Charles Randolph-Wright (‘Motown’) will direct the world premiere of the new musical American Prophet July 10–August 16, 2020, in the Kreeger Theater at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.
Featuring a book by Randolph-Wright and music by Grammy winner Marcus Hummon, who also co-wrote the book, the musical chronicles the life and legacy of human rights leaders Frederick Douglass. Known as one of the greatest leaders of the abolitionist movement, Douglass was a prominent activist, author, orator, and statesman.Frederick Douglass, will be portrayed by Cornelius Smith Jr. (ABC’sScandal, How to Get Away with Murder).
Douglass’ own words power the soaring new melodies and original script from Grammy Award-winning songwriter Marcus Hummon and Randolph-Wright. The daring and heart-stirring new work moves through Douglass’ life as a fierce abolitionist and distinguished orator featuring interactions with key figures including President Abraham Lincoln and his own wife, Anna Murray-Douglass, without whom his defiant escape from slavery would not have been possible.
Filled with electrifying new songs including “What Does Freedom Look Like,” “We Need a Fire” and “A More Perfect Union,” the world premiere will celebrate the enduring legacy of one of history’s first freedom fighters.
“Frederick Douglass always has been the ultimate hero to me, and American Prophet is one of the most inspiring projects I have ever done at Arena,” stated Randolph-Wright. “What a perfect place and a perfect time to tell this extraordinary and necessary story. How did this escaped slave become one of the most important people of the 19th century—of any century? The answer is in Douglass’ own words, and Marcus Hummon and I are proud and humbled to help bring these transcendent words to the stage.”
Kenneth B. Morris Jr., who is the great-great-great grandson of Douglass (as well as the great-great grandson of Booker T. Washington), added, “Frederick Douglass’ legacy as a social reformer reminds us all of our inherent dignity and our duty to uphold the inalienable rights of all members of the human family. I am humbled that Marcus Hummon and Charles Randolph-Wright found inspiration in the life story of my great ancestor. On behalf of the Douglass family, I thank them and the American Prophet team for animating his life and that of my great-great-great-grandmother, Anna Murray-Douglass. I pray that the spirit of Frederick and Anna will live intensely in the hearts and minds of everyone who has an opportunity to attend this powerful Arena Stage production.”
American Prophet, which received a reading at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in 2018, is produced in association with Reggie Hill.