American Prophet: Frederick Douglass in His Own Words




By special arrangement of Reggie Hill as Producer with Kathleen O’Brien and ShowTown Productions as Executive Producer


Music & Lyrics by MARCUS HUMMON


Choreographed by LORNA VENTURA

Music Direction, Orchestrations and Additional Arrangements by JOSEPH JOUBERT

*** Cornelius Smith Jr. and Kristolyn Lloyd to star as freedom fighters Frederick and Anna Douglass ***

(Black PR Wire) Washington, D.C. – Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater has announced the cast for the much-anticipated world-premiere musical American Prophet: Frederick Douglass in His Own Words, which kicks off the historic theater’s “Surviving and Thriving”-themed 2022/23 Season. Powered by Frederick Douglass’ own speeches and writings, and filled with soaring new melodies, this riveting new musical stars Cornelius Smith Jr. (ABC’s ScandalAll My Children) and Kristolyn Lloyd (Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen, CBS’s The Bold and the Beautiful) as freedom fighters Frederick and Anna Douglass, exploring Douglass’ rise from slavery to national prominence, and from forced illiteracy to the heights of literary and oratorical renown.

 Created by Charles Randolph-Wright (Arena’s Born for This: The BeBe Winans Story, Broadway’s Trouble in MindMotown the Musical) and Grammy Award winner Marcus Hummon (“Bless the Broken Road,” “Born to Fly”), American Prophet is the recipient of a prestigious Edgerton Foundation New Play Award. Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, with choreography by Lorna Ventura and music direction, orchestrations and additional arrangements by Joseph Joubert.

 American Prophet will run July 15 – August 28, 2022 in the Kreeger Theater. Press night will be held on Thursday, July 28 at 8 p.m.

 Frederick Douglass’ words serve as the inspiration, as well as the source material, for the musical. “American Prophet uses Douglass’s profound words from his books, speeches and letters to tell his story, and also the story of his wife Anna,” shares Randolph-Wright. “Those words inspire the stunning music Marcus has created to illuminate their phenomenal journey.” Hummon adds, “It’s the story of a man in the 19th century who had every reason to hate the Constitution and hate our country, yet taught us new ways to love our country and to make it better.”

 “When Charles Randolph-Wright first shared with me a few of Marcus Hummon’s songs, they took my breath away,” says Molly Smith, Arena Stage Artistic Director. “Celebrating the legacy of Frederick Douglass is timeless, and yet so very much needed for our time. The renewed and fueled social justice movement in our country looks very different now than back in Douglass’s day. His words, however, echo with even deeper meaning and impact. What Douglass has to say about freedom and life in America continues to resonate with great power.”

American Prophet marks Randolph-Wright’s 12th Arena Stage production. “Arena Stage is my theater home, and I am thrilled to return to my favorite audience, an audience that is so open to the multitude of stories the theater delivers every season.” Other Arena writing and directing credits include Born for This: The BeBe Winans Story (2016/17 Season) Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies (2009/10 Season), Blue (1999/00 Season) as well as Guys and Dolls (1999/00 Season) alongside American ProphetChoreographer Lorna Ventura, to name a few.

Cornelius Smith Jr.
Kristolyn Lloyd

American Prophet stars Cornelius Smith Jr. as Frederick Douglass alongside Kristolyn Lloyd as the fierce abolitionist’s wife, Anna Douglass.

Cast returning to Arena Stage are Carolyn Agan(Arena Stage Cabaret Nights), Kurt Boehm(CarouselBorn for This: The BeBe Winans Story), Thomas Adrian Simpson (Disney’s NewsiesAnything Goes) and Kanysha Williams(Step Afrika!’s Drumfolk).

 Making their Arena Stage debuts are Erica Aubrey (Playwrights Horizons’ Far From Heaven), Zoë Bryant (Howard University’s Flying West), Cicily Daniels (Broadway’s Once on This Island), Christopher B. Portley (Cleveland Play House’s Antigone), Christopher Michael Richardson (Woolly Mammoth’s A Strange Loop), Chris Roberts (Broadway’s The Civil War), Brendon Schaefer (Imagination Stage’s P.Nokio: A Hip-Hop Musical), Correy West (Broadway’s Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations) and Curtis Wiley(Broadway’s Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations).

.For full company biographies, please visit

Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director Molly Smith and Executive Producer Edgar Dobie, is a national center dedicated to American voices and artists. Arena Stage produces plays of all that is passionate, profound, deep and dangerous in the American spirit, and presents diverse and ground-breaking work from some of the best artists around the country. Arena Stage is committed to commissioning and developing new plays andimpacting the lives of over 10,000 students annually through its work in community engagement. Now in its eighth decade, Arena Stage serves a diverse annual audience of more than 300,000.

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