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‘Jaja’s African Hair Braiding’ to livestream final week of shows

Through the League of Live Stream Theater, the Manhattan Theatre Club production will broadcast live around the world.

(L-R) Kalyne Coleman and Maechi Aharanwa in “Jaja’s African Hair Braiding” on Broadway, 2023 (Credit: Matthew Murphy)

“Jaja’s African Hair Braiding” will be livestreamed during its final week of performances. The world-premiere comedy from Manhattan Theatre Club (MTC) will be broadcast live from Broadway’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre beginning with the evening performance on Nov. 14 through the final performance on Nov. 19. “Jaja’s,” which opened at Broadway’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on Oct. 3, has extended its limited run twice. 

The livestream is the result of a partnership between MTC and the League of Live Stream Theater (LOLST). “Jaja’s African Hair Braiding” will mark the first MTC production to be livestreamed.

“This is an exciting partnership that underscores our commitment to make Broadway accessible, while showcasing diversity in theatermakers and in stories,” said LOLST co-founder Oren Michels in a statement.

“Livestreaming theater begins to bridge the gap between traditional theater audiences and those who have not typically been part of the Broadway experience,” added LOLST co-founder Jim Augustine. “This includes those who have never been to a Broadway show and those who have never even considered it, individuals in correctional facilities, classrooms, underserved communities and every individual impacted by the challenges of in-person theater.”

“Reaching the widest audience possible has always been my goal with this play and I’m so thrilled that that will now be possible,” said “Jaja’s” playwright Jocelyn Bioh. “I can’t wait for audiences far and wide to come to the shop!”  

Chris Jennings, MTC executive director said, “We are delighted that ‘Jaja’s African Hair Braiding’ is the first Manhattan Theatre Club production to be livestreamed. Seeing this production is a joyous experience that we are excited to share with audiences outside of New York.”

The livestream of “Jaja’s” will mark the second LOLST broadcast from a Broadway house. The company first brought the Second Stage Theater production of “Between Riverside and Crazy” to households around the globe in January 2023. Augustine and Michels also collaborated with Second Stage for the livestream presentation of “Clyde’s” in 2022, prior to the official formation of LOLST. 

As a nonprofit organization, LOLST specifically collaborates with nonprofit theaters — on Broadway and around the United States — to produce livestreamed performances. 

Written by Bioh and directed by Whitney White, “Jaja’s” tracks a single day at a Harlem braiding salon, charting the interpersonal dramas, camaraderie and stories of the African-immigrant braiders and their clientele.

Read more: Making hair magic in ‘Jaja’s African Hair Braiding’

The cast features Brittany Adebumola, Maechi Aharanwa, Rachel Christopher, Kalyne Coleman, Somi Kakoma, Lakisha May, Nana Mensah, Michael Oloyede, Dominique Thorne and Zenzi Williams. Casting is by Caparelliotis Casting, Kelly Gillespie and Erica Hart. The company also includes Victoire Charles, Onye Eme-Akwari, Abigail C. Onwunali and Morgan Scott. 

The creative team includes scenic designer David Zinn, costume designer Dede Ayite, lighting designer Jiyoun Chang, composer and sound designer Justin Ellington, video designer Stefania Bulbarella, hair and wig designer Nikiya Mathis and dialect coach Dawn-Elin Fraser. Production stage management is by Melanie J. Lisby.

“Jaja’s African Hair Braiding” is produced by Manhattan Theatre Club (under the leadership of artistic director Lynne Meadow and executive director Jennings), Madison Wells Live, LaChanze and Taraji P. Henson.