Performing arts and philanthropy comes together in the form of a romantic comedy stage play, “Stop 2 Love,” Sept. 18-21 at the Wilshire Ebell Theater. Following the Sunday, Sept. 21 performance, there will be a celebrity gala with proceeds to benefit continuing research for women living with cancer.
Marvin Wright-Bey’s “Stop 2 Love” is presented by 4420 Woodland, Inc. It was inspired by the late Luther Vandross’ song, of the same title. It is a story that introduces “old school morals” to “new millennium independence,” uniting them for a humorous look at the joy of romance through the eyes of youth and the aging.
“This is the story of what could happen when one does not spend quality time with their loved ones,” says writer and director, Wright-Bey. “Things start to fall to the wayside, such as the relationship with their mate.”
The play tells the story of childhood sweethearts, Marcus Pride-an airline pilot, and Joy Pride-a record industry executive, whose troubled marriage is ending in divorce for the second time. The two share living quarters with Aunt Ruby, who is the eldest sister of Marcus’ mother. Often caught in the middle of the busy couple’s conflicts, Aunt Ruby-who has her own interesting relationship brewing with building manager/handyman Rodney-has her own agenda.
“Although Aunt Ruby is sympathetic to them and loves them dearly,” says Patricia Belcher, who plays Aunt Ruby, “I have to make some money and get to Vegas,” she exclaims in her character’s voice. “She (Aunt Ruby) is definitely a comedic character,” laughs Belcher.
Wright-Bey says that all of the characters have an element of comedy and that this production presents something different from his gospel plays over the last 10 years. “I wanted a situation comedy that would be a breath of fresh air to people,” says Wright-Bey. “There is not much music or dancing.”
The talents of eleven performers, and one off stage voice, will be displayed during the four-day showcase of this production.
La’Rita Shelby, who plays the role of Joy Pride, says it is the job of the actors to bring life to the words written by Wright-Bey and “execute an excellent performance.” In doing so she says “the audience will come face to face with their own expectations, frustrations, and idiosyncrasies with the hope of love and all the possibilities; realizing there is a time for people to stop, to start again, to regroup and keep growing.”
Also starring in “Stop 2 Love” are David Downing, Roscoe Freeman, Hilda Boulware, Cheryl Harvey-Way, Byron Nora, LaShawn E. Johnson, ThaJuan E. Johnson, Bradley Sanders, Earl P. Scott, and Max Thayer.
The organization presenting “Stop 2 Love,” 4420 Woodland, Inc. is a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit corporation “organized for the purpose of promoting the education of and appreciation for the arts through training programs and performances with emphasis on raising funds for other not-for-profit organizations.”
Wright-Bey, who founded the organization, says, “4420 Woodland was the address of my grandmother’s apartment when I was growing up in Cleveland. She was instrumental in my getting into show business. She was very, very encouraging.” He says he named the organization to honor the giving and philanthropic nature of his grandmother.