Kumbayah…The Juneteenth Story


On Wednesday June 11 through Saturday June 20th, Kumbayah…The Juneteenth Story, a play written, directed, and produced by Minnesota’s own playwright Ms. Rose McGee, will be playing at the Landmark Center, in downtown St. Paul. This brilliant production depicts the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, which declared freedom for all African slaves. The play is a celebration of the human spirit, birthed out of an ugly time in America’s history.

Kumbayah is very uplifting and entertaining, suitable for all audiences. Kumbayah, currently in it’s tenth season, stars, in returning roles, Mr. Bobby Hickman as Fredrick Douglas. Mr. Hickman has been a [part of this production since its beginning. Also returning are Anthony Galloway as Lewis; Thandisizwe Nisan-Jackson as Big Mama. Thandisizwe just returned from Washington D.C., where she represented the state of Minnesota in the national Poetry Out Loud competition. Johnny Brown returns as Reverand Cleo; also returning are Tazia Edwards, Jazzalette Wandrick, Amani Ward and Raymond Jackson as Deacon J and Ole Earl. ‘Kumbayah..The Juneteenth Story’ will have you laughing and crying as together one feels the hardships and misery of slavery. This year welcomes many newcomers including South Minneapolis Phillips neighborhood’s own Rajel Johnson and Tashawn Moore. Mr Johnson plays two roles Leroy and Nate. When asked about this upcoming experience, he said, “This is my second production. I played the role of Sun, in ‘Pieces of The Past’, this past winter. A friend invited me to be a part of this play, ‘Kumbayah…The Juneteenth Story’, and the experience thus far has been very comforting, peaceful, and it’s great stepping into character, becoming someone else to get an important message and story out. It is so good to expose people to parts of history that so many do not know about.”

Ms. Tashawn Moore comes to Minneapolis from Washington D.C., and she made it to the fourth round of American Idol. She said, “I have been in theater for over 16 years, including graduating from Duke Ellington School of Theater Arts in Washington D.C. I majored in Theater and my very first production opportunity came in, ‘Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide, When The Rainbow was Enough’, an off-Broadway production written by Ntozake Shange. ‘Kumbayah’ has taken me back into that part of my life in which I had placed on hold. Everyday work took me from my very first reality of life, the stage. It’s a great experience to work with people of Ms. McGee’s caliber. (Ms. McGee is the writer/director of Kumbayah.) Having opportunities such as the entire cast being invited to outside activities makes me be thrilled at being a part of this production.”

Yes, Ms. McGee’s knack of bringing the best out of people is oh so apparent in ‘Kumbayah…The Juneteenth Story’. Mark your calendar now to attend this performance, which starts Wednesday June 11 at The Landmark Center Auditorium, 75 West 5th Street, in downtown St Paul, For performance times and more information, please call 651-649-5473.

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