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Boys to Baghdad: A Brand New Sheriff Production

Boys to Baghdad opened up the stage this past weekend at the Duke Energy Theater, beginning on July 15, 2016 in Charlotte, NC.

The fact remains that many children go into the military searching for themselves—Boys, especially, want to make their parents proud. Others join just to pay their college tuition's, while dismissing the concept of fighting in the war altogether.

Those are a few of the things that Boys to Baghdad shows us aside from gullible mindsets, the difference between cultures, religion and race, in addition to how strangers become family due to the transfixing connection of war.

This dramatic tale is like no other—it’s someone’s truth from the enemy lines, a testament from boys enlisting into the army and coming out as aged, and often times, troubled young men.

Author and Playwright, Rory Sheriff served in Desert Storm during the late 80’s and early 90’s. He experienced the good vibrations of war as well as the horrific aspects of it.

With Boys to Baghdad, Sheriff was able to paint us an uncensored portrait of how he, and a band of soldiers endured through the years while serving.

Surviving wasn’t just dodging bullets or bombs that crept into the stiff and indecisive night air. It was survival of the mind and spirit; the soul of a man coming home from war as a whole individual, instead of mangled and broken pieces.

Sheriff took several years of his life and placed them into two hours of emotional and entertaining content.

The first scene opens up with a young Huey (played by Sultan OmarEl-Amin) at home with his mother (played by Sharlata ShinningShar Marlin), and Uncle Lenny (played by Comedian Darren DS Sanders)—they have a conversation in the kitchen that’s reminiscent of the way it was back in the 80’s when parents spent more time interacting with their kids, before the takeover of cell phones and internet.

Later, Huey is seen with his high school girlfriend, Tiffany (played by Kerra Don). The two smooched and made out under a lamplight, while sitting on a bench. She lets him know that he is her first love as well as her first kiss. (We) The audience learns during that giddy moment of teenage benevolence, Huey hates saying goodbye, so he insists on saying, “See you later,” when he and Tiffany part ways.

From that time on the bench, we could see Huey transforming right before our eyes.

He decided to enlist in the military, leaving behind his friends and family—in his opinion, it’s the only way that he can make a man of himself. So, before he takes off, he introduces his girlfriend to his parents/caregivers, because that was the normal thing to do back then…

A horn blowing in the background, indicates that it’s time for Huey to leave, and then the scene closes out.

During another portion of the show, after Huey makes it to the military, the act opens up with Drill Sergeant, Wilson (played by Humorist Rae Styles), barking orders into a room full of cadets (soldiers played by Rasheed Owens, Alex Lee Mauny, Danius Jones, Jonathon Caldwell, Darius Johnson, Hafiz Stokes, and Jermaine Gamble).

He was as rowdy as Louis Gossett Jr., in an “Officer and a Gentleman,” and just as hateful as the drill sergeant in “Full Metal Jacket.” Sargent Wilson was by far the most captivating character, simply because he was complacently believable.

Once the Drill Sargent leaves, the army cadets interact and get to know one another… One trainee, Pough (played by Alex Lee Mauny), is overzealous and slightly racist—he knows all the drills and even brags about being upper echelon a time or two. His behavior adds unnecessary discomfort and agitation-- the squad members don’t like him at all. However, they learn to love him like a brother towards the end of the show.

Alex Lee Mauney(Paugh) is standing

The men go through several more infractions before they are shipped off, and by this time, they have surely grown into much wiser young men.

Hafiz Sotkes and Danius Jones

Now, without giving away every heartening detail of the play, it’s safe to say that Sheriff outdid himself with his latest production-- the entire cast as well as crew members stitched together an outstanding production.

Not only were (we) the audience members, educated on the realities of war—we were enriched by the emotions, letdowns, and losses that these men faced while serving their country. Everything changed for them, from typical conversations, and how they told time, to how they viewed each other, their relationships and the world.

It wasn’t always easy for this group, and it seemed more painful than a pleasurable experience, to fight for a cause that they did not understand, to look death straight in the eyes with an unmovable authority although they weren’t ready to die.

The production was riveting as well as inspiring, and as if that wasn't enough, Sheriff introduced his friends, the muses behind Boys to Baghdad at the end of the program.

The cast, including the original Boys to Baghdad

The faction withstood the military and Desert Storm together— it was only right that they flew from all parts of the world just to be there for Sheriffs opening weekend.

Through the army, the group of men learned the true meaning of bonding-- they also established a firm brotherhood.

Fact: The music and costumes were another translucent effect for the production. The authentic outfits, colors, long socks, and even the military uniforms fit seamlessly into the fads of the 80’s and 90’s, which was another great provenance that made this show an unyielding success.

Email: Brand New Sheriff Productions for the whereabouts of this outstanding play. Maybe you can get the cast to visit your city and state!

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