Tomorrow marks the first of three preview performances of Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (the Hood Opera), Melvin Van Peebles' (above) musical adaptation of his groundbreaking 1971 film of the same name.  The musical was originally scheduled for only two previews–on February 3rd and 4th–but due to overwhelming demand a third performance has been added for Friday, February 5.  All performances are at 8pm, but the first two are sold out.

This is a great opportunity to see this musical in advance of its world premiere at the Son D'Hiver Festival in Paris on February 19 and 20.  From the press release:

Sweet Sweetback at BRIC will give audiences a unique opportunity to experience the intimate process of artistic collaboration between BRIC Artists-In-Residence Van Peebles and music ensemble Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber, along with a large cast of actors and singers, as they bring to the stage one of the most influential films of the African-American cinema.
The work-in-progress previews will conclude with an audience dialogue with the artists, followed by a book-signing with Melvin Van Peebles.
Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at and at the door two hours ahead of showtime on the day of each performance at the BRIC Box Office.  BRIC Arts | Media | Bklyn is located at 647 Fulton Street, 2nd floor (entrance on Rockwell Pl.) in Downtown Brooklyn.  Telephone is 718-855-7882.
A fiercely independent artist whose work on Broadway has earned him eleven Tony nominations, Mr. Van Peebles financed, wrote, directed, scored, and starred in the original film version of Sweet Sweetback, paving the way for the success of future independent black films. An important work in the history of African-American cinema, it tells the story of a deprived African-American man on his flight from the white authority in satirical, realistic and often humorous detail. The original musical score was performed by Earth, Wind & Fire.
Burnt Sugar has been described as a “funk-rock-electronic-samba-soul-jazzfusion-whatever ensemble” and counts among its influences Bitches Brew-era Miles Davis, Funkadelic, Bad Brains, Band of Gypsys, Sun Ra and Herbie Hancock’s Mwandishi.  Bandleader Greg Tate “plays the band” using a technique called conduction, which gets its name from the field of physics, and was developed by jazz conductor Butch Morris. Employing a series of gestures, baton twirls, eye contact, and facial expressions that are used to communicate directions to the band, the bandleader can change the melodic and harmonic structure, creating a one-time composition that could not have been predicted nor repeated.

After the break, check out some pics I shot during a rehearsal last month.

Mr. Van Peebles directing the action onstage.

Greg Tate directing Burnt Sugar

Greg Tate and Laronda Davis, handler of B.I. (aka the business)

Burnt Sugar and a member of the cast

Mr. Van Peebles working with the actors

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