North the Musical

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Chandler Center for the Arts has joined forces with three other cities to commission “North: the Musical”. The musical is conceived and composed by jazz vocalist, musician and composer Ashli St. Armant based on oral histories from her family as well as other slave histories from Louisiana.

The premiere was scheduled for October in Lawrence, Kansas, which has a rich history of several stops of the underground railroad. Next month, the show will arrive Chandler. It then moves on to Los Angeles and finally, Cleveland.

Directed by St. Armant with Creative Producer actor Isaiah Johnson, (Hamilton and The Color Purple on Broadway) North is an uplifting and powerful piece, with workshops and events through the fall, and public performances at Chandler Center for the Arts on November 4 and 5.

Michelle Mac Lennan, General Manager of Chandler Center for the Arts & Ashli St. Armant joined us to talk about the upcoming performances in November.

“This is the first time the Chandler Center for the Arts has commissioned a new work. We did it along with three other art centers across the country, so it was a work of four art centers coming together for this work we really believe in,” Mac Lennan said.

“I came up with this concept a few years ago, but it’s been a work in progress and a labor of love, as you could say. I poured my whole heart into this project,” Armant said.

How did this Idea Originate?

Armant has two sons and were talking with them about the Underground Railroad during Black History Month a few years ago. They did not know what it was.

“So I thought there’s an opportunity to really expand our understanding of not only things that happen in this time period but bring humanity to that experience. And I reflected on my own experience as a young Black person in America learning about Black history and my experience is very limited and one-sided. I thought about my own ancestors and wanted to tell their story in a way that felt whole and beautiful,” Armant said.

Michelle Mac Lennan, Ashli St. Armant

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