THE LA MAMA CANTATA is a musical depiction of the life and times of Ellen Stewart, La MaMa’s late founder and artistic director, with a text comprised of Ms. Stewart’s own words and those of others who wrote about and knew the legendary woman affectionately called “Mama.”
As it travels through several decades of Ms. Stewart’s and La MaMa’s inseparable histories — beginning with Ms. Stewart’s arrival in New York from Louisiana via Chicago and her early career as a fashion designer for Saks Fifth Avenue — THE LA MAMA CANTATA captures the tenor of those seminal times in the 50’s and 60’s when it seemed wildly improbable that a woman of color could open a theatre “dedicated to the playwright and all aspects of the theatre,” thus creating the off-off-Broadway movement.
This theater piece, with actors, soloists, and a large chorus, reflects the joy, incredible humor, and guts of La MaMa’s leading lady, as well as her struggles and fights for survival. It is a story about artists who were transformed by the strength and heart of theater. Get ready for passion and spirit and a range of music that reflects La MaMa and Ellen herself. Nothing is predictable.
“If you want to see the best musical in town, head on over to La MaMa. This extraordinary piece of theatre should be seen by as many people as possible. It is a heart-filling, unforgettable experience.” – NYtheatre.com
“Like the best works at La MaMa over the years, the CANTATA is a dazzling showcase of diversity and imagination. The cast of 18 is alarmingly talented. They communicate Ellen’s words, commentary for her collaborators, along with passages from St. John and Corinthians to honor Ms. Stewart’s spiritual side with passion and joy. Swados’ score is magnificently varied, and filled with emotion.” – NYTheatre.com