The Black Repertory Group is kicking off its 56th uninterrupted theater season with the life and music of the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. The nationally touring musical “Remembering James” opened Nov. 7 and is running Thursdays-Sundays through Nov. 24.
Based on the life and music catalog of music icon and legend James Brown, “Remembering James” offers a behind-the-scenes look at the rise of James Brown’s career from 1952, when he was introduced to Benjamin Bart, who soon became his manager, to 1968, when the nation was stunned by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.
James Brown started out as a gospel singer, part of a local choir, then bravely stepped onto the stage in a club, his talent soon to be recognized by Federal Records, who signed him to a contract.
“Remembering James: The Life and Music of James Brown” features songs such as “Please Please,” “I Feel Good” and “This is a Man’s World.” Over the years, James Brown’s story has been told through many documentaries and was adapted into the 2014 motion picture “Get on Up” starring Chadwick Boseman.
Now Dedrick Weathersby, in the stage version, is telling the story only between the years of 1951 and 1968. Weathersby stated, “This is very much on purpose and should be taken as such.”
“’Remembering James’ takes you behind the scenes of the music that many grew up on and are still singing and playing today. The rise of James Brown is incredibly compelling, while also showing the isolation between national matters and the music industry,” said producer and creator Dedrick Weathersby.
He and his company, Weathersby Productions, are partnering with the Black Repertory Group in their 56th theatrical season. Weathersby stated, “This is a promising partnership, given the longevity of the Black Repertory Group Theater’s existence and its rich African American history.”
Established in 1964, the Black Repertory Group Theater exists as the foremost theatrical griot group of its kind in the nation. The Black Repertory Group has a history of providing access to the dramatic arts for the under-privileged, under-served Black community through its programs to educate young people in the theater arts and its ability to draw crowds from local churches, schools, civic organizations and the community at large.
Directed by Dedrick Weathersby, “Remembering James: The Life and Music of James Brown” will feature musical direction by William “Will Roc” Griffin. The cast will be led by Dedrick Weathersby as James Brown, Kyle Goldman as Benjamin Bart, Donna Marie as Velma Warren Brown and William Griffin as Pee Wee.
Performances of “Remembering James” run through Nov. 7-24 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 p.m., Sundays at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $30 for seniors and military, $35 for general admission and $65 for the performance plus a VIP Meet and Greet. Tickets can be purchased by phone at 510-652-2120 or 925-262-7276 or online at www.blackrepertorygroup.com. Patrons seeking group or student tickets should call to make arrangements.
The production team is comprised of writer and director Dedrick Weathersby, music director William “Will Roc” Griffin, stage manager Morgan Becker, set designer Calvin Dieks, executive producers Dr. Mona Vaughn Scott and Sean Vaughn Scott of Black Repertory Group Inc. and producer Weathersby Productions.