Hollywood, CA — When a well-dressed woman wearing a coordinating well designed hat walks into a room, your attention immediately goes to the top of her head. You study the hat, how regal she looks in it, and then your eyes travel down the rest of her body, taking it all in, and you know that she knows…she looks good.
When a Black woman wears a hat, it’s more than just a hat, it’s a crown. It’s a statement, and its part of a rich legacy; one with which we should get back in touch, and the Ebony Repertory Theatre (ERT) has just what we need in song, dance, styling and profiling.
“Crowns” is now playing at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center. It’s more than just a musical about hats or “Crowns” that Black women ware as a way to celebrate their beauty and the fact that they are alive and vital. “Crowns” is about history, the Black woman’s journey through good and turbulent times, and how the selection of the perfect “Crown” for any occasion was often her only selfish act.
It takes a very special play, an outstanding cast, and excellent direction to bring such a monumental story to life. To begin with Actress Regina Taylor (CBS’ “The Unit”) adapted “Crowns” from the very popular coffee table book of the same title. Taylor brought an urban lifestyle to a very Southern tradition, reminding us all, no matter how high or how lost we get, we can always go home, where the sisters who know the meaning of their “Crowns” will always embrace you. The cast dazzles the audience with song, dance and intimate portraits of their lives in turmoil and love. Much of the action takes place in church, and that ‘old time religion’ through classic Gospel will have you rocking in your seats. But it’s the cast who brings light, love and laughter to the audience.
Emmy nominated Actress and dancer Paula Kelly (“Women of Brewster Place”), in all her elegance graces the stage not only in song, but dance, very nice to see. She’s also the force that brings it all together. Suzanne Douglas (“Tap,” “How Stella Got Her Groove Back”), as beautiful as ever is powerful in her performance letting us all know that she’s the rock. The ever vivacious, and beautiful Vanessa Bell Calloway (“Lakeview Terrace”), has a strong character who knows she looks good, and struts her stuff in a strong, positive way. Ann Weldon (“I’m Through with White Girls”), the First Lady of the Church, is strong, funny and takes her hats seriously. She’s also the strength and the link to the past.
Sharon Catherine Blanks, is the beautiful, seductive sister, always out to prove some kind of point, and belts out some powerful messages. Angela Wildflower Polk is the young sister who, after a tragic incident is sent down South to learn more about who she is and the powerful legacy left for her to carry on.
And then there’s “the man” played by the one of the stages’ most powerful performers Clinton Derricks-Carroll (“Introducing Dorothy Dandridge”). He wears a variety of hats, from preacher man to husband and father; his melodic voice adds just the right touch to this powerful musical.
The ERT is a newly formed Equity Company and the Resident Company and Operator of the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center located on Washington Boulevard under the leadership of Founder/Producer Wren T. Brown and Artistic Director, and “Crowns” director Israel Hicks.
The Ebony Repertory Theatre also presents a Speaker’s Series and a variety of other events. ERT’s commitment is to bring diverse, high standard, professional performing arts to the Mid-City community as well as the greater Los Angeles area.
“Crowns” is a perfect example of that commitment. Don’t miss it.
“Crowns” runs from now until June 14 at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center. For ticket information call 323.964.9766 or click on www.ebonyrep.org for more information.
– Gail Choice can be contacted at email@example.com.