"Black Angels" Tells the Story of the Tuskegee Airmen
Layon Gray brings the Tuskegee Airmen to the stage
Black History month gives African Americans and others of color the opportunity to reflect back on the tales of our ancestry and focus on the current struggles and challenges of people of color in
It seems the world these days has invested in war. Mankind continues to play out an age old battle of one-upmanship wherein no one wins. We teeter on the brink of WWIII with even more sophisticated war tools via nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. High-level aircraft such as the F-117A stealth PT-17 Stearman, BT-13, AT-6 Texan and the P-40 War Hawk,
The Tuskegee Airmen were young men who enlisted at a time when there were many people who thought that black men lacked the intelligence, skill, courage and patriotism to fly planes. In 1941, at a time when the law of the land was “white supremacy,” six Black cadets out of thousands of applicants were determined to become airmen. They entered into basic flight training at Tuskegee Army Air Field, under white Southern military instructors. Nearly 1,000 Black airmen were eventually trained and sent overseas to North Africa and to fly escort planes for whites who flew bomber planes over
Thaddeus Daniels narrates the play introducing the audience to Quenten (Layon Gray); Abe (Thom Scott II); Theodore (Ananias Dixon); Elijah (Delano Barbosa); Jeremiah (Melvin Huggnagle) Percival (David Roberts) and Craig Colasanti as Major Roberts. The cast does a fine job of painting an intimate portrait of each character. Thus, the audience cannot help but be drawn in, feeling the airmen’s pains and joys vicariously.
Playwright and actor Layon Gray does a masterful job in bringing the airmen to life. We love the innocence of the music loving Theodore and the brotherly love between the sickly Quenten and volatile Abe. Melvin Huffnagle as Jeremiah, the no-nonsense recruit, is initially unfriendly, but later learns to love his fellow airmen. Elijah (Barbosa) and Percival (Roberts) are the peacemakers and thread holding the men together. Each shows their strength through their love, vulnerability and via their loyalty. We want to protect them but we can’t. This play is a warm reminder that if you do not know where you came from, you cannot know where you are going. It truly exemplifies the expression: “Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13).
Black Angels Over Tuskegee is inspirational. It’s humorous and memorable. A play if seen before, you want to see again. I suggest you do. Tickets are $36.50 and are available at Telecharge.com or by calling 212/239-6200. Performances are at 8:00 p.m., at the Actors Temple Theater (