August Darnell, pictured with comedian Sandra Barnard, has earn six Viv Award nominations for his first theatrical production 'Cherchez La Femme.'

August Darnell, pictured with comedian Sandra Barnard, has earn six Viv Award nominations for his first theatrical production ‘Cherchez La Femme.’

August Darnell, better known as Kid Creole from his rock and roll days, and writing partner Vivian Goldman have earned six AUDELCO Viv Award nominations for excellence in black theater in New York City for their musical Cherchez La Femme.

Darnell said he was both pleasantly surprised and excited about the honors bestowed on his semi-autobiographical musical and first theatrical production.

“I am so pleased to receive this news. Now I can truly add ‘playwright’ to my resume. That is something I have desired for a very long time.

“Good fortune put me in the right place at the right time…with the right team,” he said.

IM first reported on Darnell’s venture into theater in April.

Darnell personified ’80s pop culture, as larger-than-life Calypso bon vivant “Kid Creole,” leader of the band Kid Creole & The Coconuts.

The 1980s were so grand, colorful, and over-the-top they were dubbed “The Big ’80s.” Cherchez La Femme, which debuted at the iconic La Mama Theater in East Greenwich Village, captured the spirit of the times through Darnell’s life.

Cherchez La Femme Nominations

* Outstanding Performance in a Musical, Female: Traci Michelle

* Outstanding Performance in a Musical, Male: Isaac Gay

* Outstanding Performance in a Musical, Male: CB Murray

* Director/Musical Production: Angie Kristic

* Choreography: Kyndra “Binkie” Reevey

* Musical Production of the Year: Cherchez La Femme: A Musical Excuse


Co-writer Goldman covered Kid Creole and the Coconuts as a journalist in the 1980’s, and the two have kept in touch since then.

“To see August’s and my long-cherished dream of Cherchez la Femme not just fulfilled, but honored by these nominations for the Audelco Award, is particularly thrilling,” she said.

When August first burst onto the music scene in 1976, he was one fifth of the legendary disco group, Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band. When they dramatically hit the dance scene, with their retro-’40s Big-Band-meets-disco debut album, they won over critics and created the huge chart hit “Cherchez La Femme.”

Along with his brother Stony Browder, brassy lead singer Cory Daye, percussionist Andy Hernandez and Micky Sevilla, the band drew so much attention that they were nominated for a Grammy Award as Best New Artist.

Although they did not win the Grammy, they won the hearts of devoted fans around the world.

August offered some insights and thoughts on his entry into the world of theater in an interview with TheImproper.

IM: So, how did this come about that now is the time that you have chosen to do this? Were you watching Sting [The Last Ship], and Elton John [The Lion King / Aida], and ABBA [Mama Mia], and all these people having musicals on Broadway? Was that an inspiration?

Darnell: “Yeah! Watching them and getting pissed off! So basically I just got burnt out doing the road tours for Kid Creole & The Coconuts, the plane rides and the hotels, and the bad food, and all the shitty sound checks. I just got burned out on it. But, I am still doing the shows, but I am not liking it as much as I used to. So I figured that I had to make this trip across the bridge from pop music into the theater while I still had my wits about me. So I figured the time was ‘now or never.’ And then I got very lucky because I met a gentleman whose name is Julius Hollingsworth—a great name—who said he had a great relationship with the La Mama Theater. So he brought me down there, and ‘the rest is history.’ You know how difficult it is to get a space in New York? So, I got very lucky with that, that this gentleman brought me into La Mama. Then we did a ‘staged reading’ of it last year and La Mama liked it, and the rest is history, and that’s why we are now where we are.”

IM: Can you give me some sort of a synopsis of the play? When does it take place? Where is it set?

Darnell: “It is set in New York City, and in Haiti: in the Caribbean and New York. It is set in 1984, and there are flashbacks that go to 1982. But it pokes fun at the lifestyle in New York in the 1980s, and we have fun with the Mudd Club references, and Glenn O’Brien references, and Anita Sarko references, and Arthur Weinstein references, and all of these 1984 references are in there.”

“It is about a band leader whose name is Caufy Keeps, based roughly on a guy named August Darnell. And Caufy Keeps has this band, and they have just gotten their first record, and instead of him going on the tour that they are booked on, he decides to fly off to Haiti. He is having a rift with his girlfriend, so he goes off to Haiti to find his girl and he pisses off his band members, he pisses off his background singers, he pisses off his best buddy, because they’ve all failed this tour just because of his romantic escapades. That is basically the story in a nutshell.”

The 44th Annual “Viv” Awards will be held on Nov. 21 at Symphony Space in New York City. For more information check out their Web site.

See a full list of nominees below, let us know your thoughts and be sure to follow IM on Twitter for the latest theater news.


[NOTE: Entertainment journalist Mark Bego first interviewed August Darnell 40 years ago when Darnell was part of Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band in 1976. August is set to be part of Bego’s entry into the cookbook arena, Cooking With Rock Stars set for October 2017 release (Skyhorse Publishing).]

AUDELCO Viv Awards 2016 Nominees
LIGHTING DESIGN
Alan C. Edwards (Macbeth)
Nathan Hawkins/William Kenyon (Blood at the Root)
Tyler Micoleau (Familiar)
Austin R. Smith (The Royale)
Thom Weaver (The Total Bent)

SET DESIGN
Michael Carnahan (Skeleton Crew)
Maruti Evans (Dead and Breathing)
G.W. Mercier (Head of Passes)
Clint Ramos (Familiar)
Daniel Robinson (The First Noel)

COSTUME DESIGN
Dede M. Ayite (The Royale)
Gabriel Berry (The Total Bent)
Rachel Dozier-Ezell (Macbeth)
Susan Hilferty (Familiar)
Toni-Leslie James (Head of Passes)

SOUND DESIGN
Obadiah Eaves/Sten Severson (The Total Bent)
Rob Kaplowitz (Skeleton Crew)
John McKenna (Macbeth)
Liz Sokolak (Blood at the Root)
Darron L. West (Familiar)

DIRECTOR/DRAMATIC PRODUCTION
Carl Cofield (Macbeth)
Kenny Leon (Smart People)
Jonathan McCrory (Dead and Breathing)
Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Skeleton Crew)
Liesl Tommy (Eclipsed)

DIRECTOR/MUSICAL PRODUCTION
Steve H. Broadnax III (The First Noel)
Jeff Calhoun (Maurice Hines Tappin’ Thru Life)
Angie Kristic (Cherchez La Femme: A Musical Excuse)
Joanna Settle (The Total Bent)

PLAYWRIGHT
Lydia Diamond (Smart People)
Colman Domingo (Dot)
Danai Gurira (Familiar)
Chisa Hutchinson (Dead and Breathing)
Dominique Morisseau (Skeleton Crew)
Marco Ramirez (The Royale)

SUPPORTING ACTOR
Francois Battiste (Head of Passes)
Jason Dirden (Skeleton Crew)
Michael Potts (Mother Courage and Her Children)
Larry Powell (The Christians)
David Roberts (The Fall of the Kings)
Kim Sullivan (The Piano Lesson)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Ito Aghayere (Familiar)
Alana Arenas (Head of Passes)
Vinie Burrows (I Will Look Forward to This Later)
Montego Glover (The Royale)
Nikiya Mathis (Skeleton Crew)
Linda Powell (The Christians)
Myra Lucretia Taylor (Familiar)

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE IN A MUSICAL – FEMALE
Tina Fabrique (The First Noel)
Ashley Ware Jenkins (The First Noel)
Traci Michelle (Cherchez La Femme: A Musical Excuse)

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE IN A MUSICAL – MALE
Ato Blankson-Wood (The Total Bent)
Isaac Gay (Cherchez La Femme: A Musical Excuse)
Vondie Curtis Hall (The Total Bent)
Maurice Hines (Maurice Hines

Tappin’ Thru Life)
CB Murray (Cherchez La Femme: A Musical Excuse)
Nathaniel Stampley (The First Noel)

CHOREOGRAPHY
Brian Harlan Brooks (The First Noel)
Maurice Hines (Maurice Hines Tappin’ Thru Life)
David Neumann (The Total Bent)
Tiffany Rea-Fisher (Macbeth)
Kyndra “Binkie” Reevey (Cherchez La Femme: A Musical Excuse)

OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE
A Lovely Malfunction (Negro Ensemble Company)
Barbecue (The Public Theater)
but I cld only whisper (The Flea)
Dead and Breathing (National Black Theatre)
Eclipsed (The Public Theater)
Proof (Quick Silver Theatre/Classics in Color Theatre Co.)
Timeless: The Mystery of the Dark Water (Black Spectrum Theatre)

SOLO PERFORMANCE
Trezana Beverley (Mabel Madness)
Staceyann Chin (Motherstruck!)
Cherie Danielle (The Diary of An Afro Goddess)
Tommie J. Moore (Dare to Be Black: The Jack Johnson Story)
Khalil Muhammad (Pryor Truth)
Reginald L. Wilson (Sugar Ray)

LEAD ACTOR
Mahershala Ali (Smart People)
Khris Davis (The Royale)
RJ Foster (Richard III)
Wendell B. Franklin (Skeleton Crew)
Joe Morton (Turn Me Loose)
Jahi Kassa Taquara (The Piano Lesson)

LEAD ACTRESS
Lynda Gravatt (Skeleton Crew)
Marjorie Johnson (Dot)
Kecia Lewis (Mother Courage and Her Children)
Phylicia Rashad (Head of Passes)
Tessa Thompson (Smart People)
Tamara Tunie (Familiar)

BEST REVIVAL
In the Heights (Harlem Repertory Theatre)
In White America (New Federal Theatre)
Macbeth (Classical Theatre of Harlem)
Mother Courage and Her Children (Classic Stage Company)
Proof (Quick Silver Theatre/Classics in Color Theatre Co.)
The Piano Lesson (Gallery Players)
Walk Hard (Metropolitan Playhouse)

MUSICAL PRODUCTION OF THE YEAR
Cherchez La Femme: A Musical Excuse (La Mama)
Maurice Hines Tappin’ Thru Life (New World Stages)
The First Noel (Classical Theatre of Harlem)
The Total Bent (The Public Theater)

DRAMATIC PRODUCTION OF THE YEAR
Dead and Breathing (National Black Theatre)
Dot (Vineyard Theatre)
Familiar (Playwrights Horizons)
Skeleton Crew (Atlantic Theater Company)
Smart People (Second Stage Theatre).
The Royale (Lincoln Center Theater)

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