America and abroad, having premiered and recorded some five dozen works by this country's most prominent composers.
In 1980, Harry & Sanda living in Connecticut, co-founded Chamber Music PLUS . Chamber Music PLUS was their dream to present concerts of the highest quality while breaking down walls about accepted repertoire, artists, and concert presentation itself. Thirty years later much of their dream has been realized with state, regional and national awards for distinguished performance and programming. They have maintained this tradition with their move back to Harry"s hometown, Tucson, and now present series in Scottsdale, Chandler and the Old Pueblo.
With this desire for distinctive programming, Harry began his first efforts writing portraits of composers, this body of work nearing forty scripts, is now entitled RHYTHMS OF LIFE – fusions of theater and music. RHYTHMS OF LIFE have become the signature programming of Chamber Music PLUS, and over the past decade audiences from coast-to-coast have taken to it with enthusiasm. The Hartford Courant describes it as: An extraordinary interweaving of music and biography...his work has passion, joy, and mystery. And the Arizona Daily Star writes: from his mighty pen Clark has inked a classical-music program that"s both inviting and exhilarating for the learned and ignorant ear alike.
Harry's had the great fortune and pleasure to work with a who's who of film, television and stage actors in RHYTHMS OF LIFE. The roster includes: Jill Clayburgh, Theodore Bikel, Edward Herrmann, Barbara Feldon, Mason Adams, Keir Dullea, Philip Bosco, Hayley Mills, Harvey Fierstein, Caroline Kava, Rosemary Prinz, Sandy Duncan, Tovah Feldshuh, Jessica Walter, Michael Learned, Ron Leibman, Sharon Gless, Jean Marsh, Elke Sommer, Kathleen Chalfant, Katherine Helmond, Stephanie and Efrem Zimbalist, Jasmine Guy, Talia Shire, Jenny Sterlin, John Rubinstein, Margot Kidder, Robert Picardo, Armin Shimerman, Shirley Knight, Lou Gossett, Jr, Bob Clendenin, John Schuck, and Lynn Redgrave.
Moving from chamber presentations to orchestral portraits has been a most welcome innovation with recent commissions by the Hartford Symphony (Charles Ives), Orchestra New England (Ira Gershwin/ Robert Picardo), and half a dozen other scripts in conductor’s and musical director’s hands awaiting performance. Among these are Confidentially, Chaikovski and Dvorak"s New World.
Clark’s cellistic passion to commission composers has yielded three substantial stage pieces with original scores. The first, Raisin’ Cane: A Harlem Renaissance Odyssey, starring Jasmine Guy, features a distinguished score by jazz bassist and composer, Avery Sharpe. Raisin' Cane, originally supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, has toured nationally with a very special stop at Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater. To celebrate the museum’s opening: Maynard Dixon’s Arizona, The Tucson Museum commissioned Clark to write a work on this most influential western artist. Dixon was portrayed by John Schuck, with an evocative score for guitar and cello by Brad Richter. Currently, renowned composer Libby Larsen, is finishing incidental music for Clark's recent play: Mesmeric Mozart.
As a natural progression from cellist, to stage portraitist, Clark is now crafting plays – some with incidental music, others having no music and no musical motives. Mesmeric Mozart is one such play with incidental music, another, one of his most frequently performed is Still Life: Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’ Keeffe. In commemoration of Kahlo’s 50th death year, Lincoln Financial Group and the NEA funded this historical fiction drama. The work was premiered at the Arizona Theatre Company and then moved to Albuquerque’s National Hispanic Cultural Center. Still Life is being translated to Spanish in preparation for performances throughout Mexico next season.
Among his non-musical plays are Clouds in Heaven (Laura Bridgman, the first deafblind child to learn language). The Combination, his return to Tucson work; Sarabande for Ezra, a famed cellist’s final performance at Carnegie Hall; and Pluto Déjà vu, seven characters in a book club. Pluto Déjà vu was selected as a finalist by the Eugene O’Neill Theater for it 2008 summer festival.
Harry’s works have been ably directed by such stage directors as Rob Ruggiero, Samantha Wyer, Howard Allen, Troy Hollar, Dan Guerrero, Cindy Meier and Deborah Lavine.
Harry now resides in Tucson, where he shares his life with Sanda and their two Welsh terriers – Mic and Lola. Mic enjoys the pool, while Lola runs for her life from it.
Dan Guerrero began his entertainment career in New York where he was a successful theatrical agent with clients in the original casts of countless Broadway musicals in the years from A Chorus Line to Cats. He returned home to Los Angeles for an equally successful time as a casting director for stage and television before turning his talents to producing and directing.
He has long been acclaimed as a highly creative independent producer of diverse programming for network and cable television including NBC, HBO and PBS. More recently, he has specialized in producing and directing non-broadcast international arts and culture events and plays at such prestigious venues as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque and the Cite de la Musique in Paris, France.
Live productions include the world premiere of Concierto para Mendez for the Los Angeles Opera at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion; a celebrity staged reading of the play In Darfur at the Los Angeles Theatre Center, the Arabesque: Arts of the Arab World concert event at the Kennedy Center Opera House and the 2008 and 2009 United States Artists Fellows Celebration at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and The Broad Stage in Santa Monica, respectively.
Guerrero also co-produced and co-wrote Lalo Guerrero: The Original Chicano, an award-winning documentary on his late father, Chicano music icon Lalo Guerrero. The film aired nationally on PBS stations and included a DVD/CD release. It has also screened at national and international Film Festivals including the Turks & Caicos International Film Festival where the film garnered awards for Best Documentary, Best Director and Best Song.
The eclectic producer/director is currently working with Linda Ronstadt to produce and stage her Mariachi and Mexican Heritage Festival in San Jose, California and is thrilled to be back with Ms. Jasmine Guy and the Avery Sharpe Trio in Raisin’ Cane after a tour that included a performance at New York’s historic Apollo Theatre.
Gregg Bellón is a performer, director, writer, designer, and production manager. Recent Off-Broadway credits: Stuffed & Unstrung (Prod. Mgr, Union Square Th; Henson Alternative/Westbeth ent.); American Hwangap (Prod. Mgr, Wild Project, Play CO./Ma-Yi TC); Wild Thing (Director, Theater at PCC, New Acting Co.); Soul Samurai (Prod. Mgr, HERE Arts, MaYi/Vampire Cowboys TC), Spiegelworld (Prod. Mgr., Spiegel LP); Eddie Izzard Stripped (Prod. Mgr, US Nat’l Tour, Westbeth Entertainment), Frankenstien: A New Musical (Prod. Mgr/Tech Dir., 37Arts, Goehring Evans Prods., Dir: Bill Fennelly), Margaret Cho’s Sensuous Woman (Prod. Mgr., Zipper Theater, Westbeth Entertainment, Dir: Randall Rapstine). National Tours: Cinematic Titanic (Prod. Mgr, U.S., 2009); Eddie Izzard Stripped (Production Manager, U.S./U.K., 08-Present), Billy Connolly’s Too Old to Die Young (Tour/Prod. Mgr., North America, 06-Present); Jasmine Guy's Raisin' Cane featuring the Avery Sharpe Trio (Lighting Des/Prod. Mgr, U.S., 2008). Festival Technical Supervisor, the New York International Fringe Festival. Artistic Director, Hudson Exploited Theater Company. Founder and Director of Production Consolidated, a full-service production company dedicated to a holistic approach to theater production; for more info, check out www.ProductionConsolidated.com. As always, for Nick.
Daniel Foster has served as director, shooter and editor for a variety of domestic and international productions. His projection design has been featured by the LA Opera, Center Theatre Group, the Los Angeles Theatre Center, Renberg Theatre, Walker Art Center, Dupont Theatre, Cornerstone Theater and PBS. Foster's short film "Airborn" was awarded "Best Experimental Film" by the International Festival of Cinema and Technology. His extensive work in SE Asia includes Balinese and Thai travel shows and the feature documentary, USS Cooper: Return to Ormoc Bay, which received a "Best Documentary" nomination from the Asia First Film Festival in Singapore. He has also created films for Novica, in association with the National Geographic, in Africa and SE Asia. He is also a writer, publishing in the Los Angeles Times, Details, Esquire, the Harvard Business review, on National Public Radio and other outlets. He has taught writing at UCLA Extension, Santa Monica College and California University Long Beach and Northridge. www.FosterImage.com