World Premiere of Dreaming Zenzile Opens June 1 at NYTW | Playbill

Off-Broadway News World Premiere of Dreaming Zenzile Opens June 1 at NYTW

2022 Tony nominee Lileana Blain-Cruz directs the NYTW and National Black Theatre's co-produced musical.

Lileana Blain-Cruz Marc J. Franklin

Grammy nominee Somi Kakoma's Dreaming Zenzile opens its Off-Broadway run at New York Theatre Workshop June 1. The co-production with National Black Theatre began previews May 17, and is scheduled through June 26.

Kakoma's work follows South African music artist and civil rights activist Miriam Makeba, delving into her work, the ways she connected with people in the moment, and the ancestors who called to her. Kakoma leads the cast as Makeba, with Aaron Marcellus, Naledi Masilo, and Phumzile Sojola as Sangoma Chorus. 2022 Tony nominee Lileana Blain-Cruz directs the production.

Also featured is the production's band starring Toru Dodo on piano, Pathé Jassi on bass, Hervé Samb on guitar, and Sheldon Thwaites on percussion. The musicians will play original music as well as interpretations of Makeba's catalog.

Blain-Cruz leads the creative team which includes fellow 2022 Tony-nominated lighting designer Yi Zhao, who also worked with Blain-Cruz on Broadway's The Skin of Our Teeth, and sound designer Justin Ellington. They are joined by scenic designer Riccardo Hernandez, costume designer Mimi Plange, projection designer Hannah Wasileski, choreographer Marjorie Forté-Saunders, dramaturg Talvin Wilks, and music director Hervé Samb. Abigail jean-baptiste is the associate director, and Egypt Dixon is the stage manager.

The production also has scheduled For the Culture affinity events to accompany select performances, including Black Theatre Night in partnership with Black Girls Do Theatre June 7, Apollo Night in partnership with the Apollo Theater June 16, and Open Street: Open Mic June 23 in partnership with Poetic Theatre Productions, FABnyc. Kakoma has also released a companion album to the show titled Zenzile: The Reimagination of Miriam Makeba.

The world premiere brings together seven producers: Octopus Theatricals, National Black Theatre, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, McCarter Theatre Center, Arts Emerson, Apollo Theater, and New York Theatre Workshop.

For tickets, visit


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