A flood at Philadelphia’s venerable New Freedom Theatre in North Philadelphia is causing a change of venue and schedule for Henry “Box” Brown: A Hip Hop Musical, the original show developed by The Roots’ collaborator Karl “Dice Raw” Jenkins.
The show will open as scheduled on February 1, the first evening of Black History Month, in the theatre in Community College of Philadelphia’s Bonnell Building, 556 N. 17th Street. Sunday evening shows have been replaced by 3 p.m. Saturday matinees.
Jenkins is donating a percentage of all ticket proceeds to support New Freedom Theatre’s clean up and reopening.
“I’m deeply saddened by having to move the venue for our Black History Month presentation of Box,” said Jenkins. “For obvious historical reasons, New Freedom Theater was the perfect place to mount this musical. New Freedom Theater has my full support while they are in transition, and I hope they have yours–if not the bricks and mortar effort, then for the spirit of what New Freedom Theater represents.”
Henry Box Brown: A Hip Hop Musical tells the story of the Virginia slave who mailed himself in a 3’ x 2’8” x 2’ wooden box to freedom in Philadelphia. This journey earned him the nickname “Box.” This show introduces Brown as not just a slave fighting for his freedom, but a multi-talented man who read and wrote poetry, practiced magic and hypnotism, and sang in a church choir. The man we meet traveled the world, took a stand against slavery, and spoke out politically.
A burst pipe on January 9 flooded New Freedom Theatre’s lobby and Black Box Theatre. The theatre is initiating a GoFundMe campaign to cover the needed repairs and support new programming. The goal is to reopen in March.
Rooted in the African-American tradition, the venerable, 51-year-old, 299-seat New Freedom Theatre is dedicated to achieving artistic excellence in professional theatre and performance arts training for the enrichment of the community. 1356 N. Broad Street.
Henry Box Brown: A Hip Hop Musical runs each Thursday through Saturday, February 1-17 at 7 p.m. Matinees are 11 a.m. each Friday and 3 p.m. each Saturday. Tickets range from $30 to $50; student tickets are available for $10. Community organizations may request a block of free tickets for children.