Up & Coming Weekly

May 02, 2023

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 16 of 24

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM 16 UCW MAY 3 - 9, 2023 EVENTS CFRT production of 'Jelly's Last Jam' sure to entertain by AUBRETTE REID AUBRETTE REID, Staff Writer. COMMENTS? editor@upandcom- ingweekly.com. 910-484-6200. Gardenmania brings community together at CFBG by ISAIAH JONES "Jelly's Last Jam" is a musical which premiered in 1992 and was written and directed by George C. Wolfe. It is a tribute to the life and career of one of the pioneers of jazz music in the early 20th century — jazz pianist Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe, known as Jelly Roll Morton. It will be showing at the Cape Fear Regional eatre from May 4 to 28. e show is rated PG-13. e musical features a talented cast, and this production will shine a light on the gripping and remarkable story of an artist while also honoring Jelly Roll Morton's connection to his roots and jazz music, all brought to the CFRT stage. Up & Coming Weekly was able to talk with Director and Choreographer Brian Harlan Brooks and the lead ac- tor André Jordan. It was a fascinating conversation that shed light on the behind-the-scenes process of bringing this show to life. Brooks started as a dancer and be- lieved in telling stories and expressing feelings and emotions through dance, which made it a natural transition for him to start telling stories through directing. He is also a trained actor and stated, "ey are different skill sets, they have intersecting abilities, but they are dif- ferent skill sets. So, being trained as an actor and performing as an actor and being trained as a dancer allowed me to meet the middle of directing and choreography." Lead actor André Jordan provided insight into playing a historical fig- ure. "It has been a challenge, but it has been a very exciting challenge." Jelly Roll Morton is the first African American figure he has the honor of portraying. When addressing the process of preparing for a legendary musical and how much they draw from the original show, Brooks said he didn't want to see how the musical was done before. "As a director, sometimes you want to be really in your imagination." However, he did listen to the soundtrack. "I feel inspired to read it and ... look at the documentary and look at the intentions of the writers and the composers and then come up with my own ideas for the staging and chore- ography. is show originally was a tap show and I'm not using tap at all. So in order to do that, I really want to allow my imagination to run wild with it as opposed to having images of what somebody else created in my head." When asked if they could, for one day, play a different role from "Jelly's Last Jam," what would it be, Jordan said he would want a chance to sing Miss Mamie's part in "Michigan Water Number." Brook's choice was the Chimney Man role because it's similar to his role as a director. Brooks also noted that he liked how well-writ- ten the role of Anita is be- cause it does not stick to the stereotypical way strength is shown in a Black woman but as a clear, strong woman. Further, he could not pick just one, but Chimney Man is close to his current role as the director. e discussion moved to the cultural significance of "Jelly's Last Jam" and the topic of how the musical discusses Blackness and how it can not be defined as just one thing. "Part of the pain Jelly goes through is that he finds himself stuck between a Creole identity, a Black identity, and not being white. And Creole in Jelly Roll Morton's life was about its prox- imity and closeness to being white and being above whiteness," said Brooks. What they hope people take away from this show is something to help in their own lives. "My hope is that people will come to this show and leave with something that will make their lives and them- selves better," said Jordan. "I believe when you go through someone's individual life, it also becomes universal because all of us can identify with some parts of rejec- tion, some parts of not really feeling like you belong in certain places, and trying to find where you belong, and I think we all can identify with that ... Hopefully makes the world a better a place one individual at a time," said Brooks. eir passion and excitement about this musical are inspiring and gives an appreciation for the art of musical theatre. "Jelly's Last Jam" is a musical experi- ence you won't want to miss. Perfor- mances run from May 4 to- 28, but grab your tickets soon because some performances are already sold out. Tickets range from $19 to $37. Wednesday, May 10, is Military Ap- preciation Night (active duty, veterans and their families get 25% off the ticket price), and Friday, May 12, is Teacher Appreciation Night (teachers and their families get 25% off the ticket price). For more information and to buy tickets, visit www.cfrt.org/. Spring is here, the flowers are blooming, and plants are thriving. Fayetteville is home to many farms, horticulture lovers, and rich soil to plant your favorite plants and foods. e perfect place to experience hor- ticulture and plant life in Fayetteville, is at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden, and they're giving the community a full day to learn, plant and be one with nature at Gardenmania on May 6. is is their 4th annual event, the family friendly celebration lasts from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is packed with workshops and activities for all ages. No matter how green your thumb is, you're sure to learn something from the four keynote speakers in atten- dance and get your hands dirty with the demos and activities from the staff. ey are a lot of rural and lower income areas around downtown, with the Botanical Garden being so close to the area, they aim to create a safe place for the community to immerse themselves in nature and learn new skills that can deepen people's love for horticulture. ere will be many garden masters and health enthusiasts in attendance and speaking at Gardenmania. e Beekeepers Association will be discussing the importance of pollina- tors and handling bees with care in nature. Food nutritionists will be discussing the importance of food and nutrition in nature and how food is medicine. Dr. Todd Beasley, owner of Horitca- tion, will explain how horticulture is connected to the roots of NASCAR and how the association has been able to become more diverse and progressive. ere will also be a discussion on native plants as well as demonstra- tions on what kind of food you can grow in your own house and garden. Gardenmania is sure to bring fun and education to anyone in atten- dance. With additional plant sales, animal exhibits, and vendors galore, the botanical garden looks to provide everyone with the experience to be one with nature. Be sure to come out May 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to enjoy the celebration of gardening. Garden member tickets are $10, non members are $15, kids under the age of 11 get in free. ISAIAH JONES, U&CW Graphic Designer. COMMENTS? editor@upand- comingweekly.com. 910-484-6200.

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