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Center Stage concludes 2014 season with ‘Wild with Happy’

Ursula V. Battle | 6/20/2014, 6 a.m.
Center Stage wraps up its 2014 season with the heartwarming comedy “Wild with Happy,” by award-winning playwright Colman Domingo.
Forrest McClendon (Gil) and Stephanie Berry (Aunt Glo). (Photo: Richard Anderson)

— The production runs through June 29, 2014, and closes out a very successful, critically acclaimed season at Center Stage.

“We loved this heartwarming comedy when we saw it with Colman at the Public Theater,” said Center Stage Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah. “Colman Domingo is an incredible talent, as both a performer and as a writer, and I’m excited to conclude our season on this joyous note.”

The run of “Wild with Happy” at Center Stage, represents the Baltimore premiere of the new comedy. Directed by Jeremy B. Cohen, the show opened June 4. Leading the cast is Forrest McClendon as the grief-stricken “Gil.” Facing the loss of his mother, a breakup, and a stalled acting career, Gil isn’t inclined to believe in “Happily Ever After.” However, through an unexpected road trip, he finds love.

“Audiences are leaving happy and ecstatic,” said Kwei-Armah. “A son is coming to terms with his mother's passing. Wild with Happy is filled with love, laughter and so much heart. We have gotten some really great reviews. People really love this production.”

According to Kwei-Armah, “Wild with Happy” has drawn great reviews from broadwayworld.com, and other entertainment media.

McClendon has appeared in numerous regional productions, and was a Tony Award nominee for his role in The Scottsboro Boys.

Playing Gil’s outrageous “Aunt Glo” along with the spirit of his recently passed mother, is Stephanie Berry. Berry’s many credits include Broadway and regional productions, as well as her award-winning one-woman show, The Shaneequa Chronicles: The Making of a Black Woman in New York.

James Ijames made his Center Stage debut as sensitive funeral director “Terry” while Chivas Michael made his first appearance there as Gil’s riotous best friend “Mo.” Both are on hand to help Gil deal with his grief through love and laughter. Ijames has appeared in numerous regional productions, and is the recipient of two Barrymore Awards for his work at Arden Theatre and Wilma Theatre. Michael has appeared Off Broadway at Classic Stage Company, Lincoln Center, and the Public, as well as regionally.

Cohen is the Producing Artistic Director of the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis, and previously served as the Associate Artistic Director and Director of New Play Development Hartford Stage from 2003 to 2010. Cohen is also the Founding Artistic Director of Naked Eye Theatre Company in Chicago.

Center Stage worked with several community partners, including the Baltimore Center for Black Equity, Baltimore Gay Life, and the Baltimore Queer Film Festival.

Along with the run of “Wild with Happy,” Center Stage is also featuring “Global Sister Cities,” a video installation examining the role of art in the civic sphere. “Global Sister Cities” is on display in the Deering Lobby, and showcases international artists’ filmed reflections of their own cities and explores subjects ranging from post-industrial trauma to the ability of dance to help heal communities.

“Global Sister Cities” is Center Stage’s newest Fourth Space initiative. The Fourth Space is Center Stage's digital initiative dedicated to the exploration of the intersection of technology, media, and the performing arts.

Center Stage is supported by a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC).

“We are looking forward to our next season,” said Kwei-Armah. “Next season, Amadeus, It’s a Wonderful Life, Next to Normal, and many other exciting productions will be performed at Center Stage. We are very excited about going into a new season with a new set of plays. We want to give our audiences a good time. We are looking forward to taking them on that journey.”

Located at 700 N. Calvert Street in the Mt. Vernon area, Center Stage is an artistically driven institution, and focuses on civic and community engagement.

For more information about Wild with Happy or Center Stage, call (410) 332-0033 or visit www.centerstage.org.