BE A LION: A Brand New Sheriff Production
The Be a Lion stage play premiered for its third installment this past weekend at the Duke Energy Theater on Spirit Square in Charlotte, NC.
Rory Sheriff, Director and Screenwriter of Be a Lion, concluded that he was working on a rewrite for “Mahogany” and the Wiz came on television. He became so enamored with the production that he began watching it over and over again. Sheriff decided that instead of focusing on the Mahogany piece, he wanted to write a spin-off of the Wiz with a thought in mind: “What happens after Dorothy and her friends leave OZ?
Through rib-tickling dialogue, an unsullied cast, melodic ballads, daring and imaginative costumes (Davita Galloway), flamboyant artistry, as well as scenery—Sheriff was able to recreate the Wiz with a cultural and eccentric twist.
The first scene opens up with Dammesha (Melody Williams) enjoying a meal with her father… During a moment of bonding, Dammesha hurdles off a series of questions to her father, about her late mother (Eveline, the Wicked Witch).
Dammesha learns the tragic ending to her mom’s life and the role that her dad and his friends, Dorothy (Nailyah Gardner), the Lion (Chadwick Presley), Scarecrow (Gerald Hazelton), Tin -Man (Keon Taylor), and Miles the Mouse (Rasheed Owens), all played in it.
The once innocent Dammesha vows retribution for her mother’s death in a fit of entangled rage and transforms into a leviathan that was more sinister than Eveline.
She then goes after everyone that was responsible for Eveline’s demise.
The Lion (Chadwick Pressley) learns that it’s up to him to bring order back to OZ once he hears that Dammesha is after him and his friends.
So the Lion and Miles the Mouse set out on a journey to Emerald City and decide to recruit the Tin-Man and Scarecrow while on the way.
The pair gets sidetracked by a feisty lioness called LaDawn(Ruby Edwards).
LaDawn uses her Caribbean influences and sultry vocals to mystify the lion by way of true love.
The three then forge on to get the others, but Tin-Man and Scarecrow refuse to leave their complacent lifestyles…
Things to remember:
The musical scenes where the cast would’ve eased on down the yellow brick road was a hip and nostalgic tune reminiscent of Rolls Royce’s, “Car Wash.”
Though the Lion was the effortlessly comical attraction, his baritone vocals flowed smoothly against the jazz harmonies playing in the background. His steeping sound established a Motown vibe for the evening.
Dorothy’s character was more virtuous and optimistic even though she knew that this lackluster journey would result in some sort of trouble.
The Scarecrow was a quirky and harebrained character, which made for a few good laughs. His dance style was similar to Michael Jackson, including the coined knee drop in the televised episode of the Wiz.
Miss One (Chiletta Marie), the good witch, was full of wholesomeness and unpretentious character.
Miles, the sidekick, presented to be the conscious decision maker between himself and the Lion. If the Lion would’ve listened to him, they may not have gotten into as much mayhem.
The philandering Tin-Man stayed into character with robotic moves and amusing facial expressions throughout the show. He belted vocals in a more hip-hop fashion. This added diversity to the musical selections of the play.
Teenie (Tiffany Pratt) was a boisterous commodity. She was Tin-Man’s wife. The insisting Teenie just wouldn’t tolerate any of Tin-Mans scheming shenanigans. She seemed to be the dictator of the marriage.
This showcase wouldn’t have been complete without the exultant munchkins, who all dressed in regalia that was suggestive of characters from the “Ohmeis,” with a hint of urbanity.
The malicious flying crabs added balance to the play with their good vs evil tactics—and of course they were very evil. When the crabs all line up and get into “formation,” it was a no-brainier that trouble and destruction would soon follow behind them.
Be A Lion was a magnificent production with many depths of entertainment. Even the transitions between scenes ran efficiently without distraction. Given the structure of Duke Energy Theater, one could asses that there was a great deal of effort put into the play.
Just to be clear, the theatrical earned the rankings of a Broadway play when it hit Reading, Philadelphia over a year ago.
Sheriff continues to work consistently, while using originality as the premise for his writings and creations. He invented a production that catered to the millennials as well as the Generation X, which is difficult to do.
Sheriff turned his direction to Boys to Baghdad (a romance centered around Desert Storm)
The play is set to premier July 15 through July 16 at the Duke Energy Theater in Charlotte, NC.
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