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Arts Club Theatre Company announces cast for Omari Newton–directed Red Velvet

Red Velvet
Veteran theatre artist Quincy Armorer will play a pioneering Black actor in Red Velvet.

The former artistic director of the Montreal-based Black Theatre Workshop will take on a major role in an upcoming show in Vancouver. Today (March 4), the Arts Club Theatre Company announced that Quincy Armorer has been cast as Ira Aldridge in Red Velvet. Vancouver theatre artist Omari Newton will direct the play, which focuses on the first Black actor to perform Shakespeare’s Othello.

In 1833, Aldridge played Othello at Theatre Royal in Covent Garden in London. He took over the role from Edmund Kean a year before the British Parliament passed the Slavery Abolition Act.

“The story of Ira Aldridge in Red Velvet is one filled with inspiration for his work as a trailblazer who set the standard for Black actors,” Newton said in an Arts Club Theatre news release. “Through our telling of the story of Ira, we are aiming to present an original interpretation that is driven by taking risks, much like Ira did when he first stepped into the role of Othello.

“Aldridge’s portrayal of Othello was a revelation, a testament to his artistic prowess and a bold challenge to the prevailing racial prejudices of the time,” the director continued. “His work wasn’t just as an exceptional actor, he was a catalyst for change, and I am eager to share his journey with audiences in this captivating and passionate production.”

Armorer previously performed the role of Othello in what one critic described as a mesmerizing performance. Over his theatrical career, Armorer has worked at the Stratford Festival, National Arts Centre, Centaur Theatre, and other companies.

Red Velvet director Omari Newton
Omari Newton is directing Red Velvet.

Red Velvet at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage

The cast also includes Lindsey Angell, Sebastien Archibald, Tess Degenstein, Anthony F. Ingram, Nathan Kay, John Emmet Tracy, and Kyla Ward.

Meanwhile, Amir Ofek is the set designer, with CS Fergusson-Vaux doing costume design. Jonathan Kim is the lighting designer. And Owen Belton oversees sound design.

British actor and playwright Lolita Chakrabarti wrote Red Velvet. It premiered at Tricycle Theatre in London in 2012. The Newton-directed Red Velvet will be at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage from March 21 to April 21.

The Arts Club Theatre Company is presenting the play in arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Samuel French, Inc.

For more tickets and more information about Red Velvet, visit the Arts Club Theatre Company website. Follow Pancouver on Twitter @PancouverMedia and on Instagram @PancouverMedia.

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Charlie Smith

Pancouver editor Charlie Smith has worked as a Vancouver journalist in print, radio, and television for more than three decades.

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We would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. With this acknowledgement, we thank the Indigenous peoples who still live on and care for this land.