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National Black Theatre returns for another ‘marvtastic’ festival

National Black Theatre returns for another ‘marvtastic’ festival
July 29
14:25 2022

By Judie Holcomb-Pack

One of the most anticipated events held in Winston-Salem is returning Aug. 1-6, after having to cancel the 2021 festival due to the pandemic. The National Black Theatre Festival will again bring some of the best national Black theatre companies to Winston-Salem for six days of performances that will rival those seen on Broadway. 

This year over 100 performances will be held at venues around Winston-Salem and several of these productions will be especially appealing to seniors. Highlighted below are just a few; for the complete schedule, visit www.nbtf.org. Most performances are at 2 and 8 p.m. Ticket prices range from $10 – $50..

MUSICALS:

*Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill. This drama with music examines and explores the life of legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday during one of her last performances in 1959, four months before her death at age 44.

*Natural Woman:An Aretha Story. A theatrical tribute to the legendary Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, as never told before. Experience her iconic songs all over again.

*The Eve of Jackie. This production marks the 20th anniversary and last performance of Chester Gregory as the legendary Jackie Wilson in one of the festival’s favorites. This is an intimate look at “Mr. Excitement” live in concert right before his on-stage collapse.

*The Soul Crooners featuring Sistas in the Name of Soul. A celebration of the music that ushered in the eve of soul during the 1970s. You will enjoy all of your favorite hits by an outstanding ensemble.

HISTORY:

*Cowboy. A popular play at the 2019 festival, Cowboy is returning to the stage. The powerful story of Bass Reeves, a freed slave who protected the Wild West as the first African American United States Deputy Marshal.

*Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Set in a recording studio in the 1920s Chicago, this play deals with issues of race, art, religion and the historic exploitation of Black recording artists by white producers.

*Blood Done Sign My Name. When three white men are acquitted of the murder of a young Black Army veteran by an all-white jury, despite testimony by two Black eyewitnesses, Oxford, N.C. is thrown into a season of violent reprisals in the spring of 1970.

*Frederick Douglass, No Turning Back. Set in 1872 in an anti-slavery church in Ohio, this tour de force performance reveals one of our greatest American heroes who became an electrifying orator.

*Sojourner. In telling the story of her enslavement in the North, as well as her dramatic escape and subsequent fight to tear down slavery, Sojourner provides a compelling and persona lens into pre-Civil War America.

Note: Frederick Douglass and Sojourner are joint productions, two for the price of one.

DRAMA:

*Freedom Summer. August 4, 1964. Nora has started a new life “passing” as a white woman, while her sister, Carrie, prepares to travel to the Deep South and register Blacks to vote. Three bodies of slain civil rights workers have just been found in Mississippi, leading the sisters to question the price of civil rights.

HUMOR:

* Michael Colyar’s Momma. A dramatic one-man stage play that follows the hilarious and up- and-down life of comedian Michael Colyar.

*The Dance on Widow’s Row. Set in a coastal community in Port Town, N.C., this romantic comedy centers around four widows who defy small town mores and vicious gossip by hosting a gathering with the town’s most eligible gentlemen.

TAKE THE GRANDKIDS:

*Let My People Go! A Dance Adaptation of The Prince of Egypt. An all-dance interpretation of the Dreamworks movie “The Prince of Egypt.” The story of the Book of Exodus follows the life of Moses from being a prince of Egypt to his destiny to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt.

*Storytelling Festival, Stories for Young People. Storytellers from across North Carolina skillfully weave tales of cultural history, fiction, humor and lessons through this age-old tradition.

*National Youth Talent Showcase. The next generation of successful Black entertainers takes center stage. Youths from across the country showcase their talents before a panel of celebrity judges.

With so many superb options to choose from, it will be hard to decide which ones to attend. Tickets can be purchased online at www.nbtf.org or at the N.C. Black Rep box office at 419 N. Spruce Street. During the week of the festival, tickets can be purchased at the Benton Convention Center.

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