On Sunday the 25th of August in 2013; Enon Baptist Church hosted an exclusive theatrical musical performance titled “Prelude to a Dream,” which was presented by The March Civil Rights Opera Project to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington. It was the biggest theatrical musical performance of this summer in Baltimore, Maryland. Who knew one religious establishment could hold so much electrifying acting talent in one building. According to Alan Marshall, The March Civil Rights Opera Project is a one stop shop that drives an artistic vehicle of African American opera singers into the trailblazing path toward the depth and complexity of the African American experience.
When asked why devote your career to civil rights? “I wanted to honor those who have sacrificed for the freedom that I’ve had,” said Alan Marshall.
The production is called “A Prelude to a Dream,” which is the fourth installment of the mass meetings performed by The March Civil Rights Opera Project. The background is 1963; the plot is an imagined recollection of the stories of everyday Americans during a town hall style meeting on the eve before the March on Washington. The performance definitely delivered the hype of sharing the experience from the final planning for the march and the people planning to attend the march.
Alan Marshall is the director and Tara O’Connor is the Assistant Director of this mass meeting performance. Did you know? Alan also wrote and starred as the lead character Bayard Rustin at the Baltimore location of the play. One of the coolest part of this event was the testimony that Alan give of his grandmother which included her upbringing him in Enon Baptist Church, he went on to cry recalling the memories of fun play in the church as a child.
Just before the play started Marshall told the audience to take note that he was not the best of actors and the actor originally cast to play Bayard Rustin missed his flight. I can honestly say Alan Marshall did an excellent job playing Bayard Rustin especially his deliverance of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream speech at the end of the play. This is production that is destined to be just as big and infamous as plays such as The Color Purple and Lion King.
Besides the fact, all the actors and actresses from the play were outstanding. You should know the music from the “A Prelude to a Dream” production was the best so, harmonious and dramatic. The music really helped mold the depth and complexity of that living in the moment experience. Although several actors from the play sung songs, Jo Anne Clark-Booker was the lead songstress and her performance was outstanding. The musical score playlist included the following songs:
- “We Shall Not Be Moved”
- “This Little Light of Mine”
- “Everybody Wants Freedom”
- “We are Soldiers”
- “Go tell it on the Mountain”
- “Amazing Grace”
- “Do not Pass me By”
- “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around”
- “Oh, Freedom”
I’m not going into a detailed account of the play because, this is a performance you have to see and experience for yourself. There were sixteen multiple raced actors and actresses in the play which brought such a lively effect to the plot at hand.
However, the moral of the story for me was the performance of Eric Pfaff. Eric played a racist white guy named Roy James, whose storyline stated he was arrested for assaulting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Although, he did not stay arrested it was interesting to know he decided to attend a pre-meeting before the March on Washington and cause havoc on the attendees. It was also very interesting, witnessing the rationale behind his character’s racist demeanor such clarity and insight into the mind of a racist and racism. Bravo, to the whole cast of “A Prelude to a Dream.”
After the performance, the Minister of Enon Baptist Church told the audience that Marshall spent $170,000 of his own money to get “A Prelude to a Dream” into production and it’s my understanding the production is in need of future funding. This opera is so well worth seeing and donating to. For more ways in which you can help such a historical and worthy cause, click here.