TV actress pens gospel musical

Cast of the gospel musical Crowns
photo: Sacred Space for the City

Playing at the Darkhorse Theatre for five shows only, Crowns, a gospel musical by Regina Taylor (star of TV’s I’ll Fly Away) is a moving and celebratory toe-tapping play in which hats (that’s right, I said ‘hats’) become a springboard for an exploration of Black history and identity.

When Yolanda is sent down South after the death of her brother, she finds strength in the tales of the wise women who surround her—and the powerful rituals connected to their dazzling hats. Hats are everywhere, in exquisite variety, and the characters use the hats to tell tales concerning everything from the etiquette of hats to their historical and contemporary social functioning. There is a hat for every occasion, from flirting to churchgoing to funerals to baptisms, and the tradition of hats is traced back to African rituals and slavery and forward to the New Testament and current fashion.

Mother Shaw, Yolonda’s grandmother, welcomes her granddaughter into a circle of women (Wanda, Jeanette, Velma and Mabel) and a Man who takes many roles. These characters help Yolonda begin linking her own experiences to the stories of her relatives, her history and her people.

Crowns weaves together a variety of stories from different characters, time periods and perspectives that, when integrated with music and dance, create a tapestry of voices that transcend time and place. The play is adapted from a book by Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry.

This jubilant musical traces the roots of gospel through contemporary hip-hop, fusing rich storytelling with abundant ‘hattitude’ into a stirring coming-of-age tale. Crowns is a not-to-be-missed celebration of song, dance, cultural history—and glamorous headwear.

With an impressive body of work that encompasses film, television, theatre and writing, Regina Taylor’s career continues to evolve with exciting and challenging projects. Taylor is best known to television audiences for her role as Lilly Harper in the series I’ll Fly Away. She received many accolades for her performance in the show including winning a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a TV Series; an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series; and two Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Taylor was most recently seen starring in the CBS hit drama The Unit. She took home the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama for her work on the show.

Taylor’s critically acclaimed Crowns continues to be one of the most performed musicals in the country. It is the winner of four Washington D.C. Helen Hayes awards including Taylor’s win for Best Direction as well as Best Regional Musical.

Crowns is presented by SistaStyle Productions at the Darkhorse Theatre, 4610 Charlotte Ave. Tickets are $12. Show times are: Friday, May 17, 8 pm; Saturday, May 18, 8 pm; Sunday, May 19, 6 pm; Wednesday, May 22, 8 pm; Thursday, May 23, 8 pm.

For reservations, call 615-476-6430, or visit www.sistastyle.net

Cheatham County Theatre holding auditions for Annie Get Your Gun

Auditions for the beloved classic musical Annie Get Your Gun will be held on Saturday, May 11 from 9 am to 1 pm at Pegram Church of Christ, located at 5019 Walkup Rd., Pegram, Tenn. There are several roles available for adults, teens and children ages eight and up.

In this beloved classic, Annie Oakley (the best shot around) is persuaded to join the Wild West Show as a novel sharpshooter. She falls head over heels for the show’s headliner, the debonair shooting ace Frank Butler. Annie soon eclipses Butler as the main attraction, bruising his male ego and jeopardizing their romance. Ultimately he’s pitted against Annie in a final shoot-out. The show features toe-tappin’ ditties such as ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business’ and ‘Anything You Can Do’ that hearken a romanticized period in America’s history.

Bring a headshot of yourself, if possible, and be prepared to sing a musical number and do some script reading. A list of characters is available on the CCCT website at www.cheathamtheater.org The play will be produced in late July.

Don’t want to act? There are always other ways to be involved, including: sets, costumes, stage-managing, ticket sales, hospitality and more. Now is your chance to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience! For more information, or if you have scheduling conflicts for the auditions, e-mail cheathamtheater@gmail.com; visit the official CCCT website at www.cheathamtheater.org or call the CCCT hotline at 615-259-2001.