Who knew that stalking Sheryl Lee Ralph on social media would spawn two much-needed musicals: Mighty Real: A Fabulous Sylvester Musical and An Evening With Phyllis Hyman? The shows’ creators, Kendrell Bowman and Anthony Wayne, sure didn’t!
But when they thought of the concepts behind the stage shows, they knew they had something special, and they would do everything they could to make sure the life stories of these two musical geniuses were told. Not only were both shows going to be exhilarating and entertaining, but the creators would approach each artist’s life from the human side, exploring mental illness in Phyllis and the AIDS epidemic in Sylvester. Bowman and Wayne’s story is a living testament to not giving up.
Bowman and Wayne have both worked in the theater space—Bowman as a director and producer, and Wayne as a writer, producer and performer (The Color Purple, Fame). Wayne remembers talking to various producers after they decided that they wanted to share the music and stories of these two greats, in an attempt to drum up some type of support, but all he was met with were wide eyes and head nods.
Wayne and Bowman realized that they would have to take matters into their own hands and launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to produce the shows. Bowman would tweet celebrities every day in hopes that they’d respond, share or even donate. Ralph was one of those celebrities. It took several attempts, but she ultimately responded, and her support helped Wayne and Bowman get both shows off the ground.
The tour for the shows kicks off in New York City on May 20 and will make stops in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Philadelphia and, hopefully, a city near you. Check out the duo’s website for tickets!