The Great Comet of 1812 : Catch it if You Can!

D-Day Media : New Broadway Play, My Take!

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denee-comet-danceWe lucked out and received theater tickets last night — one of those unexpected perks we New Yorkers sometimes joyfully encounter when friends unexpectedly have to forego their evening plans. It’s now intermission at the Imperial Theater on Broadway in Manhattan. The play is Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, based upon a portion of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. The musical stars singer/actor Josh Groban as Pierre in mid-life existential crisis, paired with a lovely rising young African American co-star, Denee Benton, as Natasha, an alluring young love interest.

Now by intermission I can say that this is shaping up to be a great show with a fantastic musical score that combines elements combining a Russian Pop and Bolshoi Opera production blended with postmodern urbanity. There’s the “street” rhythmic energy of Hip Hop’s cultural panache,  captured with riveting precision and style similar to Lin Manuel Miranda’s block-buster Hamilton.

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The Great Comet of 1812 : Catch it if You Can!

denee-comet-danceWe lucked out and received theater tickets last night — one of those unexpected perks we New Yorkers sometimes joyfully encounter when friends unexpectedly have to forego their evening plans. It’s now intermission at the Imperial Theater on Broadway in Manhattan. The play is Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, based upon a portion of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. The musical stars singer/actor Josh Groban as Pierre in mid-life existential crisis, paired with a lovely rising young African American co-star, Denee Benton, as Natasha, an alluring young love interest.

Now by intermission I can say that this is shaping up to be a great show with a fantastic musical score that combines elements combining a Russian Pop and Bolshoi Opera production blended with postmodern urbanity. There’s the “street” rhythmic energy of Hip Hop’s cultural panache,  captured with riveting precision and style similar to Lin Manuel Miranda’s block-buster Hamilton.

The Great Comet’s clever staging sets the entire Imperial Theater’s ambience as a night life cabaret soiree in 19th century Moscow. Embellished in period costumes of pre-Soviet-era Russian bourgeoisie life, dancers and instrumentalists festively romp throughout the entire theater, surrounding the audience’s 1000 seats in a uniquely entertaining manner, capped by a marathon of Vodka toasts and Cossack dancing.

This production is loaded with unanticipated active engagement of full audience participation, but not in a gratuitous pandering manner. The high-energy bombardment of the audience’s sensory field helps bring alive a ebullient pre-Bolshevik spirit of 19th-century Moscow’s elite social class with a bristling verve that seems to nearly burst at the seams at times. The merriment belies the story’s original backdrop of Napoleon’s French Brigades impending invasion.

The musical is anchored by the rich mercurial baritone of co-star Josh Groban as Pierre, an heir to a wealthy Count’s estate, who struggles with his existential crisis, reflecting on life’s meaning with the aid of an ample stock of Russian vodka. The Great Comet of 1812 appears, and through his struggles to pursue a righteous, meaningful life, Pierre, having been protector, patriarch, and bedrock of his family, discovers his love for Natasha.

Lovely and vibrant Ms. Benton’s Natasha, a dainty girl scarcely past puberty who is poised, refined, and impressionable. Betrayal by her lover, the carouser Anatole, leaves her forlorn and she’s eventually rejected by her fiancée, Andre, who discovers their affair.

Denee Benton is indeed well suited for the demands of the complex role of Natasha. Given the current tensions between Russia and the U.S.A over allegations of Russian sanctioned cyber-hacking of the U.S. 2016 presidential campaign, it’s a breath of fresh air to see classical Russian literature come to life on the “Great White Way” with a beautiful and talented African American actress.

The songs performed by the cast are powerful – some whimsical and joyful, others haunting. The music and lyrics explore the reaches of the interior lives of Tolstoy’s nuanced characters; conflict, joy, disappointment, rage, and aspirations – all qualities theater goers are privileged to experience via the adaptation of the great Russian writer’s 19th-century characters to our 21st-century sensibilities.

Some observers in 1812 viewed t Comet as an apocalyptic event signaling the end of the world, while others saw it as a symbol hope. During this current transformational period in Russian-American relations let’s hope that our nation’s love of art and the cultural appreciation of heritage in literature and music we share in common will steady our course towards a continued peaceful co-existence.

Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 is a theatrical experience that I highly recommend. (D.Day Media 2016)

Ancient Egyptian Africans and EXODUS the Movie

With the 2015 holiday’s season’s movie Exodus anticipating great expectations at the box office during the last quarter and season,director Ridley Scott and producer Rupert Murdock Fox News media magnate’s epic film continues to generate controversy.
Anthony T. Browder who is the author of “Nile Valley Contributions To Civilization: Exploding The Myths” noted archeologist ,author and historian,
states: “Rupert Murdock a principal producer of the movie recently tweeted: “Since when are Egyptians not white? All I know are. They treated blacks as slaves.” Browder adds,Ridley Scott,renowned English director and producer said that “he didn’t hire any Black leads for the film because, “I (can’t) get it financed. So the question doesn’t even come up.”, referring to the question of racial representation and authenticity in casting the film’s principal characters.
 
A recent article in the Daily Monitor Ugandans’ largest newspaper writes : “Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs related to Ugandans DNA”,reporting in December 2012, DNA tests were conducted on the mummies of Pharaoh Rameses III and his son, which proved that they belonged to human Y chromosome group E1b1a. This is the Y chromosome group of Sub Saharan Africans who speak Niger–Congo languages.
The disclosed Y chromosome group of the Pharaoh, at the time of releasing the report, was considered as just one of the details to make the investigation scientifically solid with facts. But its revelation caused a stir equal to the purpose of the original forensic investigation.
Another group of mummies from the Amarna period of Egyptian pharaohs were tested by DNA Tribes, an American Company which specializes in conducting DNA tests, in 2013.
The conclusion of the tests were that the mummies autosomal profiles would be most frequent in the present day populations of the African Great Lakes region and Southern Africa. Subsequent analysis of the autosomal profile of the mummy of Pharaoh Rameses III also concluded that this matched the genetic profiles of the population of the Great Lakes region as well.
It was reported in the DNA Tribe’s digest of February 2013, that the DNA match results of the ancient Egyptian armana royal mummies with the present day world regions reflect the population changes in Africa after the time of Rameses III .
One issue which remains unresolved is that of language. The language of ancient Egypt is classified as belonging to the Afro-Asiatic family of languages, which are spoken by people like the Somali and Amhara of Ethiopia, while the genetic profiles of the mummies match those of Niger–Congo language speakers. The most likely explanation is that some of the Niger-Congo speaking people, who were carriers of human Y chromosome E1b1a, moved into ancient Egypt along the Nile from the Sahara region as the region dried up and fused with the Afro-Asiatic speaking people, giving rise to the unique language of ancient Egypt.
 
When billionaire Rupert Murdock is quoted as having made such an asinine statement that “all Egyptians are white” he has either been misquoted,is poorly educated ,uninformed or pandering to the Fox News conservative fan base and likely white movie goers he hopes will fork up $12-15 bucks for the feel good movie ticket this season.But at what price for expanding authenticity and historicity.
 
Recall last Christmas season 2013 and Fox News anchor Megan Kelly exclaimed in an archeologically baseless rant “Jesus was a white man, too. It’s like we have, he’s a historical figure that’s a verifiable fact, as is Santa, I just want kids to know that. How do you revise it in the middle of the legacy in the story and change Santa from white to black?” Well Mr. Scott, Murdock and Ms. Kelly it’s called science;enlightenment, truth seeking and removal of your historically biased blinders that stifle ones comprehension and acceptance that all human beings origins are in Africa. Egypt is part of the African Continent and at various epochs in time different dynasties ruled over Africa’s empires for centuries at a time. And based upon substantial archeological, forensic and DNA evidence, including drawings on cave walls, statues,pyramids, sphinxes and thousands of artifacts the African presence in Africa was ubiquitous. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure this one out,only an open non-threatened mind! D.Day 2014
 
Pictured: LUPITA NYONG’O (top left) IDRIS ALBA (top rght.)
 
SIGOURNEY WEAVER – TUYA(bottom right)
Tuya, not portrayed in Biblical accounts, is believed to have been the wife of Pharaoh Seti I and mother of Ramses II. She has been portrayed in movies as the Egyptian woman of royalty who pulled baby Moses from the Nile River, while the Bible presents the Hebrew deliverer’s foster mother as “the daughter of Pharaoh” who named him Moses (Exodus 10:1-10).
 
JOEL EDGERTON – PHARAOH RAMSES (bottom left)
While Ramses is not identified in the Bible as the pharaoh who Moses faced, extra-biblical accounts suggest that Ramses II ruled over Egypt during the 13th century BCE, the period suggested by some experts for when Moses might have lived. The Book of Exodus portrays the pharaoh as defiant to Moses’s claims that God required the enslaved Hebrews to leave Egypt. The Book of Exodus indicates the pharaoh pursued the Hebrews as they left Egypt. Moses and the pharaoh have been portrayed in popular movie accounts as sibling rivalries. 

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