Photo Credits: Kenya Jones
It’s been eight days since the “Boys To Baghdad” stage play toured through Charlotte, NC, and it’s still on the tips of everyone’s tongue as enjoyable, delightful and outrageously hilarious.
The Award-winning production opened at the Duke Energy Theater last week (Spirit Square) and spanned from January 11, 2017 until January 21, 2017.
During the final evening of the play, the production was about 11 chairs away from selling out. More importantly, a multiplicity of cultures ranging from black, white, and even Asian people, occupied the remaining seats.
In honest truth, with all that’s transpiring around the world from disdain of denomination and origin, to the discussions of a cold war, and the aloofness of our POTUS, relatable entertainment is just what everyone needed to cool things down a bit, by allowing fellowship between unbiased people, right in our city of Charlotte.
Rory Sheriff, Award-Winning playwright, author, and director, assured the audience that this would be a production worth chatting about because it’s not only a good story, but it’s personal accounts from his life (“Operation Desert Storm").
The dramatic piece opened up with a youthful Huey, played by Jonathan Caldwell, who decided that he wanted to enlist into the Army right out of high-school.
Huey, then tells his mother, Lynne Shareef (played by Sonja Goodwin) and Uncle Lenny (played by Tim Bradley) about his decision.
They support him immensely.
Of course, Huey then breaks the news to his beautiful girlfriend, Tiffany Patterson, played by Omolade Way.
The two actually endure years together, while Huey continues his excursion in the Army, which shows the loyalty and love that the two characters share…
Ah, yeah, she waited for her man.
The audience travels through several Army tours, seamlessly, from scene to scene, with Huey maturing at each turn.
Huey seemed more standoffish than the other cadets, played by, Jermaine Gamble, Rasheed Owens, Hafiz Stokes, Alex Lee Mauney and Danius Jones, whom all had their issues, but they were more sympathetic to each other’s needs.
Huey eventually learns to relax and befriend his fellow comrades, although Pough (played by Mauney) has a hard time fitting in himself, due to race, and downright folly, that is until the hazing began in the middle of night when the Drill Sergeant (played by Rae Styles) was sound asleep.
After Pough gets beat down, for a lack of better words, the militia eventually begin to learn the indifferences of one another, and respect each other’s boundaries and beliefs, making them not only soldiers, but also a band of brothers.
Boys to Baghdad offered moments of laughter and solidarity, and in addition to candied affects, the props were reminiscent to the early 90’s when life was more colorful and less confusing.
Man, those were the good ole days!
The music selections complemented the ambiance for the production,
guaranteeing nostalgic recollections—audience members felt what the soldiers experienced during calm evenings inside their tents, wishing they were back home, away from the war.
Drill Seargent Wilson (played by Styles) demonstrated perfectly that he was either plum crazy, or just numb from the realities of the world, and you either did what he said, or everyone paid the consequences for one persons actions.
He used practices like an old-school parent, “either you tell me who did it, or everyone is going to get a butt whoopen.”
Snazzy costume of the evening would have to go to Uncle Lenny, who actually wore a pair of fancy parachute pants, and in another scene, an oversized clock that Flava Flave would relish with all of his heart.
The medal for comical relief goes to Bug/Dez Laury (played by Jones)… easily. His on-the- spot anticipation, facial expression, pounding heart and jello legs, gave the audience a sensation of urgency and nervousness. Clearly, Dez’s strong suit wasn’t—wayment, he didn’t have a strong suit, which was divinely hilarious.
When Mark Esposito (played by Stokes), delved into the Tango, the crowd roared with laughter.
Mrs. Peterson (played by Yvette Miller), performed the part of a prosperous woman, who only wanted the best for her daughter, but was willing to support any decisions that her child made.
Nevertheless, Boys to Baghad was a fabulous production.
The story line was intact, and the earthy life lessons were there. In two hours, you learned about racism, PTSD, the power of love, sensory, misinterpreted context, death and family—oh, how we learned about the importance of maintaining a bond, when there is no real reason to fight for one. When there isn’t a driving force, other than knowing that “this war-- we’re all fighting, and were all in it together."
Special acknowledgments go to actors with dual roles, Corey Dargon and Jermaine, Gamble—great job fellas!
A production can be well written, however it takes an amazing cast of people to bring that vision to life with plausible acting, and this group pulled it off without a hitch.
You did an amazing job, Rory Sheriff, as the entire production! Bravo, job well done!
The play will resume in Charleston, SC March of 2017 and Off-Broadway in May, 2017…
For more information, or if you’d like to donate/sponsor one of these productions, please visit www.BrandNewSheriff.com