"Let a Big Black Lady Stop the Show!"

Categories: Theater

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Capathia Jenkins from "Newsies." Photo: Walter McBride

That's a song Capathia Jenkins (above) sang in Broadway's Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me a few years ago, spoofing the way so many musicals rely on a plus-size African American powerhouse to save the evening with a big, belty number.

And naturally, she stopped the show as she sang it.

And she's at it again.

Capathia is one of the highlights of Newsies, playing Medda Larkin, the chanteuse who helps the (very) striking boys, even serving up a lyric that's the Disney show's single racy reference.

(But she also plays a nun. Lordy, there's a lot of religion on Broadway's heathen stages these days!)

And that's not all the big, black, female wailing this season.

In Ghost: The Musical, DaVine Joy Randolph plays Oda Mae Brown, the Whoopi Goldberg fake psychic character whose mission is to inject life into the afterlife.

And over at Leap of Faith--yep, more religiosity--we go from Oda Mae to Ida Mae because I hear there happens to be a gospelicious character named Ida Mae Sturdevant, played by Kecia Lewis-Evans.

Three of anything makes for a trend.

Four would make it amazing, so I'm publicly urging the ladies over at Porgy and Bess to start packing on more poundage.

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Kecia Lewis-Evans from "Leap of Faith." Photo: Walter McBride

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Da'Vine Joy Randolph from "Ghost." Photo: WalterMcBride

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11 comments
VonLmo
VonLmo

Yes,in fact the Medda Larkin role, when Newsies played @Papermill Playhouse, was casted by a skinny white showgirl. I trust this is all due to Queen Latifa's boffo performance in Chicago.

Hello Central Casting, gemme a Big Fat Black Momma.

Starla
Starla

Yes, we know. But I believe Musto's pointing out that there have been four in a row, which is rare.

Dan
Dan

This subjugation/celebration has been going on regularly since 1933. That's why the song was funny in Fame Becomes Me.

billyjoe
billyjoe

I'm glad someone made a song about this observation. Near my home in Evanston, IL, they still do the same thing at a nationally renowned (for theater) university's annual student variety show featuring a mostly white cast with token minorities. The black women are always given solos in which they play either a big-boned blues mamas or struggling domestics. And of course their baiting stop-the-show performances always trigger big ole full-of-guilt-ridden standing ovations from the audience.

Musto
Musto

I've been reminded that NaTasha Yvette Williams does fit the bill in Porgy and Bess. Congrats to her. We now have four showstoppers.

freddiemessina
freddiemessina

There also has been a swarm of lovable,skinny,white boys in leads.

Bangers
Bangers

Why don't I want to see any of these shows?

Intestique
Intestique

Yes, that would be a great ending!

Southern Dave
Southern Dave

Too bad Blanche in the black "Streetcar" can't tell the doc who comes to fetch her,"And I Am Telling You, I'm  Not Going!"

Grammarian
Grammarian

The past tense of "to cast" is "cast." Carry on.

Punkeisha
Punkeisha

Aren't there always skinny white boys in leads? Yawn.

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