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  • Crow's Theatre
  • Lolita Chakrabarti
  • Cherissa Richards
  • Nov 22 - Dec 18, 2022
  • $45-$65
  • two hours and twenty minutes, including intermission
  • Guloien Theatre
  • Details

    “... frankly, thrilling. ... they burn the place down.” 

    Time Out New York


    London, 1833. A Black man has never starred on a major London stage—not even as Othello—until tonight.

     An imagined version of true events, RED VELVET transports audiences to the turbulent backstage world of London’s Theatre Royal in Covent Garden to tell the little-known story of Ira Aldridge, an African-American stage actor. As British Parliament debates the abolition of slavery, Aldridge prepares to make his entrance as Othello. His groundbreaking performance upends centuries of British stage tradition and changes the lives of everyone involved.

    The audience is enamoured but the critics are not amused and the Theatre Royal is temporarily shut down. Despite this, Aldridge went on to build a stellar career with an impeccable reputation throughout Europe, but he never returned to a London stage again.

     The star-studded cast includes Allan Louis (The Doctor’s Dilemma, Gem of the Ocean, Shaw Festival) as Ira Aldridge (full bio below); Kyle Blair (Cyrano De Bergerac, Holiday Inn, Shaw Festival) as theatre manager Pierre Laporte; Ellen Denny (Life After, for which she received a Dora nomination for Outstanding Performance, Canadian Stage) as lead actress Ellen Tree; Starr Domingue (Dixon Road, The Musical Stage Company / Obsidian Theatre Company / Canadian Stage, Room, Mirvish Productions / Covent Garden Productions / Grand Theatre) as Connie a domestic attendant; Nathan Howe (In The Wake of Wettlaufer,  Cakewalk, Blyth Festival) as Casimir a stage hand and Henry Forrester an actor; Patrick McManus (Orphans for the Czar, Crow’s Theatre, An Octoroon, Shaw Festival) as Aldridge’s valet Terence, and as actor Bernarde Warde; Jeff Lillico (Sweeney Todd, Talk is Free Theatre, Fairview, Canadian Stage) as Charles Kean, the son of theatre star Edmund Kean; and Amelia Sargisson (Hamlet-911, Stratford Festival, Bad Jews, Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company) as the bright and ambitious Polish journalist Halina Wozniak, also as actress Betty Lovell, and wife of Ira Aldridge, Margaret Aldridge.

     The award-winning creative team includes director Cherissa Richards (Assistant Director MixTape, Crow’s Theatre, Harlem Duet, Bard on the Beach, full bio below); set and props designer Julie Fox (Uncle Vanya, MixTape, Crow’s Theatre); costume designer Ming Wong (Uncle Vanya, Orphans for the Czar, Crow’s Theatre); lighting designer Arun Srinivasan (MixTape, Crow’s Theatre, Where the Blood Mixes, Native Earth Performing Arts/Soulpepper); and sound designer Thomas Ryder Payne (Uncle Vanya, Orphans for the Czar, Crow’s Theatre).

    Download the show programme here: https://www.crowstheatre.com/uploads/PROGRAMMES/RedVelvet_Programme_Nov22.pdf

    CONTENT WARNING: This production contains themes of racism, and the use of racial epithets — including racial slurs. For more information please inquire with the box office. 

    "Red Velvet’s portrait of 19th century Shakespearean actor Ira Aldridge brings the thunder to Crow’s Theatre." The Globe and Mail CRITIC'S PICK
    "Director Cherissa Richards beautifully creates this charged world." The Slotkin Letter
    "Red Velvet engulfs you, envelops you, thrills you...it is a total emotional theatre experience. Ludwig Van Toronto
    "In a season of excellence Red Velvet is an affirmation of the power of live theatre, the best thing I’ve seen yet." BarczaBlog
    "Performed by a cast of eight luminaries from the likes of the Shaw and Stratford festivals." Our Theatre Voice


    Lolita Chakrabarti (Playwright) is an award-winning actress and playwright. Her debut play RED VELVET earned the Evening Standard Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright 2012; The Critics’ Circle Award for Most Promising Playwright 2013; AWA for Arts and Culture 2013 and an Olivier Award nomination for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre 2012. After two sold-out runs in London, RED VELVET transferred Off-Broadway then returned for Kenneth Brannagh's inaugural season at the Garrick Theatre in London's West End. In 2022, Lolita Chakrabarti won the Olivier Award for Best New Play for her stage adaptation of Yann Martel’s Booker Prize-winning novel, Life of Pi. A Broadway production at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre will open on March 30, 2023.
    Cherissa Richards (Director) has performed as an actor for over 20 years in theatres across the country. In 2016, Cherissa had her directing debut at Manitoba Theatre for Young People with Michel Miller’s The Power of Harriet T where her love affair with directing truly began. Most recently, Cherissa has been pursuing directing with internships at Bard on the Beach in Vancouver 2018, The Shaw Festival 2019, prior to the pandemic the Stratford Festival in 2020, and has assisted a number of renowned directors across Canada. In 2021, Cherissa co-directed Voice at Prairie Theatre Exchange, directed Meet me at Dawn with Theatre by the River, and was the recipient of the Crow’s Theatre RBC Rising Star Emerging Director Prize. Cherissa was one of the directing fellows in Why Not Theatre’s 2021 This Gen Fellowship, and received a directing diploma in her directing residency-independent study at the National Theatre School of Canada. In 2022 Cherissa directed the Vancouver debut of Harlem Duet at Bard on the Beach, and Backstage at Carnegie Hall, a modern opera with Montreal's BW Musique. She will be directing Hannah Moscovitch’s Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes at Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, assistant directing the epic four theatre tour of Fall on Your Knees, and Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar at the Bard on the Beach in 2023.
    Allan Louis (Ira Aldridge) has appeared for four seasons with the Shaw Festival amassing such credits as The Doctor’s Dilemma, Gem of the Ocean, Oh What a Lovely War, Grand Hotel, Dracula (with co-star Cherissa Richards), Saint Joan, Master Harold…and the Boys (and tour). Elsewhere, Allan Louis has appeared in I Am William, (Stratford Festival; Measure for Measure, Much Ado About Nothing, Julius Caesar, The Comedy of Errors (Canadian Stage); Here Are The Fragments (The Theatre Centre); and A Raisin in the Sun, My Children! My Africa!, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Hair, Antigone, The Black Star Line (Goodman Theatre).
  • The Team


    • Kyle Blair - Pierre Laporte
    • Ellen Denny - Ellen Tree
    • Starr Domingue - Connie
    • Nathan Howe - Casimir / Henry Forrester
    • Patrick McManus - Terrence / Bernard Warde
    • Jeff Lillico - Charles Kean
    • Allan Louis - Ira Aldridge
    • Amelia Sargisson - Halina Wozniak / Betty Lovell / Margaret Aldridge


    • Lolita Chakrabarti - Playwright
    • Cherissa Richards - Director
    • Julie Fox - Set and Props Designer
    • Ming Wong - Costume Designer
    • Arun Srinivasan - Lighting Designer
    • Thomas Ryder Payne - Sound Designer
    • Rais Clarke-Mendes - Assistant Director
    • Siobhan Richardson - Fight Director
    • Lisa Nighswander - Head of Props
    • Chris Faris - Head of Wardrobe
    • Jennifer Parr - Stage Manager
    • Farnoosh Talebpour - Assistant Stage Manager