Publisher: Elizabeth Hurd

“The Amen Corner” Heart-Wrenching and Heart-Warming Jewel Box Production

TerJuana Brooks as Sister Moore (seated left) Norma Goff as Odessa (center) and Antisha Cole as Sister Boxer (right) discussing Church affairs. Photo courtesy of Derek Kenney

Jewel Box Theatre presents a heart-warming drama, “The Amen Corner” May 5 through 22, 2022,  Directed by LàCharles Purvey, the show has a cast of 13 dedicated actors.  The play by James Baldwin premiered in 1954 and examines the profound impact religion has on the African-American family.  The play centers around a minister of God, Sister Margaret Alexander.  She is the pastor of a church located just above her home in Harlem.  There is the usual underlying political undercurrent that often occurs in any group.

Sister Margaret is a single mom of David, a God-fearing Christian and joy to his mother. Not only is David the ideal loving son, but he also plays the piano for the congregation.  Living with them is Sister Margaret’s elder sister, the loyal Odessa.

There are frequent visitors as their home is so close to the church.  Sister Boxer is a frequent guest and always accompanied by her husband, Brother Boxer.  Also Sister Moore, a prideful spinster, is often there to express her devotion to Jesus.  There is camaraderie and excitement as members embrace religion with animation.  The belief that one’s acceptance of Jesus provides the answer to every problem is quite paramount. 

The congregation also includes Sister Sally, Sister Douglas, Sister Rice and Brother Washington.  They  provide a heartfelt choir during every service.  A new attendee arrives, Ida Jackson, babe in arms.  She is requesting prayers for her child who seems to be quite ill.  Turning to Jesus may be the answer, but Sister Jackson needs more…she needs action and results. 

Mikael Dashawn as David (seated at foot of bed) confronts father, Luke played by Terrell Brooks. Photo courtesy of Derek Kenney

Also, showing up out of the blue is Luke.  Luke is the former husband of Sister Margaret and father to David.  The estrangement between Sister Margaret and Luke is so long that David has no memory of his father.  Instead he remembers wondering why his father left. Now, he unexpectedly returns, ill and alone.  David is unsure about accepting him at this stage, but he is very interested in his father’s career as a musician.  David’s musicality extends beyond playing the piano every Sunday morning.  Sister Margaret is oblivious regarding David’s musical aspirations.

The cast of “The Amen Corner” reveals a congregation excited about Christianity enhanced by the casts excitement about the play.  Purvey is a director quick to capitalize on the spiritedness of the cast and the result is a show that hits home for the audience.  This cast has captured the importance of church in the African American community that has always been an important component of worship with the result that every performer becomes a star as every worshiper is beloved by God.

LaTasha Featherstone as Sister Margaret leads her congregation in prayer. Photo courtesy of Derek Kenney

Sister Margaret is played by LaTasha Featherstone.  Her character has developed beautifully and realistically.  Leading the cast in presenting her devotion Featherstone shows us an actress of vulnerability along with her skill.  Her son, David, is played by Mikael Dashawn.  Dashawn not only develops an excellent personality in the role but he is lending his theatrical experience in assisting Purvey with direction.  Norma Goff is a superb Odessa, a more grounded Christian who has been with her sister, Margaret for a lifetime with loyalty and support.  Sister Boxer is Antisha Cole and Reginality Stafford is devoted husband Brother Boxer.  These two have great chemistry revealing shallow characters with depth and s slight underhandedness.  Cole also has great vocals, and Stafford creates his own originality.  Sister Moore  is TerJuana Brooks, a woman with an abundant pride in her purity.  Luke is played expertly by Terrell Brooks lending a very authentic tone to the production.  Young mother, Ida Jackson is warmly played by Julia Watts.

In addition to these major cast members in the play, the congregation includes LaCoya Smith (Sister Sally) Janet King (Sister Douglas) Sister Rice (Teresa Daniel) Brother Davis and David’s understudy (Darian Featherstone) and Brother Washington (Alan D. Cole)  These actors prove the adage that there are no small parts.  As a group they are cohesive, and vitally important to the development of the overall production. 

Prior to arrival of Luke Cast of “The Amen Corner” at worship. Photo courtesy of Derek Kenney

LàCharles Purvey is a director of great sensitivity, and the quality can be seen in this cast.  While the timing tends to be a little show in places that should soon smooth out during the show’s run.  More importantly, It is refreshing to see a production where the actors are so invested in their characters, making the story universally relatable as well as entertaining despite the inherent tragedy of the play. 

Julia Watts as Ida Jackson comforts her babe in “The Amen Corner” Photo courtesy of Derek Kenney

“The Amen Corner” runs May 5 through May 22, 2022 with an 8:00 PM curtain time Thursday through Saturday.  Additionally there is a Sunday 2:30 PM matinee.  For information and tickets visit www.jewelbox.okc or call 405-521-1786.  “The Amen Corner” is a sparkling addition to the 64th season of Jewel Box taking full advantage of the convenience in their new location at Disciples First Christian Church.  The address is 321 NW 36th St. in Oklahoma City.

 

 

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