“A master of the American vernacular” —The Library of Congress
Featured on over a dozen Riverwalk Jazz broadcasts, the award-winning actor and singer Vernel Bagneris has brought leading figures in jazz—including Bunk Johnson, Spencer Williams, Danny Barker and Jelly Roll Morton—to life for radio audiences.
Mr. Bagneris wrote, directed and starred in the original Off-Broadway and recent Broadway production of One Mo’ Time and its critically acclaimed sequel Further Mo’. He wrote and starred in Jelly Roll! and he starred in the original Broadway production of Cy Coleman’s musical The Life. With music legend Allen Toussaint as composer, he wrote and directed the R & B musical Staggerlee. On film, Mr. Bagneris appeared in Jim Jarmusch’s Down By Law, had a starring role in Herbert Ross’ Pennies From Heaven with Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters, and choreographed and appeared in the Taylor Hackford biopic on Ray Charles, Ray.
After Hurricane Katrina, he moved back to his hometown of New Orleans, where he continued his work in theater and in the city’s budding film industry. More recent film credits include Father of Lies and Proud, in addition to upcoming productions such as Dan Pritzner’s Bolden!, a fictitious biopic on Buddy Bolden; the Kirk Davis wacky comedy Welcome to Academia, and John Carter’s The Way of War starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. He can also be seen in the HBO series about New Orleans, Treme.