By Joel Hall
In the tradition of Tyler Perry's plays on religious topics, Living Faith Tabernacle in Forest Park hopes that its first, major, gospel play will bring people to hear the word of God in an untraditional way.
On Nov. 16, at 7:30 p.m., "Love Under New Management," will show for one night only at the Clayton County Performing Arts Center, located at 2530 Mt. Zion Parkway in Jonesboro. The play was written and will be directed by the church's home school administrator, Annetta Swift.
It will feature musical performances from Pastor Willie Whitaker and One Voice, Minister Mark Morton and Worship Experience, and ShanRaé Price-Owens, sister of R&B and soul singer, Kelly Price.
The play is about a prominent lawyer, named Lavern, who for more than 20 years, has lived with, and had five children with, Daryl, a successful music producer. In all those years, however, Lavern and Daryl have never gotten married.
Having recently found Christianity, Lavern's cohabitation lifestyle begins to conflict with her morals, and she eventually has to make a choice between following God and staying in a comfortable relationship.
"She has to choose who she loves the most," said Swift. "This is a real issue. There are so many messages in the play, but the main thing that I want people to get is that, with God at the head of your life, everything will fall into place."
There is a full cast of characters, ranging from saintly to sinful, including Felicia, an instigator who gives Lavern bad advice while secretly desiring Daryl. And there is Sister Sandie, a scripture-quoting, overly-religious character, who has biblical solutions to every problem.
"Everything about this play is about things that people are going through," said Sabrina Poole, a Living Faith Tabernacle member playing the role of Felicia. "I believe it will leave a positive impact. It really shows that regardless of how many mistakes you have made, God still loves you. He just wants you to come to Him."
Ronda Johnson, a youth counselor for the church, who also plays the role of Sister Sandie, said that, while the play addresses serious topics, it is full of comedy that audiences will enjoy. "We have the right people for the right parts and I think everything is going to flow," said Johnson. "I'm really excited. It's something that you have to experience."
"It's going to be the finale that blows their minds," said Chris Brown, head pastor of Living Faith Tabernacle. "It takes church to the people. It will be a life-changing experience for all who attend ... regardless of their background."
"My goal is to bring hope, laughter, healing, and salvation," said Swift. "Some people won't read the Bible, but they'll read a novel. Some people won't go to church, but they will see a play. My goal is to reach those people."
Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for general seating, and can be purchased at www.ticketweb.com.