Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to attend Paul D. Hannah’s stage play Before You Say I Do, presented by Soul Choice Theatre in Columbia, South Carolina. Thousands of people gathered in the Township Auditorium to watch the first show and loved it from beginning to end.
Before the show, I spoke with the play’s producer, John Ewing, and he broke down the purpose of Soul Choice Theatre. His company aims to specialize in development and production of live theatrical production without the “big names”. They provide a platform to black playwrights looking to bring their written thoughts to life, allowing the creations to derive from and include us– from its production to acting. With a focus on black theatre culture, Ewing looks forward to connecting with more playwrights and media to provide entertainment and continuously show our authentic work to the world.
In this play written and directed by Paul D. Hannah, the one and only Regina Belle is cast as Dr. Masters. Let it be known – Regina Belle could blow when she first started and nothing has changed! The woman is an absolute gem! Timeless! Belle stars as a therapist who counsels three couples who are currently planning their marriage – at least they think so. Leon, Rodney Perry, Keith Burke, Shae Williams, KiKi Haynes, and Jackie Christie, the all-star cast of couples, are in for a rude awakening upon meeting Dr. Masters. In moments guaranteed to catch the audience by surprise, actor Billy Williams also makes an appearance to twist the plot.
Each member of the cast put on phenomenal performances. Regina Belle was so dominant on stage that you almost felt as if her character was the same offstage- a guiding, assertive, yet nurturing woman of truth. Billy Williams slides his way onto the scene, causing a bit of confusion and concern for the other actors. He puts them up to the ultimate test, and hopefully no couples ever have to make decisions like those in the play. Though acting, comedian Rodney Perry was still able to fill the auditorium with several moments of laughter. When I say cackles?! The audience hollered through some of the play’s humorous moments.
Leon makes his appearance early in the show, and it was clear who many women in the audience couldn’t wait to see. Let’s just say the commentary from the front row was…interesting to say the least. KiKi Haynes, his partner for the show, was the character many women could relate to. She gave the audience a tearful lesson about holding on to pain of the past.
Two of the newer faces were actor Keith Burke and singer Shae Williams, both who displayed an undeniable on-stage chemistry. Shae?! The woman has pipes! She blew past the technical difficulties and hit a high note for the Heavens. Jackie Christie is no stranger to a camera, but her presence on stage was refreshing to see. In spite of the misconceptions some develop about her due to reality television, the crowd loved her! Her storyline is something serious…
With each of their stories, one could discover something new about themselves; some things positive and some that need immediate attention.
After the show, the cast moved to the lobby area to autograph books, albums, and meet the audience. Telling more of the play would begin to give the storyline away, but it is a show definitely worth seeing. The audience laughed, reflected, and returned the high energy put out by the cast. It is a show that everyone can relate to at some point in a relationship. For those considering marriage or any sort of relationship, this is a must-see for you. The show is guaranteed to have your emotions running high and your mind moving.
Charlotte, you’re up next! Get your tickets now and get ready for one incredible performance.