That Church Life by Teresa B. Howell is a 3 book series detailing the relationship between a PK (preacher's kid) and the shoes of her father she's groomed to step into as the next leader of Mt. Zion Holiness Church. Teresa transitioned from author to playwright, scripting this faith drama into a stage play. Having already reviewed the first installment of That Church Life, which you can read here, I was excited hear there was going to be a play! I traveled to Durham, NC to see the remarkable sold out theatrical event as lead character Missy, her love, her daddy, her friends, & her new boo came to life.
The Church Crew: Natalia Freemon, Missy Jones, and Michelle Hanks
Avid readers and book lovers will tell you, "the book is always better." Better than the movie, better than the play. For many of us, that has been the case with everything from August Wilson's Fences, which is a book, a play and a movie, to The Color Purple by Alice Walker, also a book, movie and play, to the book on every woman's shelf -Terry McMillian's Waiting to Exhale, a blockbuster hit.
The book is always better. As is the case with That Church Life the Stage Play. Plays and movies are limited on time, weakening the ability for the characters and the plot to develop. I had to read a book and a half before I learned who actually shot Missy's abusive, cheating dirt bag of a boyfriend Tommy. Yet in the play, the true killer was revealed before the intermission. The hurt and healing from the secret Pastor Jones had been keeping from Missy all of her life, happened all too quickly in comparison to the book. By the end of the play, all is forgiven and it's happily ever after as Jamaican rude boy Beanie proposes after meeting Missy on a girls vacation with Natalia and Michelle.
Cast L to R: Natalia Freemon played by Vontora, Missy Jones played by Jasmyne D. Williams, Beanie Anderson played by Brandonn Aventura Odom, Michelle Hanks played by Witney Harney, center: writer/producer Teresa B. Howell
Not dismayed or disappointed, the play was well written, well directed, professionally organized and promoted. The setting remained located at the church where all of the drama popped off. Most importantly That Church Life the Stage Play STARTED ON TIME. Tyler Perry couldn't have done better. The actors dominated the stage, inhabiting the emotions of fictitious characters experiencing real-life actions and the consequences birthed from them.
MC/Comedian NuffCed and Teresa B. Howel
Pastor Henry Cephus Jones played by KC Harney
Olivia Wallace played by Rhonda Eubanks
I was grateful for the intermission. It allowed me to connect with a few Black Owned businesses I was not familiar with but will definitely be checking out in the near future. I highly recommend you do the same.
Much like other Christian plays, there is some comic relief and the crowd responded in an uproar of laughter. There were moments I could barely take notes or record because the scenes were that intense or the the actors were acting a fool. No matter how many times the audience whooped, hollered, or broke out into hysterics, the actors remained in character. The MC was just as entertaining and the live musicians added to the plays appeal.
Without the full roller-coaster ride of emotions you feel when reading the books, as you watched the play, you could sense Pastor Jones did what he believed was best for his daughter Missy; that the bond among the crew was unbreakable; Beanie's resilient patience while Missy grieved for Tommy after he died was evident; and you could feel the heavy weight of ministry lain on Missy despite the anointing she carried.
Writing a play is no easy task: auditioning actors, picking a venue, and drafting a script that embodies enough of the book that the theme is not lost. Teresa B. Howell did a phenomenal job of sharing a pivotal message: God's love can lift and place you exactly where you need to be no matter how hard or far you may have fallen. The next time That Church Life the Stage Play is running, grab your pew partner and treat yourself to a Holy Ghost good time. Amen!
For more of That Church Life the Stage Play, click the YouTube video below and to bring That Church Life to your congregation, contact Teresa B. Howell at www.teresabhowell.com