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Micki Grant Dies: Trailblazing ‘Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope’ Creator, ‘Another World’ Actress Was 80

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 2021-08-23
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Micki Grant , who wrote and starred in Broadway ’s groundbreaking 1972 Black musical revue Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope , died Sunday at the age of 80.

With Don’t Bother Me, Grant became the first woman to write both the music and lyrics to a Broadway musical, and her collaborator Vinnette Carroll entered the history books as the first Black woman to direct on Broadway.

Grant, whose death was first reported by the Broadway World website and confirmed by licensing and publishing company Concord Theatricals, returned to Broadway in 1976 by contributing additional music and lyrics for Alex Bradford’s musical Your Arms Too Short to Box with God , a retelling of the Book of Matthew directed by Carroll.

Described by Broadway director Kenny Leon as “a brilliant, passionate writer who gave everything to our industry,” Grant had already broken new ground on television by the time she made her seminal stand on Broadway, having first appeared in 1965 in what would be her longtime role of attorney Peggy Nolan on NBC’s daytime soap opera Another World .

According to a memoir published by Black daytime actress Ellen Holly, Grant’s Another World role had originally been written as a white character but was changed when Grant was hired as daytime’s first Black contract player.

Grant’s tenure from 1965 to 1972 also is credited with being daytime’s first regular story line written specifically for a Black actress. She later had roles in The Edge of Night, Guiding Light and All My Children .

Don’t Bother Me , Grant’s musical take on such topical subjects as Black power, slumlords, feminism and student protests, made its debut at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., featuring an innovative mix of gospel, calypso, jazz, rock and funk music. Restaged by Carroll, with choreography by George Faison, Don’t Bother Me , with music, lyrics and book by Grant, opened at Broadway’s since-demolished Playhouse Theatre on April 19, 1972.

The production received four Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical, Best Book, Best Original Score and Best Direction. Other accolades include an Obie Award, a Grammy Award and the NAACP Image Award.

A 1972 Los Angeles production starred actress Paula Kelly, and in 2018 Don’t Both Me was revived in New York by Encores!, directed and choreographed by Savion Glover.

Born Minnie Perkins in Chicago, Grant made her Broadway debut performing in a 1963 production of Langston Hughes’ Tambourines to Glory . She would later contribute music and lyrics to Broadway’s Working and Eubie , among others. Information on survivors and a cause of death were not immediately available.

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