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Meet the Artists



Richarda Abrams* (Playwright, Co-producer, Actor) is a 4-time AUDELCO award-winning actress/ singer/playwright/producer of First By Faith: The Life of Mary McLeod Bethune. The solo show won a 2019 AUDELCO VIV Award for Solo Performance of the Year and was named the Best of Solo Theatre in the Last 10 Years United Solo Theatre Festival (USTF). Other awards include USTF 2018 Best Educational Show Award and a sold-out the National Black Theatre Festival. Memberships: AEA, SAG- AFTRA, AACM, Actors Studio, Dramatists Guild, Episcopal Actors Guild, A.R.T./New York, New York Women in Film & Television, and League of Professional Theatre Women. Richarda is fiscally sponsored by NYFA, received a NYSCA Theater Commission and LMCC grants. She has performed all over the world and recorded Song for All (Black Saint Records) with her father Muhal Richard Abrams. Member of Amina Claudine Myers’ Generation IV and Voice Choir. NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts’ BFA in Acting, and MA in Educational Theatre, NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education, drama/theatre in education at University of Leeds, England.


Stephanie Anuwe (actor) is a Nigerian American actor and voiceover artist. Stephanie appeared in the debut of Goldie Patrick’s “The Surrender” and more recently Paris Crayton’s “In the Middle of the Mess”. You can hear her voice in the Amazon Prime animated short “Between the Pages”. She is excited to be joining the cast of Bethune and grateful to her friends and family for their love and support. MFA: ASDS @Pace.


Charles Black* (actor) is very happy to be a part of this wonderful cast. He studied with Anne Jackson, Earle Hyman, and Austin Pendleton among others. Favorite roles include The Writer in Tennessee Williams’ VIEUX CARRE, Medvendenko in Seagull ’69 based on Chekhov’s THE SEAGULL”, both directed by Austin Pendleton, Scar Tissue in Jose Rivera’s MARISOL directed by Paul Mancini. Film and television appearances include various NY Soaps, several Law & Orders, THE DEPARTED, BOARDWALK EMPIRE. Proud member of SAGAFTRA & AEA.


Bryan Hickey* (actor) began at Chicago’s Second City. Then played title role in the Organic Theater’s, Candide, at Public Theater. Two Joseph Jefferson nom. – Best Actor. Title and lead roles in Chicago, NY, L.A., London, Amsterdam. Member Actors Studio. Television appearances in

Chicago and New York and several independent films. Directed and co-produced numerous plays in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, including long running Jeff Award winning, All I Want.


Judy Jerome* (actor) is a lifetime member of The Actors Studio. Favorite roles include Flora in 27 Wagons Full of Cotton and Myrtle in Kingdom of Earth (St. Luke’s Theatre) and Sara Whitmore in Church and State (Berkshire Theatre Group). She just wrapped the indie film Four Seasons. Her film Cost Of A Soul can be viewed on Grio. Proud member of SAG/AFTRA and Actor’s Equity.


Samuel James Pygatt (actor) As a recent graduate from the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University, Samuel first appeared at 3LD media and theater group playing the role of Zane in original play North Carolina, and Roger in Roger and Vanessa. Ecstatic to be back on stage performing BETHUNE: Our Black Velvet Rose, Samuel dedicates his current and future success to his mother, mentor and family located in the city of Philadelphia. Peace, love and kindness.

Creative Team:


Playwright: Richarda Abrams*


Director: Kathleen Brant** NYC directing credits include Parish Dunkeld (WorkShop Theater Co.), Requiem for Sherlock Holmes (WorkShop Theater Co.), The World of Expression Awards (Danny Kaye Playhouse), Miss Lulu Bett (WorkShop Theater Co.), The Madwoman of Chaillot (West End Theatre), The Sixth Commandment (NYFringe “BEST of FEST”), King John (Judith Shakespeare), Don Juan at the Stake (Nat Horne Theatre). Regional credits include Henry V (SW Shakespeare), Son of Drakula w/David Drake (Croatia, Alaska & San Francisco), Poe, Spirits of the Dead (Orlando Shakespeare), Merry Wives of Windsor (Academy Rep.), ART and Last Night of Ballyhoo (The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina).

Kathleen is the founding director of JB Theatrical, a member of the Playwright/Directors Workshop at Actors Studio, and a proud member of the SDC.


Music Director: Amina Claudine Myers has a B.A. Degree in music education, Philander Smith College. She moved to Chicago, Illinois where she taught music in the public school system for six years. Myers began playing jazz in and around Chicago and was brought into the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. There she began composing for large and small ensembles, instrumental and choral music. Myers moved to New York in 1976. She was the Assistant Musical Director for the Off-Broadway production of Ain’t Misbehavin. She taught choral music at Sony Westbury. Amina continues to perform in Europe and all over the world with her Trio, Voice Choir, Generation IV, and solo performances. Her composing and music directing in theater includes Off-Broadway The Ladder, Occasional Grace, and Myers I Dream. Myers co-starred with Joseph Jarman in Muhal Richard Abrams theater work The Dream and she co-starred with David Murray in Primitive World by Amiri Baraka. She continues to tour on piano, voice, organ, and pipe organ while teaching privately in NYC.

(**Member of SDC)


Production team: 


Production Assistant: Chamallie Singh

Set and Props Designer: Harlan Penn

Costume Designer: Sally Lesser

Lighting Designer: Duncan Davies

Sound Designer: Jeanne Travis

Projection Designer: Anna Kiraly

Graphic Designer: M. Drue Williams

Stage Combat Coordinator: Dan Renkin

Press Representative: Andrea Alton of Alton PR

Co-Producers: Peggy Abrams and Richarda Abrams*

BETHUNE: Our Black Velvet Rose was made possible in part with public funds from Creative Engagement, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and administered by LMCC. BETHUNE: Our Black Velvet Rose received a New York State Council on the Arts, Theatre Artist Commission and is a fiscally sponsored project of New York Foundation for the Arts. 

Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune

Mary Jane McLeod

 Mary Jane McLeod

Mary McLeod

Mary McLeod

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