Gospel music stars in holiday production
By Lisa DeNeal Post-Tribune correspondent November 28, 2012 4:42PM
Pastor Sieon Roberts, Andre Cobb and the Rev. Pharis Evans Jr. perform a scene from "How a Grouch Stole Gospel." | Provided Photo~Sun-Times Media
If You Go
◆ MAS Media Seven Presents “How a Grouch Stole Gospel”
◆ West Side Theatre at West Side Leadership Academy,
900 Gerry St., Gary
◆ 7 p.m. Dec. 7, 8, 14 and 15
◆ Tickets are $25 each.
They can be purchased at www.4grouch.com or by
calling (855) 447-6824.
Updated: January 1, 2013 6:05AM
GARY — West Side Theatre Guild artistic director Mark Spencer is branching out with an original production that will take audiences on a journey of redemption.
“How a Grouch Stole Gospel” is the debut gospel musical stage play from Spencer’s production company, MAS Media Seven.
The production’s website — www.4grouch.com — describes “How a Grouch Stole Gospel” as “a community coming to grips with a miserly man of great wealth who basically owns the whole town. When the annual gospel concert is canceled and the gospel radio station format is changed to hip hop, the town becomes unglued.”
The play runs the two weekends in December, dates normally reserved for the West Side Theatre Guild’s annual “Lyrics” production. Spencer decided instead to do something different.
“I wanted to venture off into another sector of our audience. There was a demographic that I did not feel I was servicing enough.
“We’ve done Shakespeare, Lorraine Hansberry and August Wilson pieces, but there’s nothing written in text that is urban contemporary and funny. I was so passionate about it I wanted to do it independently … a leap of faith,” Spencer said.
The production will have two acts. Act 1 consists of dialogue while Act 2 will have a concert-style event with guest performers Walt Whitman and the Soul Children of Chicago, 21:03 and Darryll King of radio station WSRB-FM (Soul 106.3)
The cast includes veteran West Side Theatre Guild actors and newcomers, including two local pastors — Sieon Roberts of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church and Pharis Evans Jr. of Clark Road Missionary Baptist Church.
Evans, who is also president and CEO of PhEv Entertainment and an award-winning veteran of the gospel music industry, has the role of Ramses Morgan. Roberts is cast as Phillip Grogan.
“It was not planned to have two beloved men of the cloth in the production, it just happened. I’ve wanted to work with Evans for years and he did ‘Lyrics: The Gospel Experience’ and he is comfortable in the acting level of the stage,” Spencer said.
Emerson Visual and Performing Arts alumna and Chicago Luvabull Asia S. Dickens debuts as an actress in “Grouch.”
“I am pretty excited about acting in a play. I’ve always choreographed or danced in the Guild productions but I decided I was ready to branch out,” she said.
Spencer said his goal is to have “Grouch” be a staple in the community and eventually go on tour.