“I put one hat on and I take the other one off,” said Felicia Brown, founder of Mahaqni Sophisticated Looks, a beauty empire based in the Miami area.
Brown juggles a lot of roles as a single mom, entrepreneur, hair stylist, make-up artist, instructor and playwright.
With her favorite role being a mother and her second favorite being a teacher, Brown has toured the country, educating stylists and giving back to her community. Not only has Brown helped over 500 cosmetologists get their licenses, but in June 2009, she also launched a non-profit organization to empower young people in education and in the arts, called Nickles for Our Youth. Nickles teaches its students about hair styling, make-up artistry, fashion design, acting, modeling and theater production.
One of Brown and Nickles’ major projects is a gospel play called Hair Drama: It Could Get Nappy, which played to a large audience at the Joseph Caleb Center Auditorium in Miami on Saturday, March 27. I assumed a play called Hair Drama would be a juicy production about a hair salon with major drama. What I got was a fledgling play with colorful outfits, killer shoes, half of a plot, and cheap laughs.
With the level of respect that Brown has earned and the way that this play entertained many of its audience members, I really wanted to like it. Unfortunately, there were many different hats, if you will, which hindered this play’s success.
“The message of Hair Drama is don’t give up. The road is long, but it’s bright at the end of the tunnel,” said Brown, a former Miami police officer who hopes to break into the entertainment industry with her hair care products and make-up artistry talents.
Brown seems to have plenty of talent in hair care, make-up, and fashion.
Regrettably, her talent in the writing department is lacking. Hair Drama is based on Brown’s own experiences of almost being evicted from her salon before her grand opening, and having her license stolen twice. These things, and only these things, make up Hair Drama. There is no subplot.
Brown, Racquel Rand, and Camille Belle have great taste in clothing, the live band courtesy of Gabriel Day is a great touch, and the audience apparently enjoyed the work.
Now, this is where the critic in me attacks the work, not the artist. Hair Drama is a one-note act that spends way too much time transitioning between scenes and not enough time on a usable plot line or decent actors.
The only stand-out actors in this piece are Jacquis Rambeau as Fabulous, an entertaining, flamboyant salon worker. Kelvin Taylor as Pastor Singalot is comical as the bad-dressing pastor with a great voice.
Little Johnny F. Wilson III as Willie Earl Singalot has the best dance moves of the play. And Jayshun Burnett as Lula-Mae kills the audience with his large talent, also known as his big derrier.
Honorable mentions are Britney Ingraham, who plays the lead character of Mahaqni. Her overly dramatic performance needed to be taken down a few notches. Jessica Sutherland, who was obviously cast for her great beauty, tap dances the line between method actress and just plain annoying, as does Jade Laster in her role as Leandra and Nita.
Darriel (D.C.) Cannon, as the state board inspector, walks rather oddly, and his demeanor is never explained in the play. And, Miami bred singer Al’Iak’C, the resident songstress, has a great voice, but it’s not strong enough for theatre.
What I did like about this play with the weak, hole-ridden plot is the theme of God taking care of our problems and making things better; but the strong message gets the stepsister treatment with the weak story line. The ten- minute scene transitions did not help either.
Despite what I think, there were quite a few people who enjoyed Hair Drama, which also will be touring in Atlanta and West Palm Beach. I just hope Brown’s writer hat is a better fit, so the play’s plot gets a glammed up reboot before then.
Photo courtesy of Felicia Brown. Mahaqni, played by Brintney Ingraham, left, examines the damaged hair of Elizabeth, played by Jessica Sutherland, in the play Hair Drama.