Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Singin' and Shoutin'," the Everyman Street Theater's 1978 production that opened Wednesday night at 14th and T Streets NW, refreshingly transforms several Old Testament stories into snappily irreverent and outrageously funny moments.
Based on Mare Connelly's 1930 Pulitzer Prize winning play. "The Green Pastures," this musical takes an already humorous - but reverent - play and stretches its perimeters just enough to make it contemporary and fashionably mocking.
However, the basic intent of the original is not lost. The black preacher is still a folksy character, who dramatizes the evils of the world with rich imagery and admonishes his flock to keep to the straight and narrow. Cain is belligerent after slaying Abel. The villagers make fun of Noah.
Many of the great episodes of the Old Testament are put in music, dance and talk - and almost always with a modern twist.
When the preacher, who is an anthropomorphic God (called "De Lawd" in the original), warns Adam and Eve to avoid a "certain tree, one they know," a group of tempters and temptresses holding apples undulates onstage to a slivering and funky melody.
After yielding to temptation, Eve cries out, "The Devil made me do it, Lord," reference to comedian Flip Wilson's line.
"I like this kind of music," said a man in the crowd.
At about the same time a wino was making his way toward center stage for the umpteenth time but was angrily chased away by a large woman.
The crowd of about 300, many from the neighborhood, stood and watched intently. An icecream truck did brisk business. A man rolled a marijuana cigarette and held it unlit while focusing on the production.
Several onlookers watched from high in trees or out of apartment windows. Others ate watermelon between looks.
Except for occasional slow pacing during speaking parts, the production moved along sprightly. Co-director Kenneth Daugherty captured the high humor and mock solemnity of the old "De Lawd." Soprano Julia McGuirt was stunning in the pieces she sang. Also outstanding were the dance team of Terry Sands and Francois Dion Davis, who portrayed Adam and Eve.
The production was adapted, directed and choreographed by Mike Malone, former artistic director at the Ellington School of Arts and now director of theater at Karamu House Theater in Cleveland. The cast which had two weeks of rehearsal, is made up of current and former students at the Ellington School.
The musical will be presented tonight at 6:30 at South Capitol and Livingston Streets SE.
It will be presented for the rest of August at 14 other locations in the District and close at Lincoln Center in New York on Sept. 2. Additional information on the District locations may be obtained from 282-0123 or 676-6518.