Pro2Play Production SanctifiedBy Mari Davis • Oct 28th, 2010 • Category: Reviews
A Pro2Play Production
Lincoln Theater, Washington, DC
Through November 14th
3:00 with one intermission
$37-$47 based on seats
Reviewed October 24th, 2010
Sanctified: to be set apart for a holy purpose; free from sin; set apart the soul.
Sanctified is a rollicking gospel musical that features soul, upbeat music and fabulous talent, including a performance by Lil Mo–a local radio personality and powerful singer–on the opening weekend, with other special guests the rest of the run. The cast and creative team have put together a wonderful show that the whole family can enjoy. Playwright Javon Johnson has created a terrific story that is reminiscent of Tyler Perry’s comedies, but with stronger religious overtones.
The East Piney Grove Baptist Church is in a rut of tradition when young pastor Harold P. Jones takes over. Eager to follow in the new trend of mega-churches across the nation, he prays for a revival in his congregation and brings in his highly-educated cousin for some musical redirection. Staunch members of the choir will have nothing to do with it, however, and Pastor Jones is challenged to reexamine his priorities and reevaluate the true meaning of being sanctified.
This professional production was well polished, except for sound. The sound needed better balancing, since the vocalists were consistently overwhelmed by the orchestra. The set remained the same throughout the majority of the show. Costume changes provided visual variety. Musically, the show was stellar. Excellent vocals coupled with a perfectly timed orchestral performance kept the show rocketing to its fabulous conclusion.
Every character was fantastically over-the-top and no holds were barred in the actors’ farcical performances. Mary Millben was a riot in her role as Sister Pauletta Denise Jones, the well-educated musical diva who is called in by Pastor Jones to work with the choir. Her characterization and vocal performances both felt as natural as breathing and were a delight to watch.
John McClure was very believable as the starry-eyed pastor with grandiose dreams for his flock. He was balanced by Bernardine Mitchell as the venerable Sarah, one of the oldest and arguably the wisest member of the congregation. Mitchell’s performance was the stable pin that held the highly energetic cast together.
Ellis Foster delivered another award-winning performance as Bobby, a developmentally disabled choir member who makes “joyful noise to the Lord,” whether others appreciate it or not. The rest of the wonderful cast rounded out the show contributing energy and excellent vocal performances in a variety of genres attributed to the black community.
Sanctified is a terrific production that touches on issues of the church, without beating you over the head with an agenda, and makes you laugh in the process. This production gets high marks in every area. If you are looking for an evening full of good, clean fun for the whole family, grab your nearest soul-brother or soul-sister and go see Sanctified!
A word about the venue: Lincoln Theater is located across the street from the U Street metro station off the Green and Yellow lines. If you are driving, be sure you plan for DC parking. Drinks and small snacks are available during intermission.
Photos by Stan Barouh.
- Pastor Harold P. Jones: John McClure, Jr.
- Old Man/Sir: William T. Newman, Jr.
- Boy/Mister: Joshua Nelson
- Bobby: Ellis Foster
- Thelma: Jessica Frances Dukes
- Clara: Almonica Caldwell
- Deacon: Frederick Strother
- Sarah: Bernardine Mitchell
- Jamal: Kasuan T. Wilson
- Monique: Ashley Jeudy
- Sister Pauletta Denise Jones: Mary Milben
- Pastor Harold P. Jones and Old Man/Sir: Dion L. Davis
- Bobby and Deacon: Charles Clyburn
- Thelma and Monique: Brandyn Ashley
- Clara and Sarah: Wyomme Pariss
- Sister Pauletta Denise Jones: Lorree K. Slye
- Brandyn Ashley, Aurie Ceylon, Dion Davis, Andrea Dumas, Wyomme Pariss, Victoria Purcell, Lorree K. Slye
- Musical Director and Keyboards: Raymond Reeder
- Assistant Musical Director, Rehearsal Pianist, Keyboards: William Hubbard
- Drums: Quincy Phillips
- Bass: Hamilton Hayes
- Guitar: Arnell Byrd
- Written by Javon Johnson
- Music by Rollo Dilworth
- Director: Derrick Sanders
- Musical Director: Raymond Reeder
- Lighting Design: William H. Grant, III
- Scenic Design: Tony Cisek
- Costume Design: Reggie Ray
- Sound Design: Elisheba Ittoop
- Properties: Marie Schnegenberger
- Wigmaster: Gregory Bazemore
- Production Stage Manager: Lloyd Davis, Jr.
- Assistant Stage Manger: Marne Anderson
Disclaimer: Pro2Play Production provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/5754.
Mari Davis is a student of Speech and Communication at Northern Virginia Community College. She has been involved in the performing arts since the age of five when she debuted as the Little Red Hen on an elementary school stage. Her career includes both national and international ensemble performances with semi-professional choirs, various roles in community and college musicals (both onstage and off), as well as co-directing drama camp for Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, VA.