Mama, I Want to Sing: The Groundbreaking Black Musical
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Alexander Plummer as Reverend Winter

Alexander Plummer in the role of Reverend Winter, the Pastor of Mount Calvary, circa 1985.

Mama I Want to Sing
Desiree Coleman, Doris Troy, Steven Williams and The Reach Ensemble
Tisha Campbell

Tisha Campbell debuted in the role of Doris Winter at Mama's first full production at Fordham University in the Bronx in fall 1982.

Pieces of History

Mama I Want to Sing Timeline

January 1979

Mama, I Want to Sing is conceived by Vy Higginsen and Ken Wydro.

Winter 1980

A showcase production is held at the AMAS Repertory Theatre.

(L-R) Desiree Coleman, Doris Troy, Steven Williams and The Reach Ensemble perform in the closing number beneath the neon sign that was central to the sparse set at the Heckscher Theatre circa 1983.

Mama Program

Program given out at the 1000th performance of Mama, I Want to Sing at the Heckscher Theatre.

Vy Higginsen as the Narrator

Vy Higginsen in the role of the Narrator, at Heckscher Theatre, circa 1985.

Theresa Morris, Wardrobe Mistress

Theresa Morris brought considerable expertise and resource to her job as Mama wardrobe mistress from 1984 to 2003.

1980–1982

The show is rewritten as A Story in Concert.

Fall 1982

Five performances are presented as a fundraiser for Fordham University, Bronx, NY.

March 25, 1983

Mama, I Want to Sing opens at the Heckscher Theatre at Fifth Avenue and 104th Street in New York City, the former home of the New York Shakespeare Festival.

January 7, 1985

Time magazine names Mama, I Want to Sing one of the ten "Best of '84” theater performances.

January 20, 1986

The show hits its 1,000th performance milestone

March 25, 1986

First national tour begins

February 26, 1987

First European tour begins.

August 7, 1987

1,500th performance at the Heckscher Theatre in New York City.

June 4, 1988

First Japanese tour takes place in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoaka, and Sapporo.

Spring 1990

Mama, I Want to Sing, Part II opens at the Heckscher Theatre playing in repertory with the original play.

October 27, 1991

Mama, I Want to Sing, Part II tours in Japan.

Fall 1992

Mama, I Want to Sing, The Whole Story, a combination show featuring the storylines and music from both the shows premieres in a 10-week tour in Japan.

February 1–6, 1994

Mama, I Want to Sing plays to 40,000 at the Paramount Theater at Madison Square Garden.

June 13, 1994

Mama, I Want to Sing returns to perform in Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya in Japan.

January 27, 1995

Mama, I Want to Sing plays its first preview at the Cambridge Theatre in London’s West End.

February 1, 1995

Mama, I Want to Sing opens officially at the Cambridge Theatre.

June 14, 1995

Mama, I Want to Sing transfers to the Gielgud Theatre in London.

June 1–3, 2002

Mama, I Want to Sing performs in Bermuda, West Indies.

2003–2004

Mama, I Want to Sing celebrates its 20th Anniversary at the Williams Institute C.M.E. Baptist Church in Harlem, formerly the famous Lafayette Theater.

Spring 2009

The premiere of the movie version of Mama, I Want to Sing! (20th Century Fox).

Spring 2011

Mama, I Want to Sing opens at the Dempsey Theater in Harlem featuring Gospel for Teens members in the choir and in principle roles.

Spring 2013

The 30th Anniversary Season opens with a Gala at the Dempsey Theater.

Spring 2013

Mama, I Want to Sing tours Japan. The cast includes Gospel for Teens choir members.