Rosetta: A Musical Theater Workshop



Marishka S. Phillips
Marishka Phillips

CTEK Arts is proud to bring back ROSETTA in a full-length version for a musical

workshop June 11-14. Based on the life of hot gospel and virtuoso guitarist Sister

Rosetta Tharpe (1915-1973), ROSETTA digs deep into life on the road, including

Europe, and the rogue loves of this iconic musician. The musical features 13

original songs. Book, lyrics and music are by Candyce Rusk, with music and

arrangement by Craig Toungate, both residents of Austin, Texas. Margaret Van

Sant directs, with musical direction by Clyde Shelby Mellert, both of


Marishka S. Phillips performs the role of Rosetta. Marishka is an actor’s actor

with an extraordinary wealth of talent. A native of Brooklyn, New York, Marishka

began performing at age of eight, and by the time she was thirteen, was cast in

the European tour of “Raisin”. Marishka honed her skills at the prestigious Alvin

Ailey School of Dance, the Broadway Dance Center, and Fordham University,

where she studied theater arts. Marishka performed in the Broadway musical,

“Uptown: It’s Hot”, directed by the legendary Maurice Hines, and starred in a host

of other musicals, including “Bubblin’ Brown Sugar”, “FAME: The Musical”, “The

Wiz”, and “The Me Nobody Knows”. On televison she was seen in “The Cosby

Show” and it’s spin-off “A Different World”, and has performed and toured with

Sean P.Diddy Combs, Christian Castro, and CeCe Winans.


The talented cast also includes Gabriel Calixte, Karen Paige Dash, RF Griff Griffith,

Kojo Littles, Clyde Shelby Mellert, Sarah Macdonnell, and Brian Nelson.


Sister Rosetta Tharpe was an American singer, songwriter, guitarist and

recording artist. A pioneer of twentieth-century music, Tharpe attained great

popularity in the 1930s and 1940s with her gospel recordings that were a unique

mixture of spiritual lyrics and rhythmic/early rock accompaniment. She became

gospel music’s first crossover artist and its first great recording star, referred to

later as “the original soul sister”. She was an early influence on figures such as

Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis.

Willing to cross the line between sacred and secular by performing her music of

“light” in the “darkness” of the nightclubs and concert halls with big bands behind

her, Tharpe pushed spiritual music into the mainstream and helped pioneer the

rise of pop–gospel beginning with her 1939 hit “This Train”. Her unique music left

a lasting mark on more conventional gospel artists such as Ira Tucker, Sr. of the

Dixie Hummingbirds. While she offended some conservative churchgoers with

her forays into the pop world, she never left gospel music.

Tharpe’s 1944 hit “Down By The Riverside” was selected for the American

Library of Congress National Recording Registry in 2004, with the citation stating

that it captured her “spirited guitar playing” and “unique vocal style”, which were

an influence on early rhythm and blues performers, as well as gospel, jazz, and

rock artists.


Tickets are $15.50 + $3.50 handling

Outer Cape Townie Tickets are $5 + $3.50 handling. Must present id at the box office showing residence in Ptown, Truro, or Wellfleet.