Story and Photos By Omar Reyes/Staff Writer/@salar0895
Lights have been tested, makeup has been applied and actors are into position for “The Great White Hope” that opened on Thursday, March 10.
The play that won a Pulitzer Prize, Drama Critics and Tony Award centers on African-American heavyweight boxer Jack Jefferson, based on real life boxer Jack Johnson, who tries to deal with prejudice and racism for being in a relationship with a white woman during the early 1900s.
“I hope the audience can see how far America has come and appreciate Jack Johnson and what he did,” said Paige Laney, 23, a theater arts major.
Contributing in the play as assistant stage manager, Laney said, “The play sends a great message as well as shining a light on racism. We all need equality because without it, it’s chaos.”
One of the characters in the play is Goldie, who is played by Jason Bowe, 35, a theatre arts major, whom Bowe describes as a “terrific character.”
Bowe said, “Goldie really cares for Jack and is truly invested in his career. Goldie follows Jack around the world and looks out for him despite the dire circumstances Jack finds himself in.”
On the play, Bowe said, “I feel the play is important because it deals with issues of race and it takes a good look in our racial history as well as being just a great story. It feels good to play someone who is fighting for justice in any way he can.”
Professor and director Greg Mortensen said the production of the play has been in rehearsal since Feb. 7.
In the director’s notes of the play program, Mortensen wrote, “The incidents portrayed in this play happened approximately a century ago. Yet the issues of racism, hate, prejudice, epic stupidity and the absence of love are all in the ‘here and now.’”
Walter Brandon, 35, a theatre arts major, who portrays Jefferson, said “The play deals with a lot of social issues like racism while being a love story between two people who society says shouldn’t be together.”
Brandon described his performance of Jefferson as a “hybrid” between James Earl Jones’ performance of the character in the 1970 film Johnson.
Brandon, who lost 25 pounds for the role, said, “I was invested in the role and we all worked together because we wanted to bring the story to life.”
On the play itself, Brandon said, “I just want audience to be moved by the play, one way or another. I want them to feel for the characters and get their money’s worth.”
“The Great White Hope” performance dates are March 10-12 and 17-19 in the LBCC Auditorium. Thursday and Friday showtime are at 8 p.m. and Saturday showtimes are 2 and 7:30 p.m.
Tickets may be purchased online at lbcc.edu/performingarts or by calling (866) 811-4111
General admission is $17. Students, employees and senior admission pay $12. No admission will be allowed for people under 15. Free parking is available in Lots D, E and F.