The company of “Crowns.” Photo by Nate Jackson Photography.
“Crowns,” presented by 2nd Star Productions, is the story of a teenage girl who is sent to live with her grandmother in South Carolina after her brother is killed in Brooklyn. The lights are up and the setting is a church with hats everywhere. These hats are ready to tell their stories—from funny and flirty to funerals. These stories open Yolanda’s eyes and connect her to her roots, helping her to see a clearer future for herself. We hear a cappella singing, ending in a tone of dissonance which sets the story of triumph through resilience.
You do not want to miss this performance.
As Yolanda, Willow Star Singleton portrays the heartbroken and lost teenager who pours out her pain through her rap and hip-hop dance. At first, Yolanda wearing a red, baseball cap, rolls her eyes and seems annoyed as the women in Mother Shaw’s church tell stories of their lives through the hats that they wear. As the stories continue, she comes to realize they are part of her heritage, revealing the beauty of the human spirit.
The two-man band, led by Music Director LeVar Betts on keys and Virgil Boysaw III on drums, brought a sense of simplicity, yet produced the backbone of each story. Placed brilliantly on stage, the band acted as the church band.
Each actor in the cast does an exceptional job of bringing their distinctive personality to life through the layers and richness of the harmonies as they sing Gospel songs. Notably, Orega Okurume as Man, who opens the show with his powerful voice and portrays all of the men in each of the women’s lives. Wanda, played by Kyndall Rhaney, is another exceptional voice. But the true power really shines through when Yolanda sings her heart out in the closing songs and states, “The more I study Africa, the more I see that African Americans do very African things without knowing it, adorning the head is one of those things…whether it’s the intricate braids or the distinct hairstyles or the beautiful hats we wear on Sundays. We just know inside that we’re queens. And these are the crowns we wear.”
Speaking of crowns, both the hats and the costumes, assembled by Costume Designer Jeaneo Binney, were impressive—from a small, white fascinator hat adorning Mother Shaw’s head, to the oversized, blue skyscraper that Jeanette later wears. Hats are adorned not only on the heads of the women, but lined the walls and sides of the church set designed by the director and choreographer, Rikki Howie Lacewell.
The audience was filled with the spirit, some even shouting “Hallelujah” or “Amen” or quietly humming along to the hymns. You do not want to miss this performance. Although the run is sold out, limited tickets may still be available.
Running Time: Approximately 90 minutes with no intermission.
“Crowns” runs through February 25, 2003 at The Bowie Playhouse, 6500 White Marsh Park Drive, Bowie, MD 20715. For more information and tickets, call the Box Office at 410-757-5700, email firstname.lastname@example.org
This show is sold out, however, a limited number of walkup tickets may be available at the box office on a first-come first-served basis. COVID POLICIES: Audiences members must remain masked while in the Playhouse. Vaccination is strongly recommended.