12 years a slave (cast & director)

Director Steve McQueen is surrounded by his enormously gifted cast of his hit movie 12 Years a Slave at the New York Film Festival premiere at Lincoln Center (left to right) Paul Dano, Chiwete Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong’o, Steve McQueen, Sarah Paulson, Alfre Woodard & Michael Fassbender (Photo courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures)

*Lord knows that we are having serious race relations in this country!

I guess that’s why I anxiously looked forward to screening one of the most expressively performed and fervently directed films to come down the pike in years — the epic movie 12 Years a Slave — fearlessly directed by Steve McQueen and daringly depicted on screen by screenwriter John Ridley.

Based on a memoir of freeman Solomon Northup, Ridley captures the nuances of a slave’s life that’s movingly captured on film by McQueen’s regular cameraman Sean Bobbit.

The powerful movie about the vital subject of slavery stars Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free Black man who was abducted in Washington, D.C. in 1841from upstate New York and sold into slavery by James Burch (Paul Giamatti) to gentleman farmer William Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch).  Northup eventually winds up in the hands of agonizing slave owner (Michael Fassbender).

12 Years a Slave is based on a hard to believe and digest true story of one man’s fight for survival and freedom in the pre-Civil War United States era in which he faces cruelty at the hands of an execrable slave owner (Michael Fassbender).  Solomon’s wish to stay alive and to be reunited with his family who he was snatched from sustains his struggles to stay alive while protecting his dignity.  Back then, this appeared to be a typical emotion with indentured slaves – keeping their dignity in check.  Case in point, the countless beatings the slaves endured while trying to hold their heads up high.  Some made it.  For others, their prideful stance was the perfect posture for a hanging.

In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian carpenter Samuel Bass (abolitionist Brad Pitt) was the life changer that returned him back to his family and his free slave status.  This film is an emotional rollercoaster and is not for the faint at heart or anyone that refuses to deal with the reality of troubling race relations in America that – like Solomon — only the strong will survive.

After receiving critical acclaim and winning the distinguished People’s Choice Award at the esteemed Toronto International Film Festival 12 Years a Slave received raucous acceptance at the coveted closing night featured movie at the New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center on Tuesday, October 8, 2013 that was attended by director McQueen and some of the film’s exceptionally talented cast members Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o, Adepero Oduye, Paul Dano and Alfre Woodard.  The film also stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Paulson, and the film’s iconic producer Brad Pitt.  The film is set to release nationwide by Fox Searchlight Pictures on Friday, October 18, 2013.

The Oscar buzz on this film is through the roof!  “I am honored that 12 Years a Slave will be presented at the New York Film Festival in association with Film Comment” said director, Steve McQueen. “For me, this feels like a true home-coming for Solomon as he was from New York and I’m delighted that his story can be celebrated here.”

glass menagerie

Critically-acclaimed cast of “The Glass Menagerie” attend splashy Opening Night party at 5-star Redeye Grill Restaurant (left to right) Cherry Jones, Brian J. Smith, Celia Keenan-Bolger, and Zachary Quinto (Photo courtesy Bruce Glikas / Broadway.com)

*The Glass Menagerie opened on Broadway on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at The Booth Theatre, 222 West 45th Street, NYC.  The Broadway revival posted the largest individual jump of the week at the bustling box office, climbing more than $85,000 (or 20%) to top $500,000.

The favorable reviews have attracted more theatergoers to attend the production and spurred the announcement by the producers that the critically-acclaimed play, which was originally set for a limited engagement for 17 weeks through January 5, 2014, has been extended through Sunday, February 23, 2014.

As soon as the curtain goes up, it’s plain to see what Director John Tiffany was working with – an enormously gifted cast including – multiple Tony and Emmy Award-winner Cherry Jones as Amanda Wingfield, stage and screen star Zachary Quinto as Tom, two-time Tony-nominee Celia Keenan-Bolger as Laura, and Brian J. Smith as Jim, the Gentleman Caller.

This classic revised masterpiece stars Amanda Wingfield (two-time Tony Award winner Cherry Jones) as a Southern belle past her prime, living with two grown children in a small apartment in St. Louis.  Amanda dreams of a better life for her shy and crippled daughter Laura (two-time Tony Award nominee Celia Keenan-Bolger), and so she pushes her son, Tom (Zachary Quinto), to find a “gentleman caller” for the girl.  However, the arrival of the gentleman caller (Brian J. Smith) sends shock waves through the family and causes cracks to form in the delicate fantasies that have kept them going.

The Glass Menagerie is a fine-tuned, plain-speaking new production of Tennessee Williams’ lyrical masterpiece containing dialogue that drips with the iconic playwright’s special brand of southern comfort.  Here, Tiffany’s delicate balancing direction delves into fanatical creative imagery that’s transmittable.

The Glass Menagerie has set and costumes by Bob Crowley, lighting by Natasha Katz, and sound by Clive Goodwin.  Original music is composed by Nico Muhly, and movement by longtime Tiffany collaborator Steven HoggettIrene Gandy and Alana Karpoff are press representatives.

The American Repertory Theater’s (A.R.T.) production of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie is presented on Broadway by Jeffrey Richards, John N. Hart Jr., Jerry Frankel, Lou Spisto / Lucky VIII, Infinity Stages, Scott M. Delman, Jam Theatricals, Mauro Taylor, Rebecca Gold, Michael Palitz, Charles E. Stone, Will Trice, and GFour Productions.

The producers are offering a student rush policy for the limited engagement — subject to availability — that can be purchased with a valid student ID at the box office of the Booth Theatre.  Student rush tickets are $35 each and limited to two (2) tickets per customer.

Opening night guests joined the producers and cast at a fabulous after-party at Redeye Grill that featured great food, premium libations succulent sushi and  a first-time ever Ice Cream Bar.  That’s how the rich role!  

New York based award-winning journalist Audrey J. Bernard covers entertainment, fashion & beauty, film, lifestyles and travel for the Electronic Urban Report and other outlets.  Contact her via: [email protected]