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Singin Wid A Sword In Ma Han is a musical docudrama; a story of love and the strength of the African American family during the time of slavery. The principle character, Topper, is a slave woman who recounts her family's escape from slavery via the Underground Railroad. Spirtuals are a prominent vehicle in this story of self-determination: pointing the way, providing spiritual uplift and warnings, as well as instructions. These songs serve to effectively highlight the heretofore unsung heroes of the Underground Railroad, the everyday Black man and woman, slave and free, dismissively known as the Slave Grapevine. Singin is cast against the many dangers and countless acts of bravery and treason, in a slave family's determination and journey to escape to freedom.

Contact: Vienna Carroll (212) 491-6617 and

Press Release
West Harlem Development Corp logo     New York Public Library logo     American Theatre of Harlem logo       Green Gurl logo  

Contact: Vienna Carroll

West Harlem Library Series
SINGIN WID A SWORD IN MA HAN:An Underground Railroad Love Story

Wed, Oct 23, 2013. 4 pm  - Hamilton Grange Branch,  503 W 145th St
Fri, Oct 25, 2013.  3pm - Morningside Heights Branch, 2900 Broadway
Sat, Oct 26, 2013. 2pm - George Bruce Branch, 518 West 125th St

GreenGurl Productions is proud to present the award-winning musical play, Singin Wid A Sword In Ma Han: An Underground Railroad Love Story  (****4-Stars Time Out) in the West Harlem Library Series. 

In Singin a free woman tells the story of her family's escape from slavery via the Underground Railroad, interweaving the Spirituals as escape songs.  On the eve of her return to the plantation to rescue her recaptured sister-in-law, Topper recounts her tale in a church aided by her five free friends who make up a Griot Chorus and accompany her with voice and hand percussion. Singin shows a surprising range of conductors on the Slave Grapevine that was the actual Underground Railroad.

The story opens in the 1850s, on a Maryland plantation, when Topper is sold away from her fiancé Nate, forcing the whole family into a decision to escape.  They head for Columbia PA -- where runaways are given free land -- while ruthlessly pursued by the notorious slave catchers, the Gap Gang, who were permitted by the Fugitive Slave Law to cross into free states to hunt them down.  The escape of course doesn't go according to plan, and therein lies the story.

Sponsored by the NY Public Library, West Harlem Development Corporation, American Theatre of Harlem and GreenGurl Productions, Singin is a chance for the entire family to enjoy and experience history and song together for free at the great New York Public Library Branches in West Harlem.

Singin is a musical docudrama created by actor, singer, historian, writer and long-time resident of Harlem, Vienna Carroll. It is directed by founding member of The American Theatre of Harlem, Keith Johnston. Show runs 60 minutes.

"Singin highlights unsung heroes of the Underground Railroad and joins other recent works in calling for a fresh new look at our shared American past," said Carroll. 

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Publicity Materials

Click below photos and posters to view larger.

Vienna Carroll Headshot

Vienna Carroll Headshot


NY International Fringe Festival
International Fringe Festival--NYC

Schomburg 2011
Schomburg Center 2012- Singin Wid A Sword In Ma Han

Hudson River Museum
Hudson River Museum - Singin Wid A Sword In Ma Ha - Vienna Carroll

Underground Railroad Festival Program
Underground Railroad Festival program


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Poster from FringeNYC summer show

Download and print posters:
11" x 17", PDF, 7.3MB version
Lower res/JPG 1.5MB version

Credit all images to © 2009 Dixie Sheridan

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Photos From SchombUrg show

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Harlem, New York

Vienna Carroll welcomes the audience to the play I can't hear you! Mom Kessie seperating two squabling sisters No slave babies
Cato the barber telling tales Surprised by a maroon no hidin' place run for it! bravo! (click image to see full size) (lighting design: Peter Leonard)


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Time Out New York review
4 Stars- "Captivating Docudrama"
"The vibrant songs are both moving and catchy." "Anyone who enjoys enthusiastic church choirs and oral storytelling will be singin' along."
(9-17-09) Read entire review. review
"funny, warm, touching, and engaging"
"Vienna Carroll and Ade Herbert are both gifted and charming performers"
"All the performers have beautiful, resonant voices..." "simply and effectively directed by Keith E. Johnston... skillfully lit by Peter Leonard. ...effectively enraptures us... a play full of great and simple achievements." (9-17-09) Read entire review.

"Wonderful... moving Underground Railroad love story... beautifully sung... creative imagery." Read more.
Sandra A. Daley, North Star News

"I highly recommend the showing of the docudrama SINGIN WID A SWORD IN MA HAN in any possible venue...entertaining, educational and inspiring." Charlotte Schachter, President, Friends of the Mount Vernon Public Library (2/4/2013).

Mount Vernon Daily Voice review.

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Vienna Carroll



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Scene Summary


Education and Outreach

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For more info email or
call Vienna Carroll (212) 491-6617