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'Heavy Is The Rain' debuts at Hopkins

Play tells story of childhood trauma against a backdrop of Baltimore in the 1940s to 1960s

4/22/2016, 9 a.m.
Unified Voices (UV) of Johns Hopkins presents the highly anticipated stage play, “Heavy Is The Rain” from April 22, 2016 ...
Award-winning artist Brandi Dyer, plays the role of adult “Billie” in "Heavy Is The Rain"

Unified Voices (UV) of Johns Hopkins presents the highly anticipated stage play, “Heavy Is The Rain” from April 22, 2016 to April 24, 2016 at Johns Hopkins’ Turner Auditorium located at 720 Rutland Avenue in Baltimore. The stage play is based on Stella Adams’ breakout novel on life, lust and love in “back in the day” Baltimore. The production has a dynamic cast of over thirty actors and singers and is directed by Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch under the musical direction of Minister William A.D. Hamilton of Kingdom Worship Center.

Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch, executive director of Unified Voices and director of the stage play.

Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch, executive director of Unified Voices and director of the stage play.

Set against the backdrop of Baltimore and South Carolina, with live music from the 40s, 50s and 60s, Heavy Is The Rain explores themes of physical, sexual and emotional abuse. From the front porch of a South Carolina home to a juke joint in Baltimore City, the play centers around the story’s main characters “Billie Cunningham” and her friend “Thomas McNeal, Jr.,” and the effects this trauma has had on their childhood, and now their adult lives.

Author/playwright Stella Adams

Author/playwright Stella Adams

“I loved writing "Heavy Is The Rain" because I was able to tell the difficult story of Billie and Thomas, and portray Baltimore as it was from the 1940s to 1960s,” said author and now playwright Stella Adams. “The story tackles difficult subject matters, but I believe the book, and now the play will help those who are emotionally, mentally and physically scarred by rape, incest and domestic violence. I am excited to see this production matriculate from a novel to a stage play.”

Dr. Branch, who is the executive director of Unified Voices, added, “The purpose of this production is to spread hope, health, and healing through harmony at Hopkins. People can expect to laugh, cry, and most of all, to be uplifted as Hopkins turns into the Hippodrome. I’m excited about the fact that the play illustrates how God can bring us through any situation. I am encouraging everyone to come out as you will be changed by this production.”

Brandi Dyer, an award-winning artist who attended high school in Baltimore and went on to study at the New York Film Academy, plays the role of “Billie” in her adult years. “Playing the role of adult Billie helped me to understand how a child’s life can be damaged by abuse and molestation,” she said. “This role was life-changing for me.”

Born in Winnsboro, South Carolina, author Stella Adams grew up in Baltimore. She graduated from Morgan State University with a degree in history and received a master’s degree from Towson State University. Adams worked for the government in a number of analytical, human resources, and managerial positions for over thirty years. Heavy is the Rain is her first novel.

Gregory Wm. Branch, M.D., MBA, CPE, FACP, is a board-certified Internist who is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Unified Voices. In addition to Heavy Is The Rain, he has also directed A Raisin in The Sun, Dreamgirls, Spelling Bee, Steel Magnolias, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Little Shop of Horrors, The Teachers’ Lounge, DisChord in The Choir, and My Big Phat Ghetto FABULE$$ Wedding. Dr. Branch serves as the Director of Health and Human Services of Baltimore County. He is a member of Huber Memorial Church.

Tickets are $15. Seating is General, with doors opening 30 minutes before the performance. For more information or to purchase tickets call 410-955-8888 or visit www.unifiedvoices.com.