Love circulates, penetrates and captivates. It ignites a fire that stirs up passion, whether for another being, a cause or a craft. Kevin Lee-y Green and his late mother and director of the Hannah Block Historic USO/Community Arts Center, Donna Green, have shared their love for the arts for years. In fact, it’s inspired numerous actors, dancers and singers to hone their talents exponentially. Aside from overseeing youth camps and productions for the Thalian Association, through their upstart Techmoja Dance Company, Green and her son have produced shows, like “The House That Gordy Built” and “Dream Girls,” for artists of all ethnicities to be offered a chance to hit the stage. Despite her untimely death last August, Green’s son is honoring his mother the best way he knows how: in spreading her passion for stage craft and to celebrate Black History Month (Donna also served as a member of the Wilmington Black Arts Alliance, the N.C. Black Film Festival and the Cape Fear Jazz Society, as well as co-chaired the local Martin Luther King Celebration Committee). Kevin will debut his original script, “Love Songs,” this weekend at TheatreNOW, a show he not only wrote but choreographed and directed as well.
“It’s something that has been in the works for a couple years now,” he says. “It was a suggestion from my mother when we were searching for material fit for Black History Month. She suggested I do a musical revue full of African-American love songs. As always my brain won’t allow me to do anything without making it complicated.”
Kevin has picked a slew of popular songs to help thread the plot. From Billy Paul’s R&B hit “Me and Mrs. Jones,” to Gladys Knight and the Pips’ famed “Midnight Train to Georgia,” a live band will lead the way for a host of dancers and actors. “I’ve taken love songs and arranged them so the storyline shows through,” Kevin explains.
“Love Songs” follows an engaged couple, Vanessa and Eric, whose relationship is following a rocky path. The travel to Georgia to visit Eric’s family, and their road trip takes them through various states and radio stations, with familiar tunes inspiring reflection on life and love.
“Like so many relationships, it started out ‘perfect,’” Kevin explains, “then, eventually, it began to decline. It is Vanessa’s belief that she can save her relationship by following her fiancé, who’s had no success with work.”
But in Georgia, Vanessa also meets Eric’s high-school sweetheart, Sherry. “Will Eric and Vanessa mend their broken relationship, or will he and Sherry rekindle what was their ‘first love’?” Kevin asks rhetorically. “[It’s a] story of passion, friendship, weakness, yearning, discovery, and infidelity.”
The cast consists of Kiaren “Flower” Woodards, who will play Vanessa; Woodards actullay flew in from Dallas, Texas, for the role. Redmond Wheeler and Cecily Serene will take on the roles of Eric and Sherry. Also joining the cast are Terrill Williams, Devon Brown, Adrienne DeBouse, Ian Davis, and Michael Sherrod, among others. A live band will lead the way, backed by Labaron Wallington (drums), Joey Lamb (guitar), Ralik Johnson (bass), and Marcus Suber (keyboard). They will bring to life pop music spanning the late ‘60s to the early ‘90s.
“The song choices were a given—I say that because they help to develop the characters,” Kevin says. “The most exciting thing about the show is seeing how [the songs] become part of a dialogue.”
One of Kevin’s favorite scenes derives from a young lady (Jessica Small) who discovers a man who will eventually become her love. “Killing Me Softly” by Roberta Flack backs the scene.
“The audience will hear some of the greatest music ever written,” Kevin promises. “Most importantly, it will introduce a new generation to ‘real’ music.”
The TheatreNOW production has been helmed by set designer Jim Wenning, with projections designed by Adiair Parker and costumes by Terrill Williams. “It’s important to me for this to be a success, because it was important to [my mother,]” Kevin says. “I wish she could be here to see how beautiful it is.”
February 19-21, 7:30 p.m. • February 22, 3 p.m.
TheatreNOW • 19 S. 10 Street