John Beasley, For Colored Girls at JBT

Add John Beasley to the list of For Colored Girls fans who didn’t find Tyler Perry’s film version as satisfying as the play his theater presents again this weekend. He reminisced recently about its debut here in 2003, with a cast that included Pasionetta Prince, later victim of a killer who was finally convicted and sentenced in November. The criticism of director-producer Perry began when it was first reported that he’d do the movie of the poetic play whose full title is For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf. It started with the general attitude of some African-Americans toward a man they’ve labeled “the king of coonery,” for his more popular creations. Perry cast the likes of Janet Jackson and Phylicia Rashad, expanding the play’s cast of seven in multiple roles to 20, one for each of the “poems” that comprise a compelling view of the treatment of black women’s experience in America. For Beasley, the film didn’t match his appreciation of the original play by Nzotake Shange. He told a service club luncheon about a reunion of the first Beasley cast, minus the fondly remembered Ms. Prince. The occasion provided an “I love you” exchange with an actress who had been a difficult diva in the earlier production, one who had some trouble getting off the ground, then became a moving and memorable drama. The new play, directed by Tyrone Beasley, promises more raw and tender insights. It opens Friday at the John Beasley Theater at 30th and Q and continues through Dec. 19, and Jan. 6-16, with Thurs.-Sat. performances at 7:30 p.m., Sun. at 3 p.m. Tickets are $22-$27, with $16 seats on Thursdays. John also shared some stories about his late-starting acting career that has included such films as Rudy and The Apostle, plus the television series “Everwood,” along with his honored performances in such August Wilson plays as Jitney. He smiled about his recent competition for an acting job in Los Angeles. When he left with a positive feeling after his audition, it caused some concern when he saw a somewhat worrisome contender, the actor we’ve all seen in those AFLAC commercials, looking warily at that noisy duck. Turns out neither he nor Beasley landed the job. John was still shaking his head over news that it went to Richard Roundtree, best known for playing Shaft long ago. John had better luck when he landed a spot on ABC’s “Detroit 1-8-7”. Cold Cream looks at theater in the metro area. Email information to coldcream@thereader.com.

posted at 11:45 am
on Wednesday, December 08th, 2010

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