Play instills Black pride

Plays cost one smackaroo last year. Friday, Crowns cost two. So, my expectations increased with the price. Once I recovered, I was handed a program and settled with my girls into the front row of the half full theater. The crowd whispered anxiously. Lights dimmed gradually.

What followed intrigued.

An introductory church scene put us at home, as the Regina Taylor production played heavily upon themes of unified Blackness. African ancestry and our descent from royalty and modern day (mis)interpretations of the former and latter were the show’s brain food of choice.

This was definitely a “Say it Loud.” play, as a church going character stated “All God’s children have crowns.”

Although rooted in the relevance of lineage, the show ran a little long. Pride will suffice for a scene or two, but several of the scenes could have easily been condensed to nonexistent.

Some of the perpetuated ideals furrowed my brow in amusement. In the midst of all the God gab, the audience was told that women hid their bodies to show respect to a Higher Power. This cast must have been uber respectful with hoity toity shoes clicking across stage and concealing dresses.

On the flip side, we learned that the same church women use hats as devices of flirtation. We were told that the pep in a hat wearer’s step is called “hatitude”.

Tip to that.

While the cast was all-star worthy, some people’s light shined more vividly than others. Angela O’Leary was among the most vibrant. Her portrayal of a troubled Brooklynite’s journey to Christ was endearing, particularly with authentic east coast swagger and an accompanying accent.

I totally wanted to dap her, assuming that New Yorkers dap anymore.

Backup spiritual dancer slash mime Ty Malone’s body highlighted the words left unsaid. He illustrated the beauty in spirituality and moved with effervescent fluidity. My eyes drifted frequently from monologues and jumpin’ and jivin’ to settle on his Mohawk and face paint.

Vocalist Na’Toya Stone’s chill inducing performance warmed my spirit. Of all the performers, she took the stage with the most audience praise and poise. “Sang Toya” reverberated in the space. And sang, she did.

My favorite character was Harold Trotter’s Minister I. The ever-upstaging character was mischievous and excited. His rhythmic saunter stole many a scene before the cast wrapped the show up with a final set that paralleled the first.

I found two students who also felt their $2 investment in the arts was worthwhile.

Senior Jahean Brown also enjoyed the show. “It was great. I liked the church atmosphere.It’s (all) about the hats.All the women in my church wear hats.”

Freshman Michelle Prospere “really enjoyed” the show.

“I felt the connection between hats and our culture. I never really realized the significance.