Hip Hop in Lake Forest? Yes, Hip Hop in Lake Forest!- leave it to Citadel Theatre Company to host the Midwest Premiere of Idris Goodwin’s “coming of Age” play, in hip-hop form in their cozy little Nnorth Shore home at Lake Forest High School. This is a hidden treasure as far as theater companies, one that once found by audiences becomes a steady attraction. They find solid local talent and fear nothing. Who would have thought that a story about teens finding their voice through “rap” would premiere in of all places, Lake Forest. The story itself is about two teen age boys, one Black, Hank ( deftly handled by Johnard Washington) and the other Brown, Julian ( a strong performance by Robert Salzar).- these are “city” boys, who it turns out attended the same basketball camp, who moved from the city to the “hill” ( representing the suburbs).
They are both in love with “rap” and each feels that they hold the power to captivate. As it turns out, Hank is the rhymer and Julian the performer and in a contest, in which Hank feels he cannot lose, he does, but what happens from this point is the two young men feeling that they can become one in searching and reaching for their dream. Do they want stardom? Probably yes, but as the story goes on, it is far more about relationship building and friendship. Think back to your youth! The dreams you had but those around you kept putting obstacles in your way. Your parents were to busy, your teachers only wanted you to do your work. It was your friends who encouraged you and even when you did not reach the goals you set, you still had some good feelings about who you were. This story takes place in the 1980’s- “rap” was new and to many, scary!
Citadel is a very intimate space and there is no curtain, so we see the set from the moment we enter the auditorium- this is a set made up of speakers and an upper level MC station ( A. J. Tarzian has kept it simple but practical). The lights dim after we listed to about 13 warm-up minutes of the music and in comes The selector, a charming DJ/MC played to perfection by Celeste M. Cooper. She is the power that makes this show truly special as she stands above the crowd, playing everyone that is not Hank, Julian or Luann ( another student who becomes the third voice as the boys find that they cannot do it alone).
We all know that we do not always have success in all of the endeavors we attempt. When we fail, we have options. Quit! Try again, but learn from the errors of the first attempt!. That is what the story is about. We all have our own identity and we all must find our own voice, but it sure helps if we have friends that are there to help us pick ourselves up and get back on the bike when we fall. Goodwin, a spoken word performer ( I guess that is what “Rappers” are called) is able to present his ideas well and under the direction of Josh Sobel, the audience, both young and old, White,Black and Brown were entranced by the soul of the story and the solid cast. The technical portions of the show were the “icing on the cake”- Walter Sargent( Sound), Jared Gooding(lights),Constance Lee ( costumes), Alberto Ruiz ( props) and Levenix Riddle ( choreography/fight director- great work.
“How We Got On” will continue at Lake Forest High School- West Campus at 300 S. Waukegan Rd ( just South of Route 60) through October 20th with performances as follows:
Thursdays at 8 P.m.
Fridays at 8 p.m.
Sundays at 3 p.m.
Special Wednesday matinee on October 16th at 1 p.m.
The play is 85 minutes ( no intermission) and you will find it riveting.
Tickets range from $35 to $37.50 with discounts for Seniors and studentts, Order them at 847-735-8554 or online at www.citadeltheatre.org where you can also see the remaining schedule for this season
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “How We Got On”
Plenty of free parking and you can bring a coffee with you.