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hangar Queens Girl

At 7:30 pm. EDT on Saturday, July 11, the Hangar Theatre Company will perform a virtual production of Queens Girl in the World, directed by Godfrey L. Simmons, Jr.

Queens Girl In The World tells the Motown-infused story of Jacqueline Marie Butler, a Black teenager coming of age in the 1960s in New York City. Her joys, challenges, and heartbreak serve as a unique lens to the civil rights movement as she journeys from her neighborhood in Queens to an exclusive private school in Greenwich Village. A semi-autobiographical piece from playwright Caleen Sinnette Jennings, Queens Girl In The World is the first in a trilogy of works which also includes Queens Girl in Africa and Queens Girl: Black in the Green Mountains. The Hangar Theatre Company hopes to produce a live production of this play at the theatre in the summer of 2021.

Playwright Caleen Sinnette Jennings, a professor of performing arts at American University in Washington, DC, has made a career in channeling her powerful voice into her acting and writing. Jennings has received five nominations for outstanding new play from the Helen Hayes Awards, as well as playwriting awards from the Kennedy Center and Actors Theatre of Louisville. Jennings wrote in a program note for the play’s West Coast premiere that, “The bonds between people are stronger than our divisions.” She reflects that “while names have been changed, while characters have been omitted and conflated, everything that happened to Jacqueline Marie Butler happened to me.”

Director Godfrey L. Simmons, Jr. previously directed the Big Play Festival! production of A Raisin in the Sun at the Hangar Theatre in 2019. He is the co-founder of the Civic Ensemble in Ithaca, NY, a non-profit community theatre group dedicated to creating theatre that explores and explodes the social, political, and cultural issues of our time. Simmons served as Artistic Director there for seven years before assuming the helm of HartBeat Ensemble in Hartford, Connecticut in fall 2019. Godfrey said, “It’s an interesting time to be engaging with a true coming-of-age story with what’s happening in the U.S. and the world right now. But Jennings is masterful at leavening the sweetness of that time with the real danger and possibility that lurked right around the corner in 1960s New York City.”

Vernice Miller will be starring as the lead role of Jacqueline Marie Butler. She has starred in numerous New York City productions including All God’s Chillun Got Wings (also directed by Godfrey L. Simmons), Disorderly Conduct - Brave New World: American Theater Responds to 9/11 (directed by George C. White), Lysistrata Project (directed by Ellen McLaughlin), Eve’s Song (directed by Jo Bonney), and The Trial of One Short-Sighted Black Woman (directed by Paul Carter Harrison). Her Jamaican reinterpretation of Euripides’ Medea garnered her the London New Play Festival’s Best Actress Award. “I am absolutely delighted at the opportunity to inhabit the life of Jacqueline Marie Butler,” Miller shared. “Especially in light of the clear resonances with my own life as a Jamaican girl raised in a New York City borough”.

The production and design team includes Costume Coordinator Megan Rutherford, Sound Designer Lance Perl, Video Producers Griffin Schultz and Chrissy Guest, Equity Production Stage Manager Mackenzie Trowbridge, and Assistant Stage Manager Kat Taylor.

This production is the third of five unique artistic virtual experiences the Hangar Theatre is presenting as its 2020 Mainstage season. Previous productions include The Skin Of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder and Uncommon Excerpts: The Wendy Chronicles. Remaining productions include Honk Your Horn: Celebrate! Musical! Theatre! on July 25, and Sense and Sensibility, adapted from Jane Austen by Kate Hamill, on August 8.

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