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'Through the Night' opens at off-Broadway home

Linda Armstrong | 4/12/2011, 5:29 p.m.
Sunday night was filled with excitement as "Through The Night," the one-man show written by...
Daniel Beaty in “Through the Night” (Sherry Rubel photo)

Sunday night was filled with excitement as "Through The Night," the one-man show written by and starring Daniel Beaty, with direction by Charles Randolph-Wright, officially opened at the Union Square Theatre on East 17th Street. Celebrities came out to support this amazing playwright/performer.

Beaty's production discusses some very serious issues in the Black community--diabetes, overeating, drug abuse, young men struggling to graduate high school, single mothers and the need for mentors for young Black males. The show also puts a spotlight on how a homosexual male deals with breaking the news of his preference to his religious family.

Beaty created a storyline that will have you captivated, and his brilliant performance will keep you riveted. He takes the audience on an emotional rollercoaster as he passionately delivers these characters--more than 10 of them, by the way--each with their own distinct posture, voice and attitude.

The characters include Eric (a 10-year-old boy), Mr. Rogers (his father and owner of the local health food store), Bishop (the local pastor), Isaac (his son and mentor to Twon), Twon (a young man graduating from high school and on his way to Morehouse College, Dre (a former drug addict and employee of Mr. Rogers) and Allen (Isaac's boyfriend). On the female side, there's Twon's mother, Ellen (the Bishop's wife); Kim (Dre's pregnant girlfriend); Keisha (Twon's girlfriend); and Sara (Mr. Rogers' wife and Eric's mother).

Beaty's play is an close-up, revealing look at the relationships that can exist between husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend and a mentor and a student. He looks at the turmoil people can go through mentally as they face the challenges that life has to offer. But he also drives home the point that whatever problems you are facing, always remember to face things positively, because our CHILDREN are watching. The show plays without an intermission and has a quick, smooth pace.

On the red carpet before the show were Ruby Dee, Malik Yoba and Pauletta Washington--the artistic ambassadors for the show who will help to spread the word. Other artistic ambassadors for the show include Bill Cosby, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Thelma Golden, Hill Harper, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Phylicia Rashad and Ben Vereen.

Dee was glad to explain that she first saw Daniel's talent when she saw him perform his first one-man show, "Emergence-See." She realized there was something special about him and wanted to do whatever she could to promote him. She then saw him in "Through the Night" at the Riverside Church, which is where it played prior to moving to its new home at the Union Square Theatre. Dee connected with the message behind the show and Beaty's extraordinary talent.

Other celebrities who came out to support Beaty were Danny Simmons, Maurice Hines, Lynn Whitfield, Kwame Jackson and Vy Higginsen.

Beaty's performance was so enthralling that the entire audience leapt to its feet and proceeded to engage in a standing ovation that lasted minutes. Beaty motioned thank you from the stage, but the applause continued. The applause was well earned. His performance was no less than amazing. You feel everything that his characters feel, and you learn lessons. It's a wonderful thing when you can experience that from a theatrical performance.

One of the people who also attended the opening was Daryl Roth, the main producer of the show. Roth shared that she was invited by the play's director, Charles Randolph-Wright, to see the play when it was at the Riverside Church. "I was touched by what I saw," Roth remarked.

The show has a program called "Shine the Light Project," an educational outreach program which helps youth to experience the show. Interested donors can sponsor student tickets. As funds are raised, student groups will be selected from schools, community organizations and clubs throughout the tri-state area. For information on how to donate or to nominate a group to be considered, visit ThroughTheNightOnStage.com and click on "Shine the Light Project."

To get ticket information, go to www.danielbeaty.com. You need to go and experience this powerful, moving and exquisitely performed piece of theater.