Ready to Shake? Black Theatre Ensemble presents “Tambourines to Glory”

Hang on to your hats, theater-goers, and with a ticket in hand, make your way to Hoey auditorium for a fresh and energetic production by WCU’s Black Theatre Ensemble. Join them as they present “Tambourines to Glory” by Langston Hughes.

The drama, set in Harlem during 1958, will begin Thursday, March 29, and run through Saturday, March 31. Each performance will begin at 7:30 p.m.

“Tambourines to Glory” is a story that begins with two women who are down on their luck. Laura Wright Reed and Essie Belle Johnson, played by Shannika Hubbard and Nicole Winsley, develop a plan to found a church in order to help provide them with economic support. But as the two women begin building the “O’Tambourine Temple” and begin gathering a rather large following of people who are also down on their luck, they soon realize that there’s more to being a church than they had thought.

However, things get even trickier when a man by the name of Buddy Lomax (Joe Monroe) gets involved with their enterprise. Lomax is a street-wise and somewhat mysterious representation of Satan. He assists the ladies by providing the growing church with more money-making schemes. It isn’t long though before he turns his eyes and charm on Laura in hopes of becoming her lover.

Also appearing in this production are Ronnie Harper as Essie’s daughter, Marietta, and Jared Wilkins as C.J.

Al Wiggins, an associate professor of communication and theatre arts, is the play’s director.

Wiggins commented, “Not only is this play a classic battle between good and evil, it is also a tale of friendship, faith, and redemption.”

Audience members will get all of the usual visual goodies with set, costume, and the actors’ performances, but they will also get lively music and song.

Wiggins said, “This play resonates with gospel music and a touch of contemporary jazz.”

Lights, music, and talented performers are key ingredients that hint at the excitement of live drama in the week ahead. Time and energy given by the actors are components that are sure to bring a polished sheen to the show.

“Tambourines to Glory” is just one of the many works produced by the famous writer Langston Hughes. In addition to writing drama, Hughes wrote poetry, fiction, essays, and history. He won several prizes, awards and fellowships, and is considered by many critics to be the most influential African-American poet in American literature.

Tickets for the show are $12.50 for adults, $10 for senior citizens, and $5 for students. To make reservations or get more information, call (828) 227-7491.