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BG Falcon Media

The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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Get thrilled by the 80’s

With performances that celebrate the most popular African-American cultural icons of yesteryear, the 16th Annual Dinner Theatre is the perfect climax to the University’s Black History Month celebrations.

Sponsored by the Center for Multicultural and Academic Initiatives (CMAI), the dinner theater’s 75- member crew will perform skits and sing songs that spoof sitcoms, movies and R’B stars from the 1980s.

Some of the segments pay tribute to “Miami Vice,” Rick James, Whitney Houston and “Harlem Nights.”

Not all of them will be comedy routines, however. “The Color Purple,” a movie about a southern black woman in the early 1900s married to an oppressive husband, is one of the more somber sketches being performed.

Sheila Brown, associate director of the CMAI and the Dinner Theater’s producer, felt it was necessary to include some serious content in the evening’s mostly raucous lineup.

“‘The Color Purple’ touched a lot of people,” Brown said. “We thought it was really important to portray something with substance.”

The dinner theater has been months in the making. Rehearsals for performers began last November, then weekly meetings became daily at the beginning of the year.

Meanwhile, 10 people worked on stage preparations and costumes.

Costume design is an important aspect, Brown said, because it helps the actors and actresses get into character.

The Rick James costume will feature a zip-up tuxedo suit and sequins on his shoes, complete with a large afro wig.

Singing portions promise to be a highlight of the evening. Brown even hired a vocal coach, Jakise Oree, to help the singers.

“We gave each person a CD with clips [of artists] so they can give an accurate portrayal,” Brown said. “A lot of artists nowadays throw in their own riffs, [but] we wanna keep the sound as original as possible.”

Comedian and singer Jay Lamont will return to host the production for the second year in a row.

Brown and Lamont met at Langston University in the early 1980s. “Jay and I have a very long history,” Brown said. “Even back then, Jay was the ‘campus entertainer,’ so we all knew he was going places.”

Brown began asking Lamont to host her show in 2000 and he finally accepted last year. “And now that he’s come, he’s like, ‘I’ll come every year!'” Brown said.

Lamont lit up the show with his stand-up routines and impressions last year and told Brown after the show that he was impressed with its quality.

Seventy of the show’s 75 performers are students from either Bowling Green High School or BGSU.

Cameron Holland, a senior at the University, began performing in the dinner theater six years ago.

“Sheila’s nephew told me about it,” Holland said. After being involved in the performing arts since he was young, the dinner theater appealed to him.

Even after years of performing for audiences, including roles in the dinner theater such as Michael Jackson performing Thriller, a hyena in “The Lion King” and a singer in the Temptations, Holland still gets sweaty palms before a show.

“I still get nervous, but I like being able to perform for people,” he said.

This year, he will play Cliff Huxtable (Bill Cosby) during a scene from “The Cosby Show.”

As for his time working with the CMAI, Holland has enjoyed it. “I think it’s a good way to get involved on campus,” he said. “CMAI is a great place, they help you out.”

There will be a performance on Friday, Feb. 18 and Saturday, Feb. 19. Both will begin at 7:00 p.m.

Friday’s dress is informal and hors d’oeuvres will be served. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.

Saturday’s audience is asked to wear formal attire. A dinner buffet will be served and advance tickets are $22. No tickets will be sold at the door on Saturday.

The CMAI will sell tickets at a reduced price this Monday only, offering a second ticket at half price.

Tickets can be purchased at the CMAI’s office, located at 424 Saddlemire.

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