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"I Dance upstairs tonight.”
That simple and somewhat cryptic statement by one of the women in the new production, “Nylons,” aptly sums up the conflict some of the characters face.
“Upstairs,” though never seen, is where the dancers strut their stuff “au natural.” It is also where the best money can be made.
But, there is a price the characters—including a married diva, a gifted bartender and a struggling beauty—might have to pay for leaving the conventional and romantic dances downstairs for the excitement of upstairs.
“Nylons” is the fifth production written by the Compton-born, Moreno-Valley raised playwright Brandi Burks, and follows on the heels of the critically successful “Shhh . . . Quiet as Kept.”
Burks said she was inspired to write Nylons because, “My last four plays have been based on gospel story lines. I feel like the religious people already have a solid foundation, and it's time that I reach out to the world no matter what religion or creed. I decided to get risky with “Nylons” and deliver a message that everyone should be aware of.
“Nylons are universal from the office to the church to the night clubs. Nylons range from plain to lace to fishnet and everything in between. Going from Gospel based plays to “Nylons” is a way to show my creativity and versatility as a playwright.”
Prior to this latest stage venture, Burks penned and produced “Shhh . . . Quiet As Kept,” in 2009; “Men Cry Too” in 2008; and “Come Sunday” in 2006 and 2010. A 2005 production at the Los Angeles Theatre Center in downtown Los Angeles, “This is Not My Destiny” which sold out every night of the show, began the up-and-coming young playwright’s string of successful productions.
The NAACP theater awards even recognized her talents with a nomination in 2006 for “Come Sunday.”
Actors in Burks’ new production are a mixture of people who are veterans of her plays and newcomers.
Chimere Polk, who plays the lead role of Flossy and is marking her third appearance in a Burks’ production, is a Shreveport, LA, native introduced to acting as a young child growing up in Dallas, Texas.
Polk has also had the opportunity to appear on stage in theatrical works and musicals as well as in indie films such as “Rappas” and “The 1st and the 15th.”
Donisha Brumfield, who plays Raquel, is a veteran of all four of Burks’ plays. A talented performer, who began singing in church at age 3, she has appeared with such musicals greats at Kirk Franklin and the Family and Stevie Wonder. She is also a member of a 15-year-old sign language ministry—Hands to the Lord. The group has traveled and performed worldwide.
Vincent M. Ward portrays the role of Kenzo. A Dayton, Ohio, native, Ward is a versatile actor and has played stage, television and movie roles that range from drug dealer to pastor.
Like her last production, Burks has also included live music, and the musical director for this show is veteran Cedric Lilly.
Lilly has more than 20 years of experience behind him and has performed with musicians including Roy Hargrove, Latoiya Williams, Vesta, Yo Yo, Bobby Brown and the Greater Los Angeles Cathedral Choir.
“Nylons” appears at Stage 52 one weekend. Friday Feb. 25, the show goes on stage at 8 p.m. One Feb. 26, there are shows at 4 and 8 p.m., and Feb.27 the curtain goes up at 3 and 7 p.m.
Tickets are $30 in advance, and $35 at the door. They can be purchased in advance online at www.brownpapertickets.com. Additional information is available by calling (323) 600-7402.
Stage 52 is located at 5299 W. Washington Blvd. in Los Angeles.