I’m going start this off by saying this is the best show I’ve ever seen. In any capacity, this is the best show I’ve ever seen and I was blessed to see this show. This is deeper than Phantom or Macbeth for me. This, is the reality of so many people in the world today. There wasn’t any acting happening on stage. This is raw truthful and passionate. It is beautiful.
I don’t think any show will ever have as much of an impact on me than this did. To know these are the words of Tupac Shakur is mind blowing. Every single word in the show is masterfully crafted and to think it came from a young man in his 20s is incredible. It shows me that I can do so much because he wasn’t even 25 when he died. 25 years old and put his soul into his work. The poetry that was once in hip hop has been completely lost.
The writing in this show is August Wilson, Shakespeare level writing. It is BRILLIANT. That’s the only word I to really describe this show. I really can’t wrap my mind around how someone so young was just genius in every way. But beyond that how Todd Kreidler went about weaving these beautiful words into a story that many will relate to. I know the characters in this show, these personalities are real. They are honest and just indescribable.
I’m thankful to Kenny Leon who brought this show to Broadway years ago, and said that he knew if this show went anywhere else it was going to be Atlanta. I had the privilege to speak to him a little bit and I asked how he approached this production, he said he approaches new. Like every other production, it’s new. I saw it like this, every time there are new brushes (actors) painting with the same colors (same material) to create a totally different show.
On top of all that you add JARED GRIMES to the mix as choreographer. Jared is one of the top tap dancers in the game right now. He comes from an era where tap dancers were IT. They were publicly displayed and seen all the time by people everywhere. I believe that he should be the one to bring that back to the forefront. I’m obviously a fan so when I found out he was choreographing I lost it.
I just want to give the biggest shout out to this incredible ensemble! Read their bios, any member of this ensemble could be a lead in this show and I think that really brings power to this show. this is the most gifted, dare I say over qualified ensemble I’ve ever seen. The casting for this show was immaculate because this cast is PERFECT. I love it so much. In a talk back one of the ensemble members, Hollywood, said they just aren’t acting. It’s real, the joy, the community, the tragedy, it’s all real. As someone raised in the black community I can say that’s 100% true. A show’s ensemble is its heart and you’re only as strong as your heart. This heart is pumping the strongest out of any show out right now! This ensemble is insane and they are the show.
I can’t just stop talking about this ensemble. I’m putting my playbill from this show on my wall because they gave performances I’ll never forget it. It felt like home, I knew the people on stage. I felt like “I’d go to school with this person, we grew up together” it was all so familiar to me. The dancing, the singing, the spoken word, all of it is incredible. Really go read the bios of this cast it’s insane the work they’ve done. From choreographers, to recording artist, to backup dancers for the biggest stars on the planet, to Atlanta’s top actors. Diversity and Community, are two words that describe this show. They were intentional in their casting and everyone that got an offer to accept this show was meant to get one.
Holler If Ya Hear Me touched my heart in a way no other show really has. It’s deeper than seeing yourself on stage. It’s seeing the beauty of my community on stage. Seeing the beauty of something that’s not always shown. The love but also the tragedy, you know people that died from the violence and the only thing you can do is pray.
All these characters are real people in my life, I saw this character and went that’s the lady from the church or that’s the brother that gave me five bucks for every “A” on my report card. This is where real life is presented onstage, it’s rare and when it happens it’s like seeing a shooting star. Quick shouout to the dancers in the show! They handled their business on that stage, and didn’t overshadow each other. They shared their moments, instead of taking their time in the spotlight, they said we are the spotlight. And the women holding down the vocals!!!! Chani Maisonet, Brittany Inge, and Kennedy Blanchard held it down! I’ve seen these women in different shows, rehearsals, etc. but I’ve never appreciated them more than I do now thanks to this show. Now to the Breakdown!
Eddie Bradley Jr. as Street Preacher: If you look at his bio you’ll see how he was able to take this role and make it so powerful. This is one of those characters that challenges a lot of people because there’s a lot left unsaid so that when something big is said it’s powerful. There’s a lot internally that must be going on there but on top of that there’s purposeful movement. If I twitch or look this way it’s all has a purpose. He has mastered it. He is the last puzzle piece of the story and the biggest part of this “cycle”.
Rob Demery as John: John is the focal point of the story. His journey is the story and it’s a difficult one. I can’t even imagine how Rob went about tackling this role. This is a role that’s deep, the type of role you just live in. you accept the character, embrace it, then mold it to you. I couldn’t begin to tell you what’s John and what’s Rob. Tiny details like how he holds his hands or even looks at people all effect everything going on in the story. It’s brilliant to say the least. To dig this deep is something I can’t imagine doing.
Markelle Gay as Darius: I absolutely love this character and his arc. He’s the little brother that we all know. The “Monkey see, monkey do.” Type guy. He’s a victim of learned behavior and completely oblivious to his own thoughts. A “group thinker” if you will, he’s America today. He’s the kid you pray for because you know all it takes is one person to lead them the wrong way. The kid that you know sure enough you’ll either be sending him off to jail or at his funeral soon. He’s the guy that gets caught in “the cycle”. This show is a cycle basically, he’s the ending link/ beginning link. He’s how it starts for someone else and how it ends. Markelle played him truthfully and raw. That is what brings this character home for a lot of people.
Theresa Hightower as Mrs. Weston: I think her role is relevant with today. There is a power that a mother has that is unattainable. To see that power slowly drain into frustration, anger, and confusion but still see enough of it left to just push her son in the right way is powerful. A mother’s love is truly the thing that will save your life. That’s who this character is, she’s too stubborn to give up. She watched her “sons” die one by one, again and again. But still fights. There’s so much to be said about that type of resilience.
Wonza Johnson as Anthony: The genius in the writing of the show is the “cycle” and the types of people in it. Anthony is the kid with potential. Anthony is the one that tries to run with the older guys and they tell him to go home. They know what that life is and that he has an opportunity to get out. They will do everything in their power to see it through. They’ll pay for books, meals, clothes anything to make sure that he’s taken care of.
The line drawn to him and Markelle’s character Darius is beautiful. It’s what happens when the leader follows the follower, it’s backwards and fails. That failure could be someone’s life though. To boldly highlight this character journey in this way is raw. That’s why he is my favorite character because down to the last moments of the show, you’re rooting for him. “Make something of yourself and do something” down to the last scene. Wonza told his story beautifully.
Rob Lawhon as Griffy: I love his perspective of being on the outside looking in. that’s a reality today in America. You’re watching these tragedies take place but they don’t matter until they hit home. Till they hit you. It’s looking but not seeing, blindly stuck on autopilot. Until something shakes you out of it and you have no idea what to do. Many of my friends won’t get this show because they have the same perspective. I think it’s important for this story to be in this show and Rob’s portrayal was just perfect and real.
Durell Lyons as Nunn: This character reminds me a lot of my grandfather. He’s the wise brother that’s been everywhere and seen everything. He will do whatever it takes to stay out of trouble and to keep you out of it too. He’s that parent friend. The one that will call you out at any time because you both know he’s right. I appreciate this character for what he is. He’s hope, the light in the darkness but the guy often in the background helping. Helping without the recognition and simply for the people. He’s a man you respect no matter what. Shoutout to Durell for the greek love he shows during “California Love” I peeped his shoutout to the brothers of Phi Beta Sigma inc.
Garrett Turner as Vertus: This is the second time I’ve seen him in a role Chris Jackson originated. I’m just saying I see Hamilton or even Lion King next for this guy. It’s almost impossible to not feel vertus’ struggles. I think Garrett shines a light on this in the tiniest ways that build up throughout the show. Not mourning but pushing it down, moving on. Constantly moving, the arc is always moving. But when it stops when there’s a pause on everything that’s when you hit the meat. The meat of your character where you can get in as deep as you want to. Garrett found that sweet spot and lives in it.
- Woods as Corinne: There’s strength in a black woman that’s often not shown or portrayed in the arts but she brought it all. She brought power, grace and a fire that I’ve only ever seen brought about by the works of actors like Viola Davis. it was straight no chaser. Real from the top of the show to the end of it. She is what we should see in the media every day. She’s loyal and never for a moment did I believe she was anything but that. She doesn’t just play this role but she lives it.
See this show while you can, it closes October 8, 2017 at the Southwest arts center. I obviously love it and you will too. You can find out more and get ticket info at http://truecolorstheatre.org/