BY JORDAN GIBBONS
When Mark Lord was asked to tweak his “Let’s Hear It For Queens” musical for a performance at the Black Spectrum Theater, he realized that the rich history of Southeast Queens required him to create an entirely new story.
In 2013, Lord wrote and directed the original play that paid tribute to the Borough’s history and people. Afterward, Carl Clay, founder of Black Spectrum, asked Lord to focus the story on Jamaica and its surrounding neighborhoods.
“In doing my research, I was amazed at the amount of talented people who were born in the area or lived there,” Lord said. “It sounded like it should be a whole new show.”
That is when “Made in Southeast Queens” was born.
Lord said that there are about a dozen songs performed during the show, with seven original songs written by Derek Galloway for the community-focused production.
The story is centered on a young child named Dylan who is assigned a school project to bring history to life. He visits his grandmother, Hattie, who tells him stories about the history of the area, which turns into a magical adventure through time.
By the end of the show, Dylan has his idea for the project.
Dylan will be played by Alfonso Noble and Asha Brown during separate performances to help young boys and girls relate to the character. Hattie is played by Venus Hall. There is also Lena the nosey neighbor, portrayed by Diana Collier and Patricia Parrish will be playing the driver of the bus that takes Hattie and Dylan back in time.
Lord said that there are about 17 or 18 performers in the show and about half of them live in the Southeast Queens area. Other than the four main roles, everyone will play multiple characters in the musical.
In the middle of the show, there will be a tribute portion that salutes entertainers and community leaders in the area.
Lord taught English for 14 years at August Martin High School in Jamaica and named characters in the performance after his former students. He also interviewed long time residents of the area to learn some anecdotal stories and some of them made it into the play, Lord said.
“It really talks about things that are kind of being lost in history,” he said. “We hope the show will preserve some of that history. I also hope it will bring back some of the nostalgia for the older people.”
Lord also said that he thinks the show will help reach some of the younger audience members.
“My number one goal is to entertain,” Lord said. “If we happen to educate along the way, all the better.”
“Made in Southeast Queens” will be performed March 6 to March 8 and March 13 to March 15. The Friday and Saturday shows start at 8 p.m. and the Sunday shows begin at 4 p.m. The March 13 performance will be free and the other five shows will cost $12. For tickets, visit blackspectrum.com or call (718) 723-1800. Black Spectrum Theater is located at the Roy Wilkins Recreation Center in Jamaica at the 177th Street and Baisley Boulevard entrance.
Reach Reporter Jordan Gibbons at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 123, firstname.lastname@example.org or @jgibbons2.