When I heard that the Negro Ensemble Company was presenting a musical about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and doing it for two weekends only, I was excited to go on the opening weekend. However, once in the theater, I was disappointed.
This musical, with a book by Leslie Lee-who wrote the brilliant play “The First Breeze of Summer”-and music and lyrics by Charles Strouse-famous for musicals like “Bye Bye Birdie”-seemed more like a high school production than a professional piece of theater.
The piece explored King’s relationship with his parents and how he grew from being an emotional teen to someone who developed a strategy of nonviolence, but it was done in such a simplistic way that it screamed “High School Musical!”
However, the cast-which included Gilbert Glenn Brown as King, Dameka Hayes, Heather Massie, Kyle Minshew, Tony Perry, Raena White and Curtis Wiley-was talented, and they did the best they could with the material they were given.
This play ran through Oct. 30 at the Kraine Theatre on East 4th Street. In case you wanted to see a musical connected with Martin Luther King Jr., the play was nothing to write home about.