BRING IN THE MORNING
Adaptation and lyrics by Herb Schapiro; Music by Gary William Friedman; Based on and inspired by contributors to Poets in Public Services, Inc. and other material
Variety Arts Theatre, Off-Broadway - April 23, 1994 (51 perfs)
Bring In The Morning celebrates adolescence with the music of the 90s and the poems, stories and writings of the youth of today. It chronicles a multi-racial universe of kids aged from 13 to their early 20s -youth filled with the joy of life as well as its all too early burdens and heartache. With children growing up faster than ever, this musical celebrates their amazing resilience and enthusiasm with humour, pathos and a score that ranges from reggae to rap, from gospel to contemporary pop.
Synopsis & Cast
Cast: 5 men, 6 women
Cougar, the central character of this piece, announces at the outset, "This is the ghetto of my mind." As such, this work represents a collage of impressions, a montage of emotions, evoking more of the inner lives of our characters, and taking us beyond the familiar literal realities of the TV Late News, and audience preconceptions. He is joined by the rest of the cast who comment on the sorry state of life as it exists today. They all wish that things could change and they could get away from things like AIDS, crime, poverty, etc. All the characters in this revue-like show dream of a better time and place - though they have to face the harsh realities of life around them. There is a great sense of irony with the situations here - a promising life for everyone in contrast to the harsh realities at hand. These kids only have their imagination to see them through - that is their only hope. However, in the end, imagination can do quite a lot!
Cougar is strong-minded, sensitive. He is a twenty-year-old African-American, something of a loner who is now drifting, angry at the conditions around him and at this own inability to accomplish, as head of a household, what needs to be done for his younger sister, Alicia; for his working mother; for his own son in foster care; and for his girl, Lakesha. He knows the drug scene inside and out - as a user, then as a pusher, and as a reformed dropout. He is trying to help his friends, Roberto and Jamal, from getting caught in its snares.
Alicia, a fifteen-year-old African-American girl, is already beginning to wonder, after the death of her father in a factory accident and the recent changes in Cougar's mood and manner, whether she's a kid any more. She is aware and questioning, and holds on to her capacity to dream of better things. Her most active concerns are her brother, Cougar, and her membership in the church choir, where she is a standout performer. Others appreciate her studious and playful nature, and the freshness she has managed to hold on to.
Lakesha, an eighteen-year-old African-American, is spirited, talented, and speaks her mind - no matter what. She is determined to be herself and knows that she can be with the divas on the charts, and she is not modest about proclaiming it. She is sustained in her ambition by Cougar, who also takes care of her need for flashy clothes and jewellry in keeping with her image of herself. Her anxiety regarding her boyfriend and his now apparent coolness towards her will not stand in the way of her driving determination to be somebody.
Roberto, a seventeen-year-old Hispanic, is actually very feeling and is even somewhat of a dreamer who will risk anything for his girl and his friends. This is all beneath his very street-smart demeanor. He has real difficulty balancing his romantic nature and the new life he has found in the drug trafficking of the neighbourhood. His true affection for his love, Inez, pregnant with his child, will always weigh considerably in any decision he now has to make.
Inez, a sixteen-year-old Hispanic girl, is intense and gritty. She is a survivor, seemingly touched, but never crude. She finds herself caught between the demands of her family that she stay away from Roberto since he is considered "not their kind," and the fact that she is pregnant by him. Though often her rough manner may suggest otherwise, she has done some reading and some serious thinking, and can share her ideas readily, with Cindy especially.
Jamal, an eighteen-year-old African American, has seemed to have lost his bearings following the breakup of his family, his father's unemployment, and his sister's disappearance. His basic intelligence and artistic nature will be hidden by his easy cynicism, and he also finds escape in drugs. He is already something of a drifter, but retains beneath it all, a boyishness, more and more buried.
Hector, a fifteen-year-old Hispanic, looks to the big boys, playing up to them, especially since he's trying to escape being a kid. He thinks a lot about basketball and girls; jams with the best of them, dancing up a storm at the slightest opportunity. He has a kind of wacky charm about him, which kind of makes him a kind of happy mascot to the others.
Cindy is a sixteen-year-old Asian who, though feeling somewhat isolated at times through her Asian ancestry, is determined to be accepted on her own terms. Sharp and observant, she tries to put her family's ideas about traditional women’s roles in perspective, as she persists in discovering her own possibilities, and her life outside the family store, as an outsider among outsiders. She can become a source of support and understanding for the others, a true friend, as she continues to define herself.
Nelson is a seventeen-year-old White boy who is something of a clown. He enjoys calling attention to himself, and especially, to his playing the stud. The others know he talks a good game, mostly, and he himself, in quieter moments, suspects it. As a jokester, he works to mask his family problems, involving a father gone, and a retarded kid brother he often has to take care of.
These characters work together in monologue and song - dreaming of a
new day for all people when life can be without suffering and pain.
flute db. tenor sax, percussion, keyboard I (piano), keyboard II (synthesizer), guitar (electric/acoustic), double bass db. bass guitar