Man of many crowns
By Lisa DeNeal Post-Tribune correspondent July 23, 2012 2:18PM
Gary native David Jennings is performing in "Crowns" at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. | Photo provided
If You Go
◆ Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago
◆ Extended performances through Aug. 11. Visit www.goodmantheatre.org for information on ticket prices and performance times, call the box office from noon to 5 p.m. at (312) 443-3800. For group sales, call (312) 443-3820 or email groups@GoodmanTheatre.org.
Updated: August 25, 2012 6:04AM
Gary native and New York City resident David Jennings wears many hats in the acclaimed musical “Crowns,” now playing at the Goodman Theatre.
“Crowns” is based on the book “Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats” by Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry, who is also a Gary native.
While the gospel musical tells the story of a Chicago woman sent down South after the death of her brother and weaves in the history of black women and the hats they wear, Jennings does not physically wear a hat. His “hats” are the various characters he portrays during the nonstop, one hour and 40-minute production.
“I play a brother, preacher, father, husband. I have to not only run off stage and change into these characters, but sing and whatever else each character is called to do,” he said hours before a Monday night performance.
“Crowns” is Jennings’ first time performing at the Goodman Theatre and he is part of the production’s 10th anniversary.
“ ‘Crowns’ has been produced and performed all over for the last decade and I am excited to be a part of this ensemble,” Jennings said.
Jennings is also excited to be working with veteran award-winning television and film actress, director and playwright Regina Taylor, who brought “Crowns” to the stage.
Taylor is best known for playing in the CBS drama “The Unit” as well as the NBC series “I’ll Fly Away,” which earned her a Golden Globe, an NAACP Image Award and two Emmy nominations for her role as Lily Harper.
“Regina is directing the production here and she is a great person to work with,” Jennings said.
An alumnus of Andrean High School in Merrillville, Jennings has 20 years of experience in the arts.
Visit his website, www.davidjenningsmusic.biz and you’ll see he’s performed alongside veteran Broadway star and singer Jennifer Holiday, “American Idol” winner Reuben Studdard (Jennings was nominated for a Grammy with Studdard for their recordings for the production of “Ain’t Misbehavin’ ”) and worked with actress Sarah Jessica Parker in the Broadway production of “Once Upon a Mattress.”
He has also performed with his personal idols Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson, among others. He’s also appeared on the F/X cable drama “The Shield.”
Jennings counts his blessings daily. He is a thyroid cancer survivor and wrote about his journey on his website.
“I had to drop out of a production when I was diagnosed; it’s definitely a testimony,” he said.