The National Black Theatre Festival Was Wonderful
When my mom and I got on the plane at La Guardia Airport, I was very excited. Waiting in the airport for the flight, there were a lot of celebrities going to the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, North Carolina that I already knew. Barbara Montgomery kissed me on the cheek, said “hello,” and gave me a hug. We also saw Mr. Woodie King, Jr., Rome Neal, and Andre De Shields. Ralph Carter hugged me and introduced to his mother. We saw the cast of American Menu and we told them how great their show was.
On the plane ride down, I played my Gameboy Advance. When we arrived in Greensboro, North Carolina, I was very happy to be back- I had gone with my mom two years ago to the festival.
From the airport a van took us to Winston-Salem, North Carolina and we went to our hotel room, which was very pretty. In the lobby of the Adam Mark Hotel, where a lot of festival activities occurred. I was very excited when I saw Janet Hubert, the mom from Fresh Prince of Bel Air. When I said “hello” to her, she gave me a hug and we took a picture together. Actress Ebony Joann said “hello” and gave me a big hug; so did Lillias White.
That night, my mom and I went to the awards dinner. It was very nice. Then we went to see Lillias White in her opening night show, From Brooklyn to Broadway II. White was excellent. She really knows how to work her magic onstage.
The next day actress Edithe Jason said “hello” to me and shook my hand. Garland Lee Thompson said “hi” and hugged me. My mom and I went to see two plays in the afternoon. Hillary & Monica is an extremely funny show. The women that play Hillary [Heidi J. Dallin] & Monica [Jacqueline Kristel] and the president’s secretary Betty [Marjorie Johnson], and the man who plays the president [Randall England] do a wonderful job. The man who plays the president also plays Sam, Hillary’s secret service agent. People really need to see this show.
Aunt Rudele’s Family Reunion was the next play. In that show a man [Nate Jacobs] plays a woman-Aunt Rudele and other characters. The show is about Aunt Rudele and her family going on a picnic for their family reunion and her talking about everybody. It was a very funny show. There were certain parts that a child my age shouldn’t have seen, but it was very entertaining.
That night, we saw a play about Louis Armstrong called A Tuff Shuffle: Backstage with Louis Armstrong. The man that played him [Danny Mullen] did a very good job. He sounded like Mr. Armstrong and he reminded me of him. The actor talked about everything that happened in Mr. Armstrong’s life. When he ate gumbo in front of the audience, said he was going to the bathroom and at intermission he was going to take a shower, it was like you were in the house really talking with Mr. Armstrong.
Rome Neal did a great job in Monk as Monk. He plays other characters also. He talks about everything that happened to Monk when he was a kid and when he was growing up.
The next day we saw Miss Evers’ Boys, a very serious drama. This show is about a disease called syphilis that kills people. Doctors have a cure called penicillin. But they won’t give the sick men the cure. They will study the men as they let them die. Nurse Evers is taking care of the sick men and tells the story from her point of view. She didn’t want to do it, but she had no choice. She had to follow the doctors’ orders.
Barefoot in the Park is very funny. It’s about a couple married for six days who move into a run-down apartment, and that’s where the laughs begin. The man that plays the husband Paul [Tony Grant] does a very good job. His singing is wonderful. Kim Fields plays Corie his wife. She does a great job. Ella Joyce plays her mother and does a wonderful job also. People really need to see this show.
Kids from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, did a show called Home & Hood. It was part of the Celebrity Youth Project. Home & ‘Hood was a very entertaining show. Sixteen kids were rapping, dancing and some were singing about life in the ‘Hood.
The Piano Lesson was very nice. Some of the play was funny, some very serious and some spiritual. It was about a brother and sister arguing over selling a piano. The piano had to stay in the sister’s house because a ghost would not let it go. The piano had been in this family since slavery and connected with the souls of their ancestors.
These are some of the plays I saw with my mom.
Going to the 2003 National Black Theatre Festival was an extraordinary experience.