Relive the glory days with The Mighty Gents on CSULB stage
2010-04-07 · By Editor
Cal State Long Beach University Players presents The Mighty Gents by Richard Wesley, April 16 to May 1. Directed by CSULB alumnus and guest director Baron Kelly, the play tells the tale of a gang that once ruled the Central Ward of Newark, New Jersey, after conquering their rivals, the Zombies.
Now in their thirties, aging, and down on their luck, the Gents are left only with their recollections of past successes. Longing to relive their glory days, the gang decides to stage a grand robbery. When the caper does not go as planned, the Gents turn on each other like vultures, proving their years of camaraderie were ultimately meaningless.
Kelly believes The Mighty Gents addresses how society can get worn down by socio-economic pressures. “Kids that come from poverty-ridden upbringings have taken individual paths to material success, many relying on peer groups to get ahead. At the end of the day, though, a man can only depend on himself,” Kelly says.
The choice to produce The Mighty Gents in Long Beach is deliberate; locals will likely relate to the effect of gang violence on a community, and a community’s survival in the face of conflict. The production’s scenic design is symbolic of these very themes: a granite stoop— a foundational piece of neighborhood architecture— which still survives, though worn, amidst the urban decay.
Once called The Last Street Play, The Mighty Gents premiered in 1978 at the Ambassador Theatre on Broadway, starring Morgan Freeman. Since then, casts of the production have included such greats as Samuel L. Jackson and Denzel Washington. Playwright Richard Wesley is an African American playwright and screenwriter who serves as Associate Professor at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he is currently Chair of the Department of Dramatic Writing.
Director Baron Kelly is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at Chapman University. He holds a diploma from London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, an MFA in Acting from Cal State Long Beach, and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The recipient of two Fulbright grants, Kelly has taught and studied in Norway, Poland, Italy, Germany, Ghana and Finland.
His production of David Rabe’s Streamers at Chapman University was recently chosen for the American College Theatre Festival (Kennedy Center Region VIII Finals) in St. George, Utah. Other recent directing credits include Our Country’s Good and A Piece of My Heart. You may have recently seen him onstage in South Coast Repertory’s Fences. He has appeared on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and in over thirty of America’s regional theatres.
The Mighty Gents opens Friday, April 16, and runs for 14 performances, closing on Saturday, May 1 in the Players Theatre on the CSULB South Campus, accessible via West Campus Drive.. Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., with Saturday matinees April 24 and May 1 at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $15 for general admission and $12 for seniors and students (with valid ID). For tickets and information, please call (562) 985-5526 or visit www.csulb.edu/depts/theatre.