“Love Jones The Musical” took the stage at the Visual Performing Arts Center with a packed theater full of people who sang and danced along to the tunes made famous by the movie.
Based on the 90s cult classic, “Love Jones” tells the story of Nina Mosley and Darius Lovehall who find love through social chaos, mixed feelings for a past lover and understanding. The people and situations within the story, don’t morph into caricature, but stay decently grounded to make a well rounded, enjoyable spectacle.
The musical performances stole the show. Most of the scenes take place in a nightclub with a stage for “open mic nights.” There were moments where performers addressed the audience on stage in a bit of a “fourth-wall” approach, but the exchanges between the theater audience and performers was organic and natural.
Actor, writer, and producer Tony Grant, who played Darius, said playing the role has been an amazing experience and his past professional and personal experience helped him play it well.
“I’ve been through this a few times, where I’ve met a young lady and she had some unfinished business and I end up having to wait on her to get her business taken care of,” he said. “Sometimes it ends up working out, like my current wife, it worked out perfectly. So my connection is real, it’s definitely real in some sense.”
Grant’s character, Darius, is a poet, book writer, and singer. He finds himself falling for Nina without knowing the past she hides. Her “unfinished business” has him torn to find a way to help her, or leave things be.
Grant said he remembered the movie well and didn’t let the movie define his role. “Although we couldn’t write the script exactly like the movie,” he said, “I had to really be creative on some things but stick as close to the movie as I possibly could. That’s what [the audience] is looking for.”
Singer, actor, and performer Chaz Shepherd, who plays the ex-boyfriend Marvin Cox, said meeting the cast held the biggest meaning to him. “Working with some folks that I really admire and appreciate, come to find out that they’re more talented than what I know them for so that’s fun,” he said.
He said he didn’t have any methodical preparation for the role. “I just do what jumps off the page to me. I embody that and naturally give it to you so it’s real and authentic.”
Max Jean said he went to the show with friend Brittany Williams to relive the memories of their favorite movie. “It just goes to show that love can be a twist,” he said. “Watching the show live and being there in person was going to give them a better picture of the story,” Jean said.
Williams said she was excited to see the production and was hoping the musical got the gist of the original movie. “I was ten or eleven when I first saw the movie and I fell in love with it. It’s still my favorite movie,” she said.
Susan Gray attended the show to surprise her husband Oliver Gray on his birthday after hearing about the show through the radio. “I heard the information on the radio and I knew I had to get tickets,” she said.
Susan Gray said her husband thought they were going to see a ballet. Oliver said how excited he was expressing how it was always their favorite movie back in the day.
Susan said “We own the movie on VHS and watch it on occasion, it rekindles things for us everytime we watch it.”