Lesson in the laughter
By Sue Ellen Ross Post-Tribune correspondent October 31, 2012 2:56PM
The cast of “Deacon Willie’s Last Will and Testament” includes (front from left) Carol Payne, Marquis Sample, Judy Spearman and (back from left) Mary Brooks, Carol Culver Williams, Marcus Steele Sr. and John King. | Photo provided
IF YOU GO
◆ “Deacon Willie’s Last Will and Testament”
◆ 6:45 p.m. Nov. 1, 2 and 3
◆ Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church,
1747 Fillmore St., Gary
◆ Admission is free; freewill offering taken.
Although the Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church is almost 90 years old, it has kept up with the times in many ways. With more than 500 members, it has developed 16 different ministries for all ages.
And one of those myriad ways to reach out is to offer dramatic presentations to the public.
This year’s fall show, “Deacon Willie’s Last Will and Testament” by Roosevelt Wright, is a religious comedy set at the “We’re Glad to See You Funeral Parlor” and centers around “what the love of money will make people do.”
“This play was chosen because of the lesson that it ultimately teaches, as it shines a light on members of the Sweet Bethlehem Church who, according to Deacon Willie, need to ‘straighten up and fly right’,” said church member Janice Culver, the play’s director. “These characters, along with their spiritual flaws, are very common in the church of today. As with all of our productions, a spiritual message goes forth with humor to make the audience take a look at themselves.”
Cheryl Sesson of Gary will serve as assistant director of the performance.
Nina Turner of Christ Universal Temple of Chicago will take the stage as Agnes, Jake’s wife.
Culver had asked Turner to participate in her church’s production last year, “Mourners to Glory,” which was her first experience with the Drama Ministry. Turner said she enjoys the fellowship, working with the other actors and being part of productions that deliver a message, is entertaining, as well as educational.
She briefly described the focus of the comedy presentation.
“Church members think we are attending a funeral for Deacon Willie. We have also been told that he left each of us a large sum of money, which we will receive if we make specific changes,” she said. “In the end, we learn a huge lesson. The changes that we were requested to make were things that we should have done all along.”
In addition to Turner, cast members include the Jerusalem Drama Ministry: John King, Mary Harris Brooks, Charlie Brooks, Marcus Steele Sr., Carol Culver Williams and Judy Spearman.
Returning actors include Marquis Sample and Carol Payne of the Bethel Temple Church of God in Christ in Gary. Guest actors include local attorney Noah Holcomb as Deacon Willie Genes. The scenery for the performance is being furnished by the House of Robinson Funeral Home in Gary.
Northwest Indiana native and recording artist C. Wesley Tucker warms up the audience with some of his songs before the show begins.