The double-edged sword of righteousness is illuminated in a depiction of the power of faith in the Chattanooga Theatre Centre’s production of The Amen Corner, opening Friday, Dec. 6, and running through Sunday, Dec. 22.
Review for The Amen Corner:
To his first work for the theatre, James Baldwin, one of America’s preeminent African-American writers, brought all the fervor of the storefront churches of his childhood along with an unwavering awareness of the price those churches exacted from their worshipers.
As the story goes, Sister Margaret Alexander, a pastor in 1960s Harlem, has moved her congregation for years with a mixture of personal charisma and ferocious piety. A single mother, she has lived a public life of undying holiness and devotion to her Lord. But when her estranged husband shows up on her doorstep deathly ill, she is in danger of losing both her standing in the church and the son she has tried to keep on the godly path.
While Margaret had led everyone to believe that her husband had abandoned her with their son years ago, it was in fact Margaret who had left him and pursued a religious life. This information precipitates confrontations between Margaret, her husband, her son, and the elders of her congregation regarding what they perceive as the hypocritical nature of her religious convictions.
What follows on that Christmas is an unforgettable journey of atonement and redemption.
Adorned with resplendent gospel music, The Amen Corner is a play about faith and family, about the gulf between black men and black women and black fathers and black sons. Both sorrowful and uplifting, it is considered a masterpiece of the modern American theatre.
Making her CTC debut as Margaret is Marsha Mills. Carlos Alvalrez Davis, who appeared in last season’s Fences, portrays her husband, Luke, and Jeremiah Taylor is their son, David. Others appearing in featured roles include LaShonda Bryant, Brandon Hines, Travis Johnson, Roderick King, Teara King, LaKeysha Nolan, Patricia Pruett-Starks, Cel Reid, Charde Terry, and Cortney Warner.
Members of the congregation include Nathalie Alcime, Jessica Desmond-Bennett, Joclyn Foster, and Sherri Winston. The children’s ensemble includes Aniya Niccole Bryant, Nehemiah Bryant, Jacobi Carter, Nadia Merrell, Jada Mills, and Kennedi Morton.
The Amen Corner is directed by Ricardo C. Morris, with musical direction by Trent Williams, costume design by Tinita Coulter, lighting design by Julius JanMichael Johnson, and scene design by Tom Hansen. Denise Wilborn is the stage manager.
Performances are Dec. 6-7 at 8 p.m., Dec. 8 at 2:30 p.m., Dec. 12 at 7 p.m., Dec. 13-14 at 8 p.m., Dec. 15 at 2:30 p.m., Dec. 19 at 7 p.m., Dec. 20-21 at 8 p.m., and Dec. 22 at 2:30 p.m.
The Amen Corner is one of two holiday offerings at the CTC this season. The theatre’s production of Mary Poppins also runs through Dec. 22.
For tickets to either show, call the CTC box office at 267-8534 or visit TheatreCentre.com.