The Black & White Ball


It’s 1966. 

Summer in New York City. America is a country in transition. Racial tensions are coming to a head. Black Power is a new catch-phrase in all the daily papers. The country is divided over the Vietnam War. Protests and violence are everywhere. The classes are ready to clash! And best selling In Cold Blood novelist Truman Capote announces he will host a Black and White Ball for five hundred of his closest friends at New York’s elite Plaza Hotel. In the depths of Brooklyn, Emma, a pretty orphaned teenage black girl whose mother taught her to read the society columns and to reach for the sky, longs to go to Truman’s Black and White Ball, thinking that it will really be a black and white ball, a party to bring the races together. When no invitation arrives in Emma’s mailbox, she and her next door neighbor, the smitten and artistic Mikey, decide to take the subway to Manhattan, find and stalk Truman Capote and get him to give her a deserved invite. When Truman meets the lovely, innocent and very unique Emma, he decides to make her his latest project. To groom her as Henry Higgins groomed Eliza Doolittle so that she will fit in at his Black and White Ball. He will make her the subject of his a new story. Another step into the world of the non-fiction novel that he has pioneered. But this time Truman will control and create his subject. How Truman and his Swans (fabled rich beauties who fawn over Capote) come up against Emma and her stepbrothers ("Emma, who do you think you are? You’re Black!") is the story of The Black and White Ball.


The demo album of The Black & White Ball


Creative Team


Todd Ellison


Hailed by The New York Times as one of “Broadway’s Electric Conductors,” Ellison is one of the most accomplished and sought after music director/composers working today. 

Currently the Music Supervisor/Conductor/arranger of the new Broadway bound musical Roman Holiday, he is also the composer of the award winning new musical The Black and White Ball with Stephen Cole, as well as The Canterville Hotel with Brendan Cull. He also composed the songs “The Long Way” for Emily Skinner, and “Gettin’ Nowhere Fast” for Guy Haines.

He is currently the Music Supervisor of An American in Paris at the Dominion Theater in London’s West End , as well as 42nd Street at the Drury Lane Theater

His Broadway credits include Michel Legrand’s AmourMonty Python’s Spamalot (Best Musical Tony Award), La Cage aux Folles (Best Musical Revival Tony Award), 42nd Street (Best Revival Tony Award ), Elton John’s LestatAnnieThe Wild PartyOn the TownOnce Upon a Mattress (starring Sarah Jessica Parker), How To Succeed (starring Matthew Broderick), She Loves MeTaller than a Dwarf and A Class Act

He was the music director of the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular” at the famed Radio City Music Hall for several seasons. 

As Marvin Hamlisch’s music director, Ellison worked with him on his productions of Ballroom and The Nutty Professor directed by Jerry Lewis. 

For City Center’s Encores!, he conducted their acclaimed version of On The Town and The Bandwagon

Internationally he has conducted at the Vienna Konzerthaus with Dawn Upshaw and Jerry Hadley, The Dublin Film Orchestra, Radio City Christmas Spectacular (Mexico City), World Science Festival at Lincoln Center, Cole Porters’ Jubilee at Carnegie Hall, the Pittsburgh Symphony, San Diego Symphony, The Philly Pops, Nashville Symphony, Long Beach Symphony, New Haven, New Jersey and York Symphonies. 

He has conducted more than 20 albums including the Grammy Award winning cast albums of his shows. He has accompanied such stars as Beyonce´, Meryl Streep, Mike Nichols, Nicole Kidman, Barry Manilow, Jane Lynch, Bea Arthur, David Hyde Pierce, Tracey Ullman and Kelsey Grammar. 

Born in Essex, Connecticut, Ellison began his piano lessons at age 6 and is a graduate of Boston University School of Music with a degree in piano performance.


Hannah Ryan


Resident Director Hamilton: An American Musical on Broadway & US Tour, An American in Paris on Broadway, Founding collaborator of Nettelworks: a creative collective, Director: The Village (Drama League: 2019 Next Stage Residency)  Every Path (La Jolla Playhouse & Moxie Theatre) Still Life (Keller Gallery) The Guys (NYC site-specific locations commemorating FDNY’s 150th anniversary- Davenport Theatre) Ascended (Zoetic Stage) New York Theatre Workshop Gala (Plaza Hotel), Drama League's 100th Birthday Celebration starring Lena Hall, Bebe Neuwirth, John Gallagher Jr., Adam Kantor, et al (54 Below),  The Big Announcement (Drama League’s Rough Draft Series) Let’s Misbehave: A Tribute to Cole Porter (Mr. Finn’s Cabaret) Cendrillon and Gianni Schicchi (Point Loma Opera Theatre) Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Forced Marriage, Only in New York, et al (Point Loma Playhouse).  Associate Director The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time on Broadway, a new musical Circus in Winter (Goodspeed Musicals & Center Ring Theatrical), world premiere The Golem of Havana (Barrington Stage Company & Miami New Drama) Assistant Director to Des McAnuff on Broadway’s Doctor Zhivago and Billy Crystal 700 Sundays (HBO), Christopher Plummer’s A Word or Two (Center Theatre Group and Stratford Festival- Ahmanson Theatre), Fetch Clay, Make Man (New York Theatre Workshop), Sideways and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (La Jolla Playhouse). Chasing the Song, A Dram of Drummhicit and A Midsummer Nights Dream with Christopher Ashley (La Jolla Playhouse), Sleeping Beauty Wakes with Rebecca Taichman (La Jolla Playhouse), God of Carnage and Nobody Loves You (The Old Globe), Kiss Me Kate (Barrington Stage Company) Member of SDC, Drama League Director’s Project Fellow, SDC Foundation Denham Fellow.

Stephen Cole.jpg

Stephen Cole

Book & Lyrics

Stephen Cole is an award-winning musical theatre writer whose shows have been recorded, published, and produced from New York City to London to the Middle East and Edinburgh, Scotland. Stephen's 13 produced musicals include: After the Fair, The Night of The Hunter , Saturday Night at Grossinger's, Casper (Chita Rivera), Dodsworth (Dee Hoty and Hal Linden) and The Road to Qatar! 

In 2014, Cole wrote and directed Inventing Mary Martin, which played Off-Broadway starring Emily Skinner, Jason Graae, Lynne Halliday and Cameron Adams. Other produced shows include two family musicals commissioned by Walden Media: Merlin's Apprentice (Music by Matthew Ward) and Rock Odyssey (Music and Lyrics by Billy Straus). Rock Odyssey has been annually produced the last ten years at the Arscht Center in Miami. Stephen's musical Merman's Apprentice (Music by David Evans) had several sold out concert performances at NYC's famed Birdland and has a highly praised cast album on Jay Records. 

Stephen is also a published author with four books to his credit including THAT BOOK ABOUT THAT GIRL and I COULD HAVE SUNG ALL NIGHT, the autobiography of the late Marni Nixon, Noel Coward and Charles Strouse's memoir PUT ON A HAPPY FACE.In addition, Cole has written special material for Marlo Thomas, Phil Donahue, Liz Smith, Liza Minnelli, Michelle Lee, and Bernadette Peters to name a few.

Stephen is honored to be the winner of the prestigious Edward Kleban Award. Award for his musical The Night of the Hunter, written with the late composer, Claibe Richardson. 

His current works in progress are The Black and White Ball (Music by Todd Ellison) and Goin' Hollywood (Music by David Krane).



Fun Facts about Truman Capote's Black and White Ball



The ball was inspired by Cecil Beaton's black and white designs for the Ascot Scene in My Fair Lady and Beaton was angry at Capote for stealing his idea.


To keep the party both traditional and contemporary, Capote hired the Peter Duchin Orchestra and an all black rock band called the Soul Brothers of Detroit to spell them during breaks.


Capote banned any critic who dared to give In Cold Blood a bad review.


Capote invited first daughter Lynda Bird Johnson, but not her steady beau, George Hamilton.


Capote slighted Tiffany's because he felt he gave them enough publicity when he wrote Breakfast at Tiffany's.


Capote invited 11 people from the Kansas town where he did all his In Cold Blood research. They all stayed at the Plaza and partied till 3:30 AM.


The Black and White Ball commanded more media attention than the Beatles did when they stayed at the Plaza in February 1964 to tape The Ed Sullivan Show.


Duchin's band played show tunes by guests: Alan Jay Lerner, Comden and Green, Harold Arlen, all while Jerome Robbins danced with Lauren Bacall.


Among the invitee not in attendance were Edward Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy, Mayor John Lindsay, Nelson Rockefeller, Mike Nichols, and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, who thought "frugging with Kay Graham was in bad taste while the Vietnam War raged."


It rained the night of the ball. Weather was the only thing Capote could not control.


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