“The Best Man Holiday” arrives in theaters amid profound anticipation and excitement

The cast of The Best Man Holiday.

The cast of The Best Man Holiday.

By Carmen Glover
A legion of fans have waited with bated breath for the sequel to the romantic comedy, “The Best Man” to hit the big screen. The wait is officially over as “The Best Man Holiday” opened nationwide this weekend to long lines as eager movie patrons reunite with their favorite characters. Fourteen years after the original movie debuted in theaters, all of the characters are back, delivering solid acting and tackling material that runs the gamut of emotions.

When the film’s director, Malcolm D. Lee, addressed the National Association of Black Journalists Convention in Florida this past summer, he disclosed that he “did not want to rush” and create a sequel that lacked meaning. He explained at the time that he felt it was important to tell a story that reflected growth and substance in the characters. “I wanted to wait until the characters had grown before I did a sequel,” he said. He also shared what drove him to the sequel. “The desire to see marriage on the screen was my inspiration for this movie,” he explained.

The cast of The Best Man Holiday.

The cast of The Best Man Holiday.

The movie is well worth the wait. The main characters have enjoyed success in the intervening years and they bring the full scope of their acting skills to “The Best Man Holiday,” which deals with more serious subjects than the original film. The sequel reunites the characters at the home of Lance (Morris Chestnut), who is now playing in the NFL for the Giants, and his wife Mia (Monica Calhoun). Naturally, when old friends get together, it’s a mixed bag of emotions, some overt, others covert.

It is refreshing to see an ensemble cast of characters who are able to reprise their roles easily and deliver an entertaining and thought-provoking medley of scenes that reinforces the long-held belief that if African-American actors are given the opportunity and script to bring an important story to life, they are more than capable of delivering with panache. Do yourselves a favor and go see this movie so that you can reconnect with the nostalgia of the past while you embrace the realities and new adventures that abound in “The Best Man Holiday.”–OnPointPress.net

Spectacular delivery in “Mama I Want to Sing: The Next Generation”

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Ahmaya Knoelle Higginson, the lead character in the Mama revival.

By Carmen Glover

Harlem’s Dempsey Theater was packed on Saturday, October 26 as Mama I Want to Sing:The Next Generation made its debut to an appreciative and supportive audience.  A revival of the memorable 1983 gospel musical Mama I want to Sing, the play is co-written by the Vy Higginsen and her husband Ken Wydro. It describes the journey of Doris Troy, Higginsen’s older sister, who overcame her mother’s objections to her decision to leave her gospel roots, follow her heart and seek musical fulfillment as a contemporary singer.

Troy excelled and recorded the 1963 hit “Just One Look” which catapulted her to a successful career that allowed her to work with a staple of mega-stars such as the Beatles, James Brown and The Rolling Stones. Mama is currently celebrating 30 years of performances and 25 years of shows in Japan. The play will travel to Japan for December and January, 2014. “On December 1 we will be leaving for Japan and we will play there for six weeks, celebrating 25 years in Japan and 30 years in New York City,” Higginsen said as she acknowledged Japanese audience members, some of whom were filming the performance.

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Elijah Ahmad Lewis renders an enjoyable delivery as the choir’s director of music.

The revival leaps out the gate with the choir’s high octane singing and musical direction by the irrepressible minister of music, hilariously played by Elijah Ahmad Lewis, whose physical contortions and telling expressions generated their own fan base. The play is narrated by Higginsen, who infuses the right mixture of excitement and solemnity depending on what is being described. Tyrone Flowers and Bettina Dowtin render credible performances as the Reverend and Mama Winter while Sandra Huff is entertaining as Sister Carrie. But the show belonged unquestionably to the lead, played in outstanding form by Ahmaya Knoelle Higginson, Troy’s niece.

Higginson is expressive, vulnerable, charming, witty, defiant and extraordinary as she embodies the different emotions demanded by the role. She delivers, every time, with aplomb. Higginson uses her voice as an instrument capable of a myriad of ranges, peaks and valleys, carrying the audience along an exquisite and rapturous thrill ride that envelopes patrons in a cocoon of sheer joy. She sings with such unadulterated ease, communicating her emotions so eloquently that she instantly becomes the focus of immense good will; the person that everyone roots for; the heroine everyone wants to not just succeed, but shine.

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(L-r) Sandra Huff (Sister Carrie), Ahmaya Knoelle Higginson (Doris) and Elijah Ahmad Lewis (Minister of Music) join fellow cast members in the closing scene.

Mama I Want to Sing: The Next Generation describes ambition, heartache, rebellion, faith and the fierce determination that is only seen in individuals who ignore potential pitfalls while focusing firmly on their passion and life purpose. 

For tickets and other information please contact the Mama Foundation for the Arts’ Box Office at (212)-280-1045 or visit mamafoundation.org – OnPointPress.net