‘Bubbling Brown Sugar’

I missed the splendor of Bubbling Brown Sugar in its opening glory Friday, but the second night was no second-rate show. Savvy was the $5 price tag, which enticed many students to attend. Several stated that they wouldn’t have shelled out $30 (the opening-night price) for anything, much less a student production.

The ambience in the Assembly Center was decidedly romantic and upbeat. Distinguished looking elderly ladies slumped purses over their shoulders. Older men had women with updated fee sheets smilingly escort them to their seats.

The attire was part black-and-white chic, part collegiate casual. Many remained in their clothes from the earlier Black & Gold football scrimmage. Light chatter echoed until President Horace A. Judson and Dr. K.D. Godwin delivered their thank-you speeches.

Prior to the show and during intermission, a silent auction showcased student work for sale as a scholarship opportunity. Of the submitted pieces, a stunning painting of Alicia Keys beckoned to my empty pockets. There were also a variety of coolly colored abstract pieces.

But that’s off the subject. Let’s get back to the musical.

The actual show began on schedule, if C.P. time is the norm. The performers graced the audience with admirable enthusiasm. Every performer did a commendable job, though some were far more distinct than others.

Spectators shouted, “Get it, Smiley,” (referring to Tichia Lincoln) as the Orchesis dancer and crowd favorite executed complicated choreography in stunning ensembles – most notably a red shimmying dress. Her character captured that overall feistiness many women are too afraid to display and many men too quiet to request.

Another standout performance came from Drew Smith, who interestingly enough played an Ivy League-educated White man attempting to be “down” by taking interest in the Renaissance. Between his energetic dance moves and Eurocentric over-articulation, Smith’s character was quite a hit.

Typically cast theatre faces, Deron James and Angela O’Leary, enthusiastically danced, sang and kept the other characters lively.

Though the show ran a little long, ending at nearly 9, it was worth every dollar spent and every eye fixated.

With Bubbling Brown Sugar being the first annual scholarship dinner theatre, I see a bright future for the students, the department and I invite everyone to support it next spring.