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By Timothy Harland
Putting the sizzle in the summer at nearby Horizon Theatre is the world premiere of Darren Canady’s Right On, a soul-filled story with laughter, tears and a funky beat. College activists in the time of Vietnam and the Equal Rights Movement who have traded their picket signs for professions reunite in this funny and powerful comedic drama with a musical backdrop of 70’s funk.
Bella, an activist-turned-business executive, returns to the alma mater where she led protests clad in a dashiki and afro. It is homecoming weekend, and she has returned to make a speech for the university’s women in business organization, and is hoping to get in and out unnoticed. Along for the trip is her Harvard-bound son Kyle, carrying his own demons in his backpack. This homecoming quickly turns into a roller coaster reunion with Bella’s college friends, who have reunited to recreate their black student showcase “Right On!” for a new generation of students. Old flames and rivalries heat up, new challenges arise and Kyle gets a real talk, no jive education about the choices made by the young, gifted and free who set out to turn the tide.
How will they reconcile who they are with who they thought they would become? In the funky groove of Soul Train and Sly, two generations take each other higher in this powerful and funny story of change makers and their legacies.
“‘Right On’ brings together the best of Atlanta’s talent and one of America’s hottest young writers,” said Lisa Adler, Horizon’s Co-Artistic Director. “With veteran director Tom Jones at the helm, music will be the heartbeat of this compelling story about two generations looking back and moving on. This world premiere with an amazing ensemble cast is a perfect fit for Horizon’s 30th year of bringing the best and brightest new playwrights to Atlanta.”
Playwright Darren Canady is a rising star in American theatre who won the American Theatre Critics Association 2012 M. Elizabeth Osborn New Play Award for best emerging playwright, recognizing “Brothers of the Dust,” which premiered in May 2011 at Congo Square Theatre Company in Chicago. “I come from a family that revels in storytelling,” Canady said. “Whether the story was joyful, elegiac, painful or cautionary, I grew up hearing, seeing and listening to family stories that were only told if they could be performed with as much blood, life, exuberance and expressiveness as possible.”
“Right On” runs from Friday, July 18 to Sunday, August 31. Performances are Wednesday through Friday at 8 pm, Saturday at 3 pm and 8:30 pm, and Sunday at 5 pm. Tickets are $20-$30. Tickets and information are available at horizontheatre.com or 404-584-7450. Group discounts are available for parties of 10 or more.