Phenomenal Woman: Maya Angelou is the inspiring story of how a little girl from the south born Marguerite Johnson, affected by childhood trauma and without formal education, transformed her pain into hope and became Maya Angelou, one of the most celebrated voices of the 20th and 21st centuries. This play with music is a combination of memory, song, poetry, dance, and wisdom that will bring Maya’s work into present relevance and inspire audiences to stand up to personal challenges and speak out in the face of social inequities. The play is a lyrical memory-play, combining Dr. Angelou’s poetry and autobiographical writings, previously unreleased anecdotes from those who knew her well, original material, and music, to explore fundamental yet timely questions about human nature, giving the gift of Dr. Angelou’s brilliance and inspiration to the next generation.
Corstoria, LLC. has secured the exclusive theatrical rights to Angelou’s life and works, and has partnered with Branded Pictures Entertainment to develop the show for the Broadway stage. Before his death in early 2022, Guy Johnson, Maya’s only child, signed on as Executive Producer and contributed invaluably to the show’s development, providing first-hand insight into the life and personality of the late author. We continue to work with the Angelou-Johnson family.
“My mother lived an extraordinary life,” Johnson said. “She brought a sense of passion to living and invested herself wholly in it. What she wanted most was justice for all human beings, and the freedom to experience joy and laughter. We hope to capture her joie de vivre. We’re going to include some private anecdotes that will be a revelation to audiences. I’m pleased to be working with this team in bringing her story to life and can’t wait for the public to experience it.”
Phenomenal Woman: Maya Angelou is written by playwright, screenwriter, and poet Angelica Cheri (Gun & Powder, Berta, Berta; "The Godfather of Harlem"). In 2018, Angelica and musical collaborator Ross Baum received the prestigious Richard Rodgers Award for their musical Gun & Powder, joining the legacy of such acclaimed musicals as Hadestown, Rent, and Natasha and Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812. Gun & Powder premiered at the Signature Theater in 2020, in a production directed by Robert O'Hara (Slave Play), and will be staged at the Paper Mill Playhouse in 2024 in a production directed by Stevie Walker-Webb (Tony-nominee, Ain't No Mo'). Angelica is one of six playwrights selected for the inaugural Writers' Room at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. She is a proud member of The Dramatists' Guild and the New Play Exchange. Angelica received her BA in Theatre from UCLA, MFA in Playwriting from Columbia University and MFA in Musical Theatre Writing from NYU.
Phenomenal Woman: Maya Angelou is the inaugural Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin Rolling World Premiere production and debuted in February 2023 at the North Carolina Black Repertory Company followed by The Ensemble Theatre (Houston) in July 2023, on the way to setting plans for a regional production and transfer to Broadway.
“Dr. Angelou was chairperson of the inaugural National Black Theatre Festival (NBTF) in 1989 and an international champion of Black Theatre,” says Jackie Alexander, Producing Artistic Director of the North Carolina Black Repertory Company and Executive Producer of the National Black Theatre Festival. “To have Black institutions, NC Black Rep, Hattiloo Theatre, and The Ensemble Theatre, be the birthplaces in developing a play inspired by her life for the Broadway stage, beautifully pays homage to her memory. It’s the reason the NBTF Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin Rolling World Premiere Award was created, and signals a much-needed return to Black Theatres having a voice in defining future classics of the genre.”