A new edition of Stewart F. Lane’s BLACK BROADWAY: AFRICAN AMERICANS ON THE GREAT WHITE WAY is now available. Through both words and over 300 photographs the book documents the career achievements of African-American actors and actresses whose names light up marquees on Broadway and Off-Broadway, alongside a running timeline of African-American history. BLACK BROADWAY celebrates the performers, playwrights, songwriters, directors, choreographers and designers who changed the complexion and character of American theatre.
The book explores African-American contribution from some of the earliest stories to the present day. In the mid-1800s, the popularity of minstrel shows grew by leaps and bounds. While the depiction of Black identity was demeaning in many cases, it allowed African-American performers to ply their trade, and soon, a number of them were playing to full houses. In the 1880s, vaudeville emerged, and until the early 1930s, it was a national showcase for artists such as Bert Williams and George Walker, Ella Fitzgerald, Ethel Waters, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, and Duke Ellington. By the 1920s, the Jazz Age was in full swing, allowing Black songwriters and entertainers to reach ever-widening audiences. During the 1950s and ’60s, many more people of color – including Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, and Sidney Poitier – found their voice on stage in truly worthy productions, some of which were created by daring black playwrights. Each decade, more progress was made, as African-American artists not only wrote and performed, but also shaped the Broadway experience through directing and producing, creating shows as varied as the Pulitzer-Prize winning drama FENCES and the powerfully moving musical BRING IN ‘DA NOISE, BRING IN ‘DA FUNK.
The book features a foreword from Tony-award winning Broadway director Kenny Leon, who calls Black Broadway “a unique tribute to the many African-American actors, directors, playwrights, and others who have contributed to the fabric of American theater.”
Stewart F. Lane is the six-time Tony Award-winning producer of LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, THE WILL ROGERS FOLLIES, THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE, THE TWO AND ONLY, WAR HORSE, and A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE & MURDER. He has also produced in London, where his shows have won an Olivier. He has served on the Board of Directors of the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center and the Transitional Committee, where he appointed both the Commissioner for Cultural Affairs and the Commissioner of Film, Theater, and Broadcasting. Currently, he serves on the Board of Governors for the Actors Fund of America. Mr. Lane is also the author of LET’S PUT ON A SHOW! and JEWS ON BROADWAY.