(NEWARK, NJ) -- TaNisha Fordham Productions in association with the City of Newark, announces the World Premiere of the new musical TaNisha Fordham’s Snatch Yo' Free, written, directed, musical production, produced by and starring this year’s American Express Directing Fellow, Broadway Theatre Coalition’s Directing Fellow, and the current Associate Director of the 5 Time Tony Award Winning Broadway Musical Company, TaNisha Fordham. As the city of Newark NJ’s 2nd annual Theater in the Park event this year’s musical production is free, open to the public, and continues to create access and a bridge to Broadway level productions right in the heart of Newark. Performances take place July 22 & 29, August 5 & 12, 2022 at Mulberry Commons Park in front of the Prudential Center.
This is a hip hop musical for the ages: conveyed through free movement, spoken word artistry, music performance, group dance, rap, call-and-response/ interactive theater, hip-hop, synchronized movement, live visual art, and play (yes actual games) “THE EGOT” calls to audiences inviting them to experience and be apart of a journey that won’t be soon forgotten.
Inspired by the ideas of freedom, destiny, community and joy Fordham curated a written amalgamation of herstory. Identity, faith, hope, love, race, the pervasive and unavoidable nature of obstacles, overcoming hopelessness, overcoming self-doubt, and community are some of the themes explored throughout the piece.
“TaNisha Fordham the EGOT” the poetic narrative (novel), from which the new musical was adapted, was released to the public June 12, 2022, Tony Night, and ushers in the musical production which encourages audiences to, “Snatch Yo' Free.” Tony Night, was a very appropriate release date as the book and musical are, “The saga of one girl’s epic journey to Snatch Her Free.”
Fordham, who currently holds the position of Associate Director on the Broadway revival of Company, has recently been inspired by the theme of freedom, true freedom, from waiting for the validation of others, “It isn’t lost on me how often I feel out of place here at the Bernard E. Jacobs Theater. Even as one of the Associate Directors on the team I often feel out of place; It’s no one’s fault, really. No one is, ‘doing,’ anything, specifically. I don’t have war stories, necessarily, about some great injustice that’s been directed at me. In fact, I was first selected as a directing fellow with the Black Theater Coalition (BTC) for the rehearsal process of Company. But then, the producer and director decided to keep me; they saw me. They acknowledged me and validated that I was contributing in this space. Yet still, I feel most days like I’ve felt most of my life: I just don’t quite fit.”
TaNisha Fordham’s Snatch Yo' Free is an unabashed celebration of who we already are regardless of what we will become. Also Snatch Yo' Free asks the challenging questions: Why do certain people and communities not have access to opportunity/acknowledgement? Are we going to wait for acknowledgement and access to stand up and be counted? Allow Fordham to respond, the answer is, “No. We will not wait.” In fact, this free and open to the public theater event, founded by Fordham in 2021, is one example of communities making opportunities and bridges where there might otherwise be walls and ceilings. Though Newark sits directly on the border of NYC, the city, and many of its experiences and opportunities can prove to be inaccessible for some Newark residents. The rising cost of travel, the time it takes to commute, access to information about experiences and opportunities all serve as a “barrier of entry,” of sorts. This event (and production), centers community, access, opportunity and hope.
The production, written in rhyme (as is the novel) with hip-hop, funk, soul, traditional musical theater, gospel, neo-soul, and spoken word nods, celebrates community, not only as a theme of the production, but also in how the team was meticulously curated with love and care. Phaedra Foreman, the Artistic Assistant, is a graduating high school senior who has been Fordham’s apprentice for the past four years and has assisted Fordham with film and theater productions across the country. Rescue Poetix, the Production Stage Manager, is the current Poet Laureate of Jersey City, NJ and an impeccably committed community artist and activist. The Lab Sisterz is a Newark, NJ based dance group that has several viral videos across social media platforms; this group is a group of young ladies whose ages range from 16 with the oldest member and CEO, Zaneyah, being 22. Fordham was committed to the idea that the ideals represented in this musical should be visible in the makeup of the cast and creative team; we are enough. We have all that we need to make a difference. If there aren’t opportunities available, we make them.
“This ain't just a story. This is a lesson. And, maybe... Just maybe… Some kind of a blessin'. This is a story, a saga, you see of one little ole girl Snatching Her Free! She ain't bound by no rules. Not conforming; that's key! But instead just determined to be who she be. And, she is like... you. She is! Can't you see? Can't you see? Can't you see what you're destined to be? Free! That's the point. It's incredulously liberating. It should fill you with glee! It is what it is, what it is, what it be… You were fashioned and formed to be free. Emmys and Grammys and Oscars and such — They're good. They're great. They have a nice touch. Awards and titles and money and fame, They have their place. But, keep this in frame: you are great. And, you are good. You are enough in every hood. And if someone ain't with it, well… That someone can go straight to — This ain't just a story. Now do you see? This is an edict. This is a decree. The time is now, it has to be. Go on now; Snatch Yo' Free.”
“TaNisha Fordham the EGOT” will be available June 12, 2022 on Amazon and Barnes and Nobles. The poetic narrative (novel) is accessibly priced in hopes that finance will not be a barrier to the inspiration and hope that Fordham knows the novel will insight. TaNisha Fordham the EGOT, the New Musical, will have its World Premiere July 22 & 29, August 5 & 12, 2022 at Mulberry Commons Park in front of the Prudential Center in Newark NJ. The Theater in the Park event is free, open to the public, and an event for the entire family – you can even bring your furry friends. Seating will be available on a first come, first served basis but attendees are encouraged to bring their favorite chair or blanket. Vendors will be available on site; Fordham will be doing a book signing immediately following the production. “TaNisha Fordham the EGOT” will also be available on site.
TaNisha Fordham (Director, Producer, Playwright, Music Producer, Starring).
Cast: Alayna Miller, Rahbert Britt, Donna Glaesener.
Shayla Mitchell (Associate Director), Phaedra Foreman (Artistic Assistant), Rescue Poetics (Production Stage Manager), Lab Sisterz (Choreography; Featured Dancers), Tricia Cooke (Artistic Designer), Mark Goble (Music Producer), DXOR (Music Producer), Freddie Mae Fordham (Producer), Monroe Fordham (Producer), Pamela Fordham (Producer), Robert Alston (Producer), Mayor Ras Baraka, Trevor Phillips, American Express, Broadway Theatre Coalition (Special Thanks), Sponsored by The City of Newark NJ.