Quote of the Day: I love this piece for the timeliness and timelessness of its narrative, for its humor and compassion, its candor and humanity, and, of course, for it gorgeous score. Harrison David Rivers, who wrote the book and lyrics of We Shall Someday. Music and additional lyrics by Ted Shen. The story of three generations of Black Americans, spanning from 1961 to 1992.
Theater Latté Da is producing the world premiere of We Shall Someday by Rivers and Shen, and directed by Kelli Foster Warder. It covers themes of racism, police violence, community, family, and a call to action. Three members of the same family tell their story through musical monologues in this three act musical.
We first hear Julius (Roland Hawkins II) tell his story, set in the early 1960’s during the Civil Rights movement. He shows us how he went from working in a kitchen at a local diner to riding the freedom buses in the south. He sings of the heartache of leaving his young, twin daughters to march, and of the kind white woman who raised them when he wasn’t there. Hawkins portrays the emotions of a father, a Black man marching for justice, and the system that is set against him. Through his spoken word and songs, he draws us into his story.
The music and words are written to smoothly transition in and out of the songs, so there is no stopping the flow, no applause pause. In the second act, we hear from Ruby (Erin Nicole Farsté), Julius’ daughter. She fills in the details of what happened to her father, and shares her story of growing up and becoming a mother. Her scenes at the cemetery are especially moving. Her gorgeous voice soars to the heavens.
In the third act, Jay (Ronnie Allen) continues the story. The struggle of violence against young Black men is still evident. He is beaten, but not broken. He joins the protests and raises his voice in unity with others who demand justice.
Bradley Johnson is the fourth member of the cast, playing various White guards and officers, and also Scooter, Jay’s friend. Each act features one of the main actors, who sing mostly solos, while the other cast members join in for harmonies in the background, except for the final number where they all come together for the title song.
Denise Prosek directs the band, playing on stage behind the backdrop. The music is gorgeous from the arrangements to the superior vocals by all the actors. Projections (Kathy Maxwell) set the scene and provide historical placement as well as footage of young performers singing and creating together for the final scene (I loved that one). The set (Sarah Bahr) is a beautiful, light colored, multi-level stage that lends itself to the various scenes and backdrops. Costumes (Amber Brown) represent the various decades that these characters live in. Lighting by Kyia Britts and sound design by C. Andrew Mayer.
This new musical lifts up Black voices from America’s turbulent history. It also tells the story of three generations of Americans, the struggles they endured, the love they felt, and the bonds that are never broken. It shows the ugly side of racism and offers the hope of people coming together to make a change. We’re all in this together.
You can see We Shall Someday at Theater Latté Da through May 14, 2023.
If you’d like to get a glimpse of the music and performers, check out this video by Theater Latté Da.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: Do you know anyone who was a freedom rider, marched for justice, or was part of any protests? What positive changes do you see, or hope for?