Boulevard of Bold Dreams closes out ‘Banned for Being Bold’ season

“Though you grow weary, you got the strength to keep going. You keep fighting, and you keep on dreaming!” – Hattie, Boulevard of Bold Dreams.

On February 29, 1940, the 12th Academy Awards ceremony took place in the Cocoanut Grove at the Ambassador Hotel. This celebration of films from 1939 made history when Hattie McDaniel became the first Black artist to win an Oscar for her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind. A win that elevated her to a symbol of racial progress, but made her a pariah to much of Black America.

Boulevard of Bold Dreams by LaDarrion Williams is the final show in Alley Repertory Theater’s “Banned for Being Bold’ season.  This play is a dynamic story about McDaniel stopping at the Ambassador Hotel to debate if she should attend the biggest night in show business.  The bartender, Arthur, and the maid, Dottie, do everything in their power to convince her to claim her historic win. Boulevard of Bold Dreams is a story of dreamers striving to overcome considerable obstacles and fighting for recognition amidst the racism and inequity of the ever-changing landscape of Hollywood.

McDaniel’s win was a historical one. In the 84 years since, only nine Black women have won an Oscar in a performance category. Only one, Halle Berry, has been awarded an Academy Award in the Best Actress category. (McDaniel, Whoopi Goldberg, Jennifer Hudson, Mo’Nique, Octavia Spencer, Lupita Nyong’o, Viola Davis, Regina King, and Ariana DeBose all won for Best Actress in a Supporting Role).

Boulevard of Bold Dreams premiered at the Timeline Theater in Chicago in February 2023. Williams was also a featured playwright at Boise Contemporary Theater’s Third Annual BIPOC festival in August 2023.

Boulevard of Bold Dreams: Meet the cast

A powerhouse cast of three takes center stage in this production. John Wicks (Arthur) was last seen on stage at Alley Rep in the fall of 2022 in Hot Asian Doctor Husband. Wicks also appeared in Sweat at BCT in 2023 and has also worked with ISF and the Boise Bard Players.

Wicks also currently serves as the DEI Program Manager for Alley Rep.

Cynthia Atanga (Dottie) and Shana Tavares (Hattie) are making their Alley Rep debuts with this production. Atanga was recently in the staged reading and radio recording for Starring Jane Eyre at Stage Coach Theater and Radio Boise.

Tavares recently was seen as the Ghost of Christmas Past in A Christmas Carol at BLT. Other credits include: The Inspector in An Inspector Calls (BLT) and as the voice of Charlotte Brontë in the reading of Starring Jane Eyre (Radio Boise and Stage Coach Theater)

Production crew

Dakotah Brown makes his return to Alley Rep as director for Boulevard of Bold Dreams. Brown previously worked with playwright Williams in the recent BIPOC Playwrights’ festival, and wants more than anything to be a good custodian of Williams’ incredible voice and spirit.

Brown is a longtime member of the Alley Rep family, most recently seen in The RoyaleHe is a founding member of the Boise Bard Players and has worked with and for nearly every theater company in the Boise area.

Assisting in director duties is Bren Trotter, who recently appeared in Alley Rep’s production of Hair. And calling the shots from the booth is stage manager Elena Maddy.

Other production team members include:

Boulevard of Bold Dreams hits the stage at Visual Arts Collective with a pay-what-you-want preview on February 29, 2024. Opening night is March 1, with evening performances on March 2, 7, 8, 9 and matinees on March 3, 10.

Listen to an interview with Brown and Tavares via Boise State Public Radio

main image credit: Chaz Gentry