Editor’s Pick: “Grace” at Ford’s Theatre

Grace: Nova Y Payton -- Photo: André Chung
Nova Y. Payton in Ford’s Grace – Photo: André Chung

Ford’s Theatre has restarted its 2021-2022 season with what the organization bills as “an electrifying musical celebrating the perseverance of family and the power of traditions,” with a specific focus on African-American food, family, and culture.

D.C.-based multi-hyphenate artist Nolan Williams, Jr. was inspired to create Grace after conducting extensive research into Black culinary history, including pioneers chronicled in W. E. B. Du Bois’s seminal work The Philadelphia Negro.

With music and lyrics by Williams and a book by Williams in collaboration with Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer Nikkole Salter (In The Continuum), Grace captures a day in the life of a fictional Philadelphia family mourning the loss of their matriarch and discussing the future of the family restaurant in a changing neighborhood.

The heartwarming, hopeful, timely tale offers an eclectic mix of jazz and R&B, in styles ranging from spirited up-tempo jams to soul-fired ballads, all brought to fully realized, vivid life by eight powerhouse performers, including Nova Y. Payton, Rayshun Lamarr, Solomon Parker, and Arica Jackson.

Robert Barry Fleming, a former programming director at Arena Stage who now leads Kentucky’s Actors Theatre of Louisville, heads the creative team as director and choreographer.

In previews. Opens Wednesday, March 30. Runs through May 14. Ford’s is at 511 10th St. NW. Tickets are $22 to $81, with various discounts available. Call 202-347-4833 or visit

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