Theater

Mahalia: A Gospel Musical

When: Tue., May 29, 8 p.m., Wed., May 30, 8 p.m., Fri., June 1, 5 p.m., Sat., June 2, 5 p.m., Thu., June 7, 8 p.m. and Sun., June 10, 6 p.m. 2012

Gospel girl. Mahalia Jackson was the queen of gospel music and a civil rights motivator. The prolific Columbia Records star hob-nobbed with Martin Luther King Jr. and Al Sharpton. Her much-cherished hits include "Move on Up a Little Higher," "Take My Hand, Precious Lord," and "We Shall Overcome." Mahalia charts the singer's life from her New Orleans upbringing to her part in the battle for racial equality.

Charismatic characters. Local company Art Forms & Theatre Concepts packs a rich life into a song-heavy show (a 2010 CP review described the music as "spine-tingling"). Mahalia's cast give pitch-perfect performances and their humble characters are funny and endearing.

Wonder woman. Mahalia is a woman well worth centering a play around, passionate about her singing, deeply moral, and blessed with an indomitable sense of wonder. Art Forms does her proud in one of its most cohesive shows. Whether you're a gospel fan or not, it's a strong piece of theater with a satisfying social message.

Nick Smith

Price: $25/adults, $20/students and seniors

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