New Musical – JED
JED is a new family musical based upon the Coretta Scott King Award-winning book and Reading Rainbow favorite, “Uncle Jed’s Barbershop” (option secured), written by Margaree King Mitchell and illustrated by James Ransome.
Book by Cheryl Davis
Music and Lyrics by David Wohl
In 1962, forty-something Jean Carter leaves Detroit and her secure but dead-end job at a bank to return to her childhood home in Arkansas: Her beloved septuagenarian uncle Jed has fallen ill, and he stubbornly refuses to give up on his dream of building his own barbershop, even though it has been continually sidetracked for more than 30 years. Jed’s wife, Twyla, pleads with Jean to talk sense into her uncle, and to convince him to settle into his life and age. Jean’s parents agree with this plan, but are just as pleased to have their estranged daughter back home again, after many years away up North. Jed, wise to the family situation, convinces Jean to stay in Arkansas for longer than she originally intended, so that she can judge for herself if he is too old to work towards his shop. Jed’s ultimate intention, however, is for Jean to help him open the shop, and to keep the promise they made to one another long ago to do so.
We return to Holly Grove, Arkansas, 1928, where Jed, in his 40s, is the only Black barber in the entire county. Jed takes his young niece and “business partner” (called “Sarah Jean,” then) along with him as he travels to customers’ porches, living rooms, shops, and sharecropped fields. Sarah Jean is swept up in Jed’s plans to build his own barbershop, and looks forward to the day that “they” will have a true place of business. Jed’s ambition and efforts are tireless, and he continues to save more and more. Obstacles, however, set him back, including his paying for Sarah Jean’s life-saving surgery at the segregated (“White”) hospital, losing his savings again during the Great Depression, the challenge of being a Black man in the South trying to save money and set up a business, and the universal toll of growing older. In spite of everything, Jed never gives up, and young Sarah Jean loves and admires him for it.
By 1962, Jed and Jean have pushed each other and their relationship to the breaking point, as each one stubbornly insists they know what is best for the other. Just as Jean decides to return to Detroit for good, they discover a new and unexpected path forward, and a way to work together towards opening the barbershop. In building new possibilities for themselves, and consequently for others in their community, they bring new life to their old dreams. At show’s end, evening has fallen, and Jed returns home for dinner with Twyla, while Jean— content to be called Sarah Jean, once again– prepares the shop for the first day of business, tomorrow.
Set to a soaring and dramatic score, JED is a celebration of family, community, love, work, faith, and the power of dreams that never grow old.
2020 Reading, New York, sponsored by The Farm
2019 Ragdale Writers Retreat, Finalist
2019 Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, Finalist
2018 Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Writing Fellowship
Cheryl is featured on Onstage/Offstage in Episode 139: Women of The Honor Roll with Yvette Heyliger and Lucy Wang (released 02 March 2021).
Don’t Stay Safe
Premiered December 30, 2020 as part of Prospect Theater Company’s VISION Series.
This companion piece to the full-length musical Bridges engages with the ongoing struggle for racial equality and civil rights, examining the risks of protest… and the risks of staying safe.
Book and lyrics by Cheryl L. Davis
Music by Douglas J. Cohen
Directed by Christina Franklin
Cinematography by Lesley Steele
Nominee, Outstanding Digital Theater, Individual Production Drama League Awards 2021
Official Selection, NYC Indie Theatre Film Festival 2021
Winner, Best Musical/Dance Film, Los Angeles Film Awards 2021
Honorable Mention, Paris Film Festival
Official Selection, Prison City Film Festival 2021
Official Selection, Toronto Film Channel
Best LGBTQ Short, Indie Short Fest
Don’t Stay Safe! (A Stirring Musical Theater Piece) by Alix Cohen, Woman Around Town, January 6, 2021
Senator Slapstuck: From Zero to Slappy!
This new work was announced as a Semifinalist in the Stage 32 1st Annual New Voices in Animation Screenwriting contest on January 8, 2021.
#WhileWeBreathe: A Night of Creative Protest
Top Broadway talent join forces to create new works that will be featured in a one-night only event to benefit civil rights organizations.
#WhileWeBreathe will premiere on July 29 at 6 p.m. PT/9 p.m. ET on WhileWeBreathe.com, as well as YouTube Live and Facebook Live. Following the premiere, all of the works will be available for viewing.
The event will raise money for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., The Bail Project, Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity (BOLD), BYP100 Education Fund, Forced Trajectory Project (FTP), The Justice Committee and SONG.
- Appointment Theater, Coming to a Screen Near You
By Elisabeth Vincentelli, New York Times, July 30, 2020
“Voices be heard The ambitious “#WhileWeBreathe: A Night of Creative Protest” is made up of 11 new works by and starring an exciting group of writers, directors and actors. The project, which can be watched on YouTube, benefits the N.A.A.C.P. Legal Defense and Educational Fund and other like-minded organizations. While the pieces are short (the whole program runs just over an hour), most are very effective. A perfect example is Cheryl L. Davis’s “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep,” starring Patina Miller and Hailey Stone under Tamara Tunie’s direction — the minimalist staging only makes it more quietly distressing.”
- What’s Streaming? Broadway Bares, Andrew Scott in Three Kings, #WhileWeBreathe by David Gordon, theatermania, July 30, 2020
Law & Order: SVU
Cheryl is proud to be part of Law & Order: SVU’s writing team for its history-making 21st season!
10pm – Thursday, September 26 the record breaking 21st Season of SVU premiers.
“Garland’s Baptism by Fire”, Cheryl’s primetime premiere, aired on April 2, 2020 on NBC at 10pm ET.
Hear Cheryl and Micharne Cloughley discuss how they crafted Garland’s inner world for the episode – “Garland’s Baptism by Fire” in Squadroom: Demore Barnes on Garland’s Worlds Colliding (S21E18) at The Law & Order: SVU Podcast
A Volcano Theatre Production in association with Moveable Beast
Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha – News and Online Articles at volcano.ca
Fellow in Residence at VCAA
In 1965, a young woman boldly joins a march to fight for her civil rights. Decades later, another young woman faces her own battle for equality. As their stories collide across time and distance, each must come to terms with who she is in the context of a changing and complicated world. Full of soulful melodies, Bridges is an empowering story that explores our country’s past and present – how far we’ve come, how far we have to go, and the bridges we must cross to get there.
World Premiere, Berkeley Playhouse, February 11 – March 6, 2016
- Mark Rosewater on Magic & Bridges (June 19, 2017)
- New Musical Bridges, About the Multi-Generational Fight for Equality, Receives One-Night-Only Concert By Ryan McPhee (Jun 02, 2017)
- BRIDGES: A NEW MUSICAL Gets Off-Broadway Concert This June (May 18, 2017)
- Nominated for Original Score, Best Production in the East Bay, and Best Production in the Bay Area by The San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics for their 41st Annual Excellence in Theatre Awards for 2016!
- Arts in Color TALKS: Cheryl L. Davis by Selena Burns, March 5, 2016
- Arts in Color THOUGHTS: Bridges at the Berkeley Playhouse by Selena Burns, February 25, 2016
- ‘Bridges’ tunefully spans decades with civil rights tales, by Leslie Katz, The San Francisco Examiner, February 24, 2016
- Berkeley Playhouse’s ‘Bridges: A New Musical’ is a winner, by Ross Stapleton-Gray, Berkeleyside, February 24, 2016
- Theatre Eddys: “Bridges”, Tuesday, February 23, 2016
- Musical Builds Bridges Between Civil Rights Era and 2008 by Lou Fancher, San Francisco Classical Voice, February 16, 2016
- ‘Bridges’ spans civil rights struggles across the years By Robert Hurwitt, SF Gate, Tuesday, February 9, 2016
- American Theatre: Berkeley Playhouse Announces 2015–16 Season
- Village Theatre Sets Lineup for 2015 Festival of New Musicals
- Playbill.com: New Musical Bridges Will Make World Premiere at Berkeley Playhouse; Season Announced
- Playbill.com: Village Theatre Fest Line-Up Announced
- Cheryl was interviewed in the NAMT New Works News – October 2015
The pilot is based upon the stage play Swimming Uptown, which received a staged reading on April 7, 2017 in New York, and which will receive its world premiere next year at North Carolina Black Repertory Company.
Awards & Press:
New York TV Festival Lists Picks For Its Script Competition – The New York Television Festival is out with its list of 20 comedy and drama scripts that will vie in its second annual NYTVF Scripts Competition, which expanded this year to include drama pilot scripts from writers worldwide. The 13th annual NYTVF runs October 23-28 in Manhattan.
AAFLTV Pilot on Gender Bias
Screenplay Reading & Workshop held Friday August 25, 2017 at AAARI-CUNY, 25 W. 43 Street, NYC
August 6-8 2015 at Lorna Hopkins Theatre for the 2015 National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, NC.
2014 AUDELCO Award Winner for Best Set Design (Patrice Andrew Davidson), Director (Jackie Alexander), Playwright (Cheryl L. Davis), Supporting Actor (Nate James (aka Nathan James)), Supporting Actress (Melissa Joyner), Lead Actress (Scottie Mills (aka Sandra Mills Scott)), and Dramatic Production (The Billie Holiday Theatre)!
WORLD PREMIERE – The Billie Holiday Theatre
February 21 – March 30, 2014
Directed by Jackie Alexander
A family is pushed to the breaking point as they struggle to save their beloved matriarch from being robbed of a glorious present by ghosts from her past.
Reviews & Press
“Maid’s Door” tackles a heavy issue with strong performances (May 18, 2017)
Cheryl named one of seven finalists for the 2016 Francesca Primus Prize (January 23, 2017)
The North Carolina Black Repertory Company Announces 2016-2017 Season (July 14, 2016)
‘Maid’s Door’ is poignant without being manipulative by Susan Gilmor, Winston-Salem Journal (August 7, 2015)
Cheryl L. Davis’ Maid’s Door Sweeps AUDELCOs with 7 Wins; Complete List of 2014 AUDELCO Recipients by Lia Chang (November 19, 2014)
Maid’s Door: Picking up the Pieces When the Most Important Thing in Your Life Shatters The Brooklyn Reader (March 23, 2014)
Billie Holiday Theatre’s “Maids Door” by Bernice Elizabeth Green, Our Time Press (March 29, 2014)
An evening of original short works generated in Prospect’s 10th Annual Musical Theater Writers’ Lab, inspired by the twelve Jungian archetypal characters.
Cheryl Davis & Jonathan Portera; Mindi Dickstein & Barbara Anselmi; Nichole Jackson, Liana Stillman, & Yoonmi Lee; Sukari Jones & Troy Anthony; Sarah Mucek & Karl Hinze; Chris Staskel & Nikko Benson
Performances July 27 – 31: Wed. & Thurs. 7:30PM, Fri. 8:00PM, Sat. 3:00PM & 8:00PM, Sun. 2:00PM at the 14th Street Y Theatre (344 East 14th St. @ 1st Ave.) Tickets are available online at www.ProspectTheater.org or 212-352-3101.
curated and directed by Dev Bondarin
music directed by Daniel Sefik
stage managed by Sophie Frankle
Reviews & Press:
Prospect Theatre Company to Premiere ARCHETYPE: July 27-31 (July 21, 2016)
World Premiere, Astoria Performing Arts Center
November 5-21, 2015
A modern-day drama that centers on the friendship of two schoolteachers–one black and one white. Their bond is shaken when one loses her job, and questions of loyalty and unspoken prejudice rise to the surface. This provocative tale challenges us to examine our perceptions of race in contemporary culture.
Reviews & Press:
Two outstanding plays tackle race By Marty Rosen, LEO Weekly, November 1, 2017
Looking for Lilith learns to look inward, with help from a grant and ‘Carefully Taught’ By Eli Keel, Insider Louisville, October 24, 2017
APAC Presents “Carefully Taught” Through November 21st
“Carefully Taught” is Meticulously Executed: Theater Review By Jody Williams, Contributing Writer for ZEALnyc, Theater News & Reviews, November 7, 2015
Astoria Performing Arts Center to Present World Premiere of CAREFULLY TAUGHT
Red Mountain Theatre Company, February 5-8, 2015
in collaboration with poet Sharrif Simmons
Reviews & Press:
Show Review: “Mandela” More Than A Name In History by Mandy Shunnarah (February 5, 2015)
April 11-14, 2013
Original concept by Keith Cromwell
First act adaptation by Priscilla Hancock Cooper based on
“Letter from Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Second act written by Cheryl L. Davis
Produced in collaboration with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.