South Florida actor and producer Teddy Harrell Jr. has had his trials trying to bring live theater to the Liberty City area. Since he founded the African American Performing Arts Community Theater (AAPACT) -- which, despite the "Community" in its name, is a professional company -- in 2002, he has presented some good productions of intriguing and/or important shows -- including Athol Fugard's The Island, August Wilson's King Hedley II, Laurence Fishburne's Riff Raff, the musical Once on This Island. But sometimes, the folks onstage have outnumbered those in the audience.
Next week, Harrell will try again with a production of Bill Harris' Stories About the Old Days. The play features John Pryor (right), a retired director and teacher who directed more than 90 productions in his 34-year career, mostly spent at Miami Dade College's North Campus.
His costar is Gail Willingham (left), an actress who performed alongside Harrell last year in a production (by the BeBop Theatre Collective) of Phillip Hayes Dean's Sty of the Blind Pig. Both actors play seniors who meet at a soon-to-be-closed church and wind up telling each other stories about the old days -- and about how the blues shaped their lives. Andre L. Gainey directs the show.
As he always has, Harrell is offering a free preview of the show at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27. There's an additional preview Feb. 28, a show with a talk-back Feb. 29, then the gala opening at 7:30 p.m. March 1. The show runs weekends through March 16 in the Wendell Narcisse Theatre at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, 6161 NW 22nd Ave. in Miami. Tickets are just $20 ($25 for the gala) -- for the talk-back show, the first 50 people to reserve get in for $5. So how about filling up those seats?
For info, call the theater at 305-638-6771 or visit AAPACT on the web.