Musical brings words of Martin Luther King Jr. to life

In this scene from “I Have a Dream” The Musical from TheatreSouth Atlanta, city official Bull Conner enforces segregation policies by arresting marchers during a 1963 civil rights demonstration in Birmingham, Ala. UMNS Photo by Yonnick Jones.
In this scene from “I Have a Dream” The Musical from TheatreSouth Atlanta, city official Bull Conner enforces segregation policies by arresting marchers during a 1963 civil rights demonstration in Birmingham, Ala. UMNS Photo by Yonnick Jones.

After Brigitte Keane met Herman LeVern Jones, founder of TheatreSouth Atlanta, at a global humanitarian summit in Atlanta and saw one of his performances, she realized he might be a good partner to help her fulfill a personal vision. Keane, a lay member of the United Methodist New York Annual (regional) Conference, moved to the Miami area about three years ago and wanted to give something with a social justice message to her new community. She became a supporter of the touring production of “I Have a Dream” The Musical from TheatreSouth Atlanta, which celebrates the civil rights movement and historical figure of Martin Luther King Jr. The gospel musical by Josh Greenfield debuted on Broadway in 1976 with Billy Dee Williams portraying King. Participants from at least 10 different churches, as well as schools and other organizations, became involved in the show, Keane said. The cast includes both professional actors and community residents, along with the Martin Luther King Jr. Youth Choir from Second Baptist Church in Miami. “If you have to learn history, this is how you should learn it,” she added. “It’s very interactive.” A former missionary for the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries mission initiative in Cambodia, Keane herself is a cast member and a co-producer. The musical’s short run, which featured several morning matinees for students, opened Jan. 9 at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, followed by a gala event Jan. 11. Additional performances are set for Jan. 19 at Florida International University- Modesto Maidique Campus and Jan. 24 at Phichol Williams Community Center in Homestead. One of Keane’s own dreams is to help the musical go on tour. United Methodist churches, organizations or annual conferences seeking more information can contact her at brigittekeane@gmail.com. The Miami production has demonstrated the show can elicit an “incredible community response” to share the prophetic words of Martin Luther King, Jr. on issues of peace and justice, she noted. “It’s intergenerational, it’s powerful, I think it’s the message we need,” Keane said.

*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service multimedia reporter based in New York. Follow her at https://twitter.com/umcscribe contact her at (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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