Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Why I Love Colman Domingo And Other Thoughts

 I first met Colman Domingo in 2008 when I was part of the marketing team for the Tony Award winning musical PASSING STRANGE. I thought that both he and the musical were amazing. He is an artist of great skill, depth and scope. AND he is not hard on the eyes.

In 2010 I witnessed Colman's work as a playwright and solo performer. A BOY AND HIS SOUL was an autobiographical trip through his life in Philadelphia underscored and punctuated by some serious soul music. I laughed, sang and cried during that 90 minutes. I, too, hail from Philly so it was great to hear the music and recognize the places that held great meaning for me.

Next up, a Tony nomination for THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS.  Although many in the African-American community were outraged by the work, Colman never, ever lost focus or his dignity as an artist, serving as a bridge between the producers, director and the community.

With the opening of the Signature Theatre's new $75 million space on West 42nd Street, I finally got to see Colman perform in a play -- Athol Fugard's BLOOD KNOT. All I could say after that performance was "Wow." Up until that point I had only known Colman as a song-and-dance-musical-theater-guy. Fugard makes the actor and the audience dig deep. And dig we did. I couldn't wait to see him do another play. Little did I know the next play I would see him in would be WILD WITH HAPPY -- an ensemble piece that he wrote.

WILD WITH HAPPY takes us to the bizarre comedy that lies between death and healing.  I have never laughed so hard or cried so much  during a production. Why? Because Colman always delivers me to a place that allows me to embrace/celebrate my humanity fully, without question and without judgement.

Want to experience why I love Colman Domingo? Go see WILD WITH HAPPY. It is playing at The Public Theater (425 Lafayette St @ Astor Place) through November 18, 2012. Use code STORM and get your tickets for $25. 212.967.7555. www.publictheater.org. www.colmandomingo.com


I went to see THE PIANO LESSON, the stunning rival of the Pulitzer Prize winning drama by August Wilson, deftly directed by Tony winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson. This Saturday matinee was sold-out with a wonderfully diverse audience of black and white theater goers.

Well -- the white folks in the audience did not, I repeat did not, like the call and response/commenting tradition of black audiences. When black folks started to talk, we got shushed! SHUSHED! Shushed and shut down. There was very little vocalizing after the shush shutdown. Later on during the performance one lone "Oh Oh!" was met by much sucking of the teeth. When I left the theater, I heard two white women laughing about the running commentary of the people behind them and how "terribly annoying" it all was.

All I could think of was the line from PURLIE VICTORIOUS by Ossie Davis -- and I am sure I am paraphrasing this:  "It sure is fun being colored -- when there ain't nobody looking."

THE PIANO LESSON is playing at Signature Theatre, 480 W. 42nd Street through December 16. www.signaturetheatre.org., 212.244.7529. Go see it. And make some noise.


My good friend Mo Beasley has co-written a play called ICED OUT. It is a drama infused with movement, music, spoken word, monologues and scenes that draw a straight line between the legacy of slavery and the conditions/behavior/lives of the descendants of the enslaved. It is a riveting work with tour de force performances from Stephanie Berry and Bianca LaVerne Jones. GO SEE IT. It runs through November 18 at the National Black Theatre, www.nationalblacktheatre.org, 212.722.3800, 2033 5th Avenue @ 125th Street, NYC.

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