Partners and collaborators Kendrell Bowman & Anthony Wayne are going to rule NYC on May 20 weekend as the dynamic duo's pair of bio-musicals, Mighty Real: A Fabulous Sylvester Musical and An Evening with Phyllis Hyman, play The Gramercy Theater. Anthony Wayne wrote and stars as the disco icon Sylvester in Mighty Real with Kendrell serving as director and costume designer, and together they wrote Phyllis Hyman, starring Jacqueline B. Arnold as the title character. Tony nominee and current Wicked star Sheryl Lee Ralph produces.
Below, BroadwayBox hears from the co-creators about making these new musicals, moving Mighty Real to Broadway, and how they balance their personal and professional relationship.
My first impression of him:
My first impression of Anthony Wayne was WOW!! This guy can sing and he’s a star. I had to look at the other people sitting beside me in the audience to see if they were blown away like I was.
When I first met Kendrell, I realized that he had a drive as a vision that was unmatched by anyone I had ever met before. He's truly the kind of person and visionary who puts his mind to something and makes it happen. It's quite admirable.
As a collaborator, I’m inspired by his:
I’m inspired by his talents on stage and off stage. It’s not an easy task to go perform as the star of the show and be capable of doing the business side of it all. He’s learned how to balance the two and do it well. Most actors wouldn’t know all of the logistics it takes to put a show together.
I am inspired by Kendrell's consistent high standard for excellence. When we speak and work together, he pushes me to be as great as I can be while reaching for the best himself. As we work together, we back each other up with support and that's what keeps us reach for greatness. He reminds me that here's always room to be better and we continually look for that space.
The biggest challenge in creating Mighty Real:
was to convince people that the cast wasn’t lip singing! The phenomenal cast vocals are so outstanding if you close your eyes you would think that you’re listening to the original Sylvester and The Weather Girls live on stage.
For me, one of the biggest challenges creating Mighty Real is to step out of Producer/Writer mode and fully immerse myself into just Actor mode. When you become so used to doing so much, you have to step back and allow your team to take the reins when you have a responsibility to lead the show. It's been quite a journey for me, but I'm truly grateful for all we've learned and accomplished as a team. Now, as we prepare for BROADWAY, the cast, band and creative team are even more ready to take on anything because we know what to expect and how to handle the responsibility on all sides.
I wanted to tell Phyllis Hyman’s story because:
I felt that her story is a universal story that we all face every day. We all are looking for love and to be accepted. On the journey to find these things we sometimes may get off track with distractions of the world. An Evening With Phyllis Hyman teaches the importance of self-love and brings awareness that depression and mental health is “Mighty Real” in our community.
Phyllis Hyman is such an inspiration to me and many others. Not just because of her incredible vocals and stage presence, but for her consistent passion to not allow others to change her or her perspective. I wanted to tell Phyllis' story because I truly believe that many would feel the connection with this drive of hers since we all live our lives every day yearning to find our best selves. Seeing this show, people will know that you are not alone in dealing with life even though people don't talk about it. Even someone so strong and statuesque may seem to have it all, but are dealing with deeper demons than you could ever imagine. People need to know that you have the time and the chance now to stand tall through the adversity and live your life to the fullest now while you have the time. That's what this show brings and I'm grateful Kendrell and I can bring that essence to people through An Evening with Phyllis Hyman.
The key to balancing the romantic relationship with our artist one:
The key to balancing it all is to stay focused on why we started creating these shows. It’s the love, passion and talent that we see in each other. Even though it’s a business but we must be able to communicate and be the best teammate for each other at all times.
The key is the bases of respect and friendship that has allowed us to stay creative and productive throughout the years. We consistently continue to communicate on a personal and professional level to understand all perspectives of each other. That's what makes this journey worthwhile and keeps it fruitful across the board.