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A.R.T. melds gospel, RandB, Shakespeare

Banner Staff | 11/25/2009, 6:16 a.m.

“Best of Both Worlds” is a new family musical that features the sounds of both RandB and gospel in a holiday special designed to revisit Shakespearean characters and universal themes of love and jealousy, faith and forgiveness.

The show, presented by the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.), features lyrics by Randy Weiner, music by multiple Obie-winner Diedre Murray, and is directed by Tony-nominated Diane Paulus (Director of “Hair” — Tony Winner: Best Musical Revival 2009).

The story line is a soulful version of “The Winter’s Tale,” Shakespeare’s timeless story of heartbreak and redemption. The show runs from Nov. 21 to Jan. 3, 2010 at the Loeb Drama Center in Cambridge.

The star-studded company includes Gregg Baker (Lawrence Olivier Award and Grammy nominee), Jeannette Bayardelle (NAACP Theater Award Winner, Best Lead Actress in a Musical for the Role of Celie in “The Color Purple”), Mary Bond Davis (original Motormouth Maybelle in “Hairspray” on Broadway), Darius de Haas (Obie Winner, “Running Man”), Nikkieli DeMone (Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for his portrayals of Jake in “Sideshow” and John in “Miss Saigon”), Cleavant Derricks (Tony, Drama Desk and LA Drama Circle Award winner for “Dreamgirls” and Tony nominee for “Brooklyn the Musical”), Brianna Horne (Winner of CBS Early Show Contest “My Broadway Debut”), Lawrence Stallings (“Passing Strange” On- and Off-Broadway), and the 8-year-old Sebastien Lucien of Hingham as Mamillius.

“Best of Both Worlds” also features a rotating roster of Greater Boston’s most celebrated gospel choirs.

The creative team includes set designer and longtime A.R.T. collaborator Riccardo Hernandez, costume designer Emilio Sosa, lighting designer Aaron Black and sound designer Brett Jarvis. Movement is by Tracy Jack. Music Director is Michael Mitchell, and the Associate Music Director and Choir Coordinator is David Freeman Coleman.

TICKETS: $25 - $75. Student rush $20. Seniors $10 off ticket price. Group Rates available. Can be purchased online at www.AmericanRepertoryTheater.org, by phone at 617-547-8300 or in person at the A.R.T. box office.