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Vanessa Williams, Cicely Tyson forge a bond on Broadway

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Harlem Arts Alliance Presents: On the “A” w/Souleo

All-star cast rehearsals for a major Broadway show can be filled with pressure and anxiety. But for The Trip to Bountiful cast it’s also about style, Chipotle and history lessons. During the press conference at Sardi’s Restaurant in New York City for the revival of Horton Foote’s classic play actors Cicely Tyson, Cuba Gooding Jr., Vanessa Williams and Condola Rashad shared their rehearsal memories before the showwhich previews on March 30.

In the play, Williams portrays an emotionally cold daughter-in-law to Tyson’s character who sets about a journey to return to her home of Bountiful, Texas for one last time. During rehearsals however,  Williams became so fond of Tyson that she bought her an expensive and stylish gift. “I came in one day wearing a pair of new lace-up navy high heel sneakers from Nike and Ms. Tyson commented on them. So I surprised her and gave her a pair,” says Williams.

But Tyson, a style icon, is in no rush to wear the heels. “I haven’t worn them yet. I can put those on the dresser and they will stay there and I will admire them for years before I put them on,” she says.

Williams also connected with fellow cast member, Condola Rashad as the two revealed their mutual appreciation of Chipotle (smoked chili) for lunch. Yet, what Rashad revealed what she loves more than Chipotle or acting is music.  The Tony-nominee has formed her self-titled rock band and is preparing for a tentative summer release of her debut album, Letter9. “My music is my first passion,” she notes. “It’s different music, new and what people want to hear. It’s a rock band. I didn’t think my mother (Phylicia Rashad),  was gonna like it but she does.”

For Gooding, acting remains his first love. The experience of preparing for this production has taught him new lessons about African-American history as the play takes place in the racially tense climate of the American South during 1953. “I haven’t been this in-depth in creating a character since Radio and Boyz N the Hood.  I’ve learned more about the civil rights movement.

There was much to learn at the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce‘s Quarterly Sponsors Meeting, co-hosted by the Chamber and the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square. The focus was on tourism and its impact on jobs creation, business development and arts and culture. 

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