San Diego, CA---Calvin Manson founder of Ira Aldridge Repertory Players, now in its thirtieth year, has a penchant for finding talent and bringing it to the fore…in a big way.
Manson’s and musical director and creator Eric Overstreet’s current offering, celebrating Soul Music and more specifically the music of Motown, R&B and its celebs with celebs of his own, is an entertaining and inspirational two hour evening of songs by Carole King, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Marvin Gaye, Isaac Hayes, Dave Porter, Otis Redding, Brown, The Temptations, Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson and Mark Rice.
The evening starts off with MC Galaxy Glen Reynolds telling us the evening is a dress rehearsal of a musical competition. We were all given scoring sheets as we entered the theatre so we could vote. After a few jokes and some chatter the performers were introduced and the sprightly “Celebrate” opened the songfest, involving the audience, for an evening of what was to be a talent show extraordinaire.
Backed by a live band of six and featuring Robbie Douglass “You Make Me Feel (Like) Natural Woman” and “Dr. Feel Good”, “Respect” performed by Janice Edwards,” “A Change Is Gonna Come” by the Overstreet Brothers, Carl and Eric, “Mustang Sally”, with Janice Edwards, “Love and Happiness” performed by Rodney Hutsona, “Sex Machine” performed by Ayanna Hobson and “My Girl” with the entire cast.
Billed as a Musical Spectacular highlighting the above-mentioned legends of Soul, the program ended with bang showcasing an additional showstopper of young people from the Teye Sa Thiosanne African Drum and Dance Company featuring no less than nine performers dressed in colorful costumes and playing the Latin Percussion and Bongo Drums and dancing (“Dundunba”… ‘The Dance of the Strong Man’)* with more energy than I could muster in a lifetime.
And if that were not enough the Thunder Squad Drumline choreographed by Tyra Hawthorne “Dancing In The Streets” that included (to my count) twenty-nine young folks playing drums and spinning cymbals while marking time and marching. That added another layer to an already overflowing evening of solid gold entertainment.
Jordan Humphries, a student with the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts is a percussionist, drum major, and mentor for The Jackie Robinson Family YMCA Thunder Squad Drum Line. As an aspiring artist his goal was to study at the Berklee College of Summer Performance Program in Boston when he graduates in 2015. His dream was realized when he recently was accepted to their program. On Opening night of “A Tribute to Soul Music” Mr. Humphries was presented with a $500.00 check from the proceeds of the ticket sales. The company will continue to use some of the proceeds of the ticket sales to pass on to Humphries scholarship fund.
There isn’t much not to like about this show. For an evening of pure toe tappin, hand clappin’ pleasure, this is your best bet.
*Doundunba has its’ origins in the Hamana and Kouroussa regions of upper Guinea West Africa with the MANINKA people. Traditionally this dance is done in a public place. Its purpose is to demonstrate to important leaders and to the people the men’s strength, vitality, bravery and the ability to defend the community. They do this with risky acrobatic and fighting movement. In some regions when done in a more peaceable fashion women are allowed.
See you at the theatre.
Dates: Through March 23rd
Organization: Ira Aldridge Repertory Players
Production Type: Music/Dance
Where: 4343 Ocean View Blvd.
Ticket Prices: $20.00-$25.00
Venue: Educational Culture Complex