Ain't No Mo' on Broadway gets laughs, provokes thought

Sandy Kenyon Image
Wednesday, December 7, 2022
Ain't No Mo' on Broadway gets laughs, provokes thought
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Lee Daniels, known for "Empire," is bringing Ain't No Mo' to Broadway after a successful run downtown at The Public Theater in 2019. Sandy Kenyon has the story.

NEW YORK -- "Ain't No Mo" combines several different genres. It's a biting satire about life in America after the presidency of Barak Obama that gets big laughs but also provokes much thought.

Producer Lee Daniels, best known for movies and for TV series like "Empire," is bringing the play to Broadway after a successful run downtown at The Public Theater in 2019.

Last week he gathered his cast together for the opening and entertainment reporter Sandy Kenyon was there at the Belasco Theatre.

"Ain't No Mo" is a series of vignettes that the New York Times has called "thrilling" if a bit "bewildering."

Cast member Ebony Marshall-Oliver explained it is based on a simple premise: "What would happen if the U.S. government gave every Black person in America a one-way ticket back to Africa."

Her co-star, Fedna Jacquet, explained further that, "if you don't go, you are transferred into a white person."

No wonder she was astonished at first when she learned of the bold idea.

"I read the script and I was like 'what?' And, I came into the auditions, I was like, 'what are we doing guys?'" Jacquet said.

At the performance Kenyon attended, Jacquet sat in his lap before taking the stage for the first time.

Jacquet explained the audience is allowed to talk back, they're allowed to laugh, they're allowed to stand up and dance."

The play was conceived and written by Jordan E. Cooper.

"We are really just ripping up the ground of the stage," he said. "And breaking the convention of what traditional theater and traditional Broadway is."

He also plays Peaches, the flight attendant who is easing the way for the flight to Africa.

Marchant Davis has the first lines in the first scene of "Ain't No Mo," but back in 2019 he was in the audience at the Public Theater.

"It's like one of those things where you see it, and you're like, 'I need to sit down for a moment,'" Davis said.

He suggested it could be part of a larger trend toward greater diversity on Broadway.

"I mean right down the street we got 'Death of a Salesman' and 'Piano Lesson' is happening, I mean those are revivals of plays," Davis said. "I would like to see more plays like this, but I think this is opening the door for that."

ALSO READ | 'Death of a Salesman' actors discuss where they found the inspiration for their roles

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