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City of Seattle
Ed Murray, Mayor

SUBJECT: Urban Opera, Bobos, Makes Its Seattle Debut At Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center

7/23/2009  5:24:00 AM
Christina Hirsch  (206) 684-7241

Urban Opera Makes Its Seattle Debut
Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center
hosts 13th Annual Teen Summer Musical Program with “Bobos”

Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center (LHPAC) presents its 13th Annual Teen Summer Musical – Bobos. The summer musical is back at LHPAC after 12 years offsite.  The much anticipated summer musical program is one of the oldest summer youth theatre programs in Seattle.

Written by award winning playwright Ed Shockley, this urban opera examines tough choices facing youth in the streets of Seattle.  It is also described as "the future of musical theatre" by legendary composer arranger Quincy Jones.  The music is by Grammy Award winning composer and bestselling novelist James McBride (Miracle at St. Anna). 

In the early nineties, the premiere production set a box office record at the American Music Theatre Festival, then went on to win several major awards including the Richard Rodgers Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Stephen Sondheim Award for Outstanding Contributions to American Musical Theatre. 

The story line involves Alfred, played by 15-year-old JK Lewis. Alfred’s parents give him Bobos (cheap, bargain basement knockoffs) for his thirteenth birthday.  No one understands his dilemma, and so it's out into the streets where he is promptly tortured by the entire neighborhood including the Autobots, a local gang led by Brick, played by Jayson Lowe.  Gerald, an undercover cop posing as a homeless man, played by Otieno Terry, tries to help and things turn ugly.  Alfred is tempted to take the wrong path.  Other characters engaged in this dilemma are Phyllis, the mother of the community, played by Michaelyn Thomas and Chelsea MuskellyHeleina Gartrell and Kianna Lewis play Doris, the dorky friend of Alfred’s family.

Bobos is directed by Isiah Anderson, Jr., LHPAC Teen Development Leader.  The Musical Director, Michelle Lang, is a composer and vocalist, well known for working magic with young voices.  Noted local musician and producer, Eugene Bien came straight from a gig with Ronnie Laws to work with James McBride’s score as Music Producer.  Maxie Jamal, a former summer musical cast member as a teen, returns to LHPAC as choreographer.  The sets and costumes are by Kevin Krist and Deborah Sorensen respectively, who have defined the artistic elements for the summer musical for many years.

The majority of our young cast members are receiving their first exposure to the theatrical arts.  LHPAC supports tomorrow’s talent today by recognizing teen artistic growth and development.  Returning kids enthusiastically continue their arts education, and it shows in the production.  Each day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., for eight solid weeks, youth participate in daily theatrical programs that teach, nurture and offer kids a lifetime experience.

Bobos is appropriate for all ages.  Performances will be held at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, 104 17th Avenue South in central Seattle. Shows run Aug. 17, 18, 19 (1 p.m.) Aug. 20, 21, 22 (1 p.m. and 7 p.m.) and Aug. 23 (3 p.m.) Ticket prices range from $4 to $12.  Tickets are available through or by calling 206- 386-1177. Tickets may also be purchased in person at the LHPAC before the performance.

LHPAC's Summer Musical Program is made possible through the generous support of Seattle Parks and Recreation, the Mayor's Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, 4Culture, Artsfund, and individual contributions.

Historical Overview --The popular Summer Musical Program is an inspiring cultural arts program that, since its inception in 1996, has served more than 1,770 culturally diverse youth and provided breathtaking performances to almost 75,000 audience members. The program predates most of the other current summer theatre programs and is a testament to the power the arts can have on opening doors of discovery for young people.  Past productions include “Uncle Willy’s Chocolate Factory,” “The Wiz,”  “Soul of Beauty and the Beast,”GREASE: The Way We Do It,” “Summer Rhapsody-the Reunion,” “Cinderella-A Love Story with the Sound of Motown”, and last year’s Snow White & The 7: Each One Teach One”.

Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center was established in 1969 as a dynamic and creative cultural arts center under the Model Cities Urban Renewal program. Created to provide a cultural institution in Seattle’s Central Area as a place where arts specific to the African American experience could be taught, explored, expressed, and enjoyed by all, LHPAC has been at the core of experimental, cutting edge, traditional, and emerging art forms continuously for more than 30 years.

Bobos cast interviews and photos are available by request through Sandra Boas-DuPree at 206-386-4608 or


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