Theatrical Spotlights
Ken Wydro: Man of the Theater
Portrait of Ken Wydro

Photo credit: Chris Messina

A Man of Theater — A Multi-Leveled Contemporary

Mama, I Want to Sing 2014 Poster

Poster for the 2014 production of MAMA, I WANT TO SING, New York, NY.

  • Co-producer of JOE TURNER'S COME AND GONE, 1988 Tony Award Nominee for Best Play.
  • Co-creator, director and producer of the acclaimed musical, MAMA, I WANT TO SING, the longest-running, off-Broadway Black musical in the history of American theater.
  • Author of SECRETS: THE UNTOLD STORY OF SIGMUND FREUD AND CARL JUNG premiering in New York and London in 2012.

Alive! in 2014

Renee Walker and Brother Num Amun'Tehu performing in ALIVE! 55+ AND KICKIN' at the Dempsey Theater in 2014. Photo credit: Carol Rosegg.

KEN WYDRO is a published author, a produced playwright and lyricist, an experienced stage director, an active Broadway, off-Broadway and London producer, workshop and seminar leader, dream analyst and community leader in Harlem. He is the co-creator, director and producer of the acclaimed musical, MAMA, I WANT TO SING, the longest-running, off-Broadway Black musical in the history of American theater.

Playwright, Lyricist, Director, Broadway Producer

With his wife and creative partner, Vy Higginsen, Ken has written, produced and directed MAMA, I WANT TO SING: The Story Continues, BORN TO SING (Mama 3), and LET THE MUSIC PLAY GOSPEL, SING, HARLEM SING!, WE ARE! – The Gospel For Teens Musical (based on the 60 MINUTES, Emmy award-winning feature from 2012) and ALIVE! 55+ and Kickin'. Ken has written all the original lyrics on all these productions.

The Healing Power of Words and Music

As book and lyric writer, Ken has always explored the healing power of words and music. To his way of thinking, music and lyrics must not only tell the story. They must also have an emotional truth and soulful impact on the audience.

There is a tremendous power of healing and transforming when singing or even listening to story in song. In the subtext, there must be genuine emotion coming out of real and personal pain. Ken’s lyrics and stories always tell a "real" story which cannot be authentic without the pain of loss, disappointment, heartache and heart break. Why do those sad songs always feel so good to sing and to hear?

Tyrone Flowers and Kia Thornton-Miller in Sing Harlem Sing!  in 2012

Tyrone Flowers and Kia Thornton-Miller performing in SING HARLEM SING! at the Dempsey Theater in 2012. Photo credit: Carol Rosegg.

A Spiritual Pilgrimage

Thus, the act of composing music and writing words is a spiritual pilgrimage. The best songs come from the darkest nights and the hardest falls, expressing the set backs and the get backs that we all experience more than once.

Without the framework of healing and soul feeling in a song or in a musical, what is the point? The best musical theater touches and opens the heart, and has an emotional impact. With that dimension of healing and uplift, the original musical has a chance to live forever.