The musical Fannie Lou began as an idea that wedded history, music and drama. What if, I thought, the story of Fannie Lou Hamer were told not only through an artistic work that presented her voice, but also gave considerable weight to contrasting perspectives?
I wanted to utilize artistic conventions to tell a story of heroism, dynamism and personal sacrifice. And I wanted to do it in a compelling way that, even though we know the ending, takes audience members on such an intriguing journey that they wonder what will happen next.
Many, many thanks to everyone who came to see the world premiere in New York City on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012 -- the 95th anniversary of Fannie Lou Hamer's birth. I hope it inspired. I hope it engaged. Most of all, I hope it was a reminder of the struggles and almost unspeakable hardships that Mrs. Hamer and people like her endured for hard-fought freedoms.
And I hope Fannie Lou serves as encouragement, as we move forward, to keep those freedoms alive.
The above photos are from the March 24, 2012, New York City staged reading of “Scenes and Songs from Fannie Lou.” The performance featured several songs and dialogue excerpts from the full-length musical Fannie Lou. Participants included more than a dozen actors and singers. Several parts were double cast and some actors played more than one role. Pictured, starting with the upper left photo and going from left to right in each row, are: (Photo 1) the full cast and crew; (Photo 2) Diane Parker as Fannie Lou Hamer; (Photo 3) Paul Fraccalvieri as The Narrator; (Photo 4) local civil rights leaders were portrayed by, from left: Lucinda Carr, Tiffani Coleman, Chris Gwynn, Cheri Hunter, Vincent Filliatre, Brittane Rowe and Victor Arnez; (Photo 5) Local Voting-Rights Resistance Leaders are played by Robert Rice, Josh Rothberg and Paul Fraccalvieri; (Photo 6) Tiffani Coleman as Fannie Lou and Brittane Rowe as Laura share a light moment; (Photo 7) Maria Sbrocchi portrays Pamela and Jonathan Rodriguez plays Junior in this scene; (Photo 8) here, Chris Gwynn (second from right) plays Junior opposite Diane Parker’s Fannie Lou, Brittane Rowe’s Laura and Vincent Arnez’s Rev. Hill; (Photo 9) Hillary Ekwall played Pamela in two of the performances; (Photo 10) Maria Sbrocchi played the role of Pamela, which was double cast, during two performances; (Photo 11) Diane Parker as Fannie Lou and Paul Fraccalvieri as The Reporter debate the merits of fighting for the vote; (Photo 12) Brittane Rowe as Laura and Chris Gwynn as Junior share a poignant moment.