'Mama, I Want To Sing' - still fresh, still a blessing
LINDA ARMSTRONG Special to the AmNews | 6/22/2011, 5 p.m.
A few years ago, Vy Higginsen remounted a production of the original musical she and her husband, Ken Wydro, had written, "Mama, I Want To Sing," at the Dempsey Theater at 127 W. 127th St. The production was a blessing to experience.
The musical tells the story of Higginsen's real-life sister Doris Troy-here named Doris Winter. Higginsen and Wydro's young daughter, Ahmaya Knoelle Higginsen, played Doris, and at the time had a satisfactory voice but had difficulty hitting the high and varied notes that this character is expected to perform.
Well, the years that have passed have turned this diamond in the rough into a shining star. Her vocal instrument is nothing less than brilliant and delightful to hear. She truly lives up to the vocal abilities of the character that she is portraying, and the musical is now called "Mama, I Want To Sing: The Next Generation."
Higginsen is joined onstage by some fantastic singers, including Tyrone Flowers, who plays her father, Reverend Winter; Bettinah Pennon, who plays her mother, Mama Winter; Sandra Huff, who plays Sister Carrie, a close family friend and church soloist; and Elijah Lewis, who performs as the minister of music. In addition, you have the abundantly talented members of the Gospel for Teens choir.
This musical will take you to church, with great musical numbers of gospel songs, foot tapping, hand clapping and praise dancing moments, accompanied by humor and life lessons.
Higginsen narrates the story as a radio DJ telling her listeners about Doris Winter's life and musical career. We hear how Doris had the gift of singing at a young age-a gift that her father, a reverend in a Harlem church, recognized.
This production reminds you of what family and family values are all about. You can't help but be moved by the fact that Higginsen penned this musical as a tribute to the life and career of her sister, best known for her hit song "Just One Look." She cast her daughter in the lead role and her husband, in addition to co-writing the book with her, also serves as the director.
"Mama, I Want To Sing: The Next Generation" is presented by Higginsen's Mama Foundation For the Arts, whose mission is to present, preserve and promote gospel, jazz and R&B arts for current and future generations. It is a noble task that Higginsen has charged herself with and an immense blessing for those who can benefit from being a part of it and experiencing the extraordinary performances of these talented singers.
This musical plays on Saturdays at 1 and 4:30 p.m. through July 30. Go get your tickets today and be ready to be blessed. For more information, visit www.mamafoundation.org or call (212) 280-1045.