Since American slavery times, the Black Church has been an integral institution in the African-American community. Javon Johnson’s play Sanctified brings the unique Black church experience to stage with the fictional East Piney Grove Baptist Church.
The gospel music-infused production follows the animated congregants and their ambitious new pastor as they fight to overcome hard economic times with participation in an annual gospel revival show. With the help of a new over-the-top choir director, the choir attempts to update their uninspired repertoire – much to the elders’ displeasure. According to Johnson, the play is not only entertaining, but draws attention to larger issues affecting the Black church.
“This is a warm, joyous, hymn-filled show that bears witness to the trials and triumphs of the African-American church. The project set out to explore the traditional world of gospel music and how it has been twisted, turned, and constantly revolutionized by the hip-hop and the R&B sound,” the playwright said in a statement.
Winner of six 2009 Black Theater Alliance Awards, including the August Wilson Award for Best Writing of a Play (Musical / Adaptation), Best Production (Musical or Revue), Best Direction (Musical or Revue), and Best Musical Director, Sanctified has enjoyed runs across the country. Proteus Spann and Pro2Play Productions produced the play, while Derrick Sanders and Rollo A. Dilworth provide directing credits and original music, respectively. The play’s cast includes John McClure Jr. as Pastor Harold P. Jones, Mary Millben as Sister Pauletta Denise Jones, Almonica Caldwell (Clara), Jessica Frances Dukes (Thelma), Elllis Foster (Bobby), Ashley Jeudy (Monique), Bernadine Mitchell (Sarah), Joshua Nelson (Mister), William T. Newman Jr. (Sir), Frederick Strother (Deacon) and Kasaun T. Wilson (Jamal) rounding out the featured entertainers.
“Sanctified” runs through Nov. 14 at the Lincoln Theatre. Tickets are $37-$47. For more information visit letsgetsanctified.com. Visit ticketmaster.com for tickets.