BWW Review: ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI at Miami New Drama
So, So Pretty
Michel Hausmann concludes his welcoming speech: "A change is going to come, oh yes it will."
The house lights crash to total black and a skull shattering roar fills the void. It's the final radio call from the 1964 Cassius Clay Sonny Liston fight.
"I am the greatest, I am the greatest" Cassius Clay screams.
Sanity returns to Miami Beach's Colony Theatre.
There's the Hampton House Motel. Two stories. Iron railings. Iron balcony. Downstairs room. Two beds. Two security guards. Depressing. Overtown.
Cassius Clay is the Heavy Weight Boxing Champion of the World and it's Overtown where he must celebrate? Miami Beach? No. Clay must have a police pass to be on the beach after 6 pm.
So back in 2013 playwright Kemp Powers wrote "ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI".
And here's Malcom X, Sam Cooke, Jim Brown, and, almost incidentally, Cassius Clay, hanging out. They eat ice cream. Jim Brown wants girls, Sam Cooke wants booze, Malcom X wants to change the world and Cassius Clay is happy bouncing on the bed, shadow boxing and shouting he's the best.
Jason Delane is the corporate Malcom X, clothing and voice tuned to the Islam Nation. He harangues Sam Cooke, (Leon Thomas III). Cooke is the singing, songwriting legend of the time. Malcom X decries Cooke's catering to his white audience. Malcom X is guarded by hotel security guard Kareem, an intimidating Javon Jacobs. Roderick Randle is Jamaal, Kareem's acolyte.
Esau Pritchett is the huge, seemingly happy, brutal, wealthy running back Jim Brown. Movie star plans. Gulps endless ice cream. I need the girls.
Kieron J Anthony is Cassius Clay. He joins the Nation Of Islam. He changes his name to Mohammond Ali. "I'm so pretty."
It's just four guys goofing off, wanting a party, getting embroiled in life. Director Carl Cofield has his four veteran actors riding the edge of tension for the full ninety minutes. It's enthralling stuff, it's us versus them, them versus us in racially loaded 1964 Miami. 2018? Pretty much the same.
Assistant director Erik J. Rodriguez.
Michel Hausmann has pledged his company to diversity. People, language, religion.
His ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI has delivered. The audience on the final night seemed mostly black. A sold out house for an intriguing and revelatory evening of theatre.
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI by Miami New Drama ran Oct 27 through November 18 at the Colony Theatre, 1040 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, 305. 674.1040 http://miaminewdrama.org/our-home-the-colony-theatre