Throughout history, music has been a tool used to bring people together in times of struggles.
This was no different during the civil rights movement in the United States.
Songs such as “We Shall Overcome” and “Eyes on the Prize” were used to motivate, connect and support those involved in the cause. People hear those songs now and feel a kinship with people from the past, a realization of the importance of their struggles.
Halifax County Little Theatre’s February production: “Ruby: the Story of Ruby Bridges,” is filled with music that underscores this story of a turbulent time period in the country’s history. A talented group of people are working together to make up the Black Chorus, who lend their talents as an ensemble to add depth to the production.
Juanita Kincy, Jayla Kincy, Jayda Younger, Kynnedy Riley, Erica Taylor, Ma’Kiya Palmer, Khali Garrett, Shirley Crawley, Demetria Owen, Precious Harwell and Amari Womack have been meeting every Thursday night with musical director Raymond Crawley to bring this courageous story to life to audiences through music.
Crawley is no stranger to HCLT productions, just coming off a run with “Smokey Joe’s Café” last spring. For this show, he takes the helm as musical director, and the product he has put together is mesmerizing.
All chorus members are having a great time learning the songs that contribute to Ruby’s story, and many of them have prior musical experience either singing at church or being a member of their school’s choir or band.
Owen and Harwell are members of the Halifax County High School band, Garrett is a member of the Halifax County Middle School chorus and Palmer, Taylor and Crawley are all members of their respective church choirs.
Crawley loves to sing and is excited to work with Raymond Crawley again.
This group is very involved in the community but all were happy to find the time to commit to rehearsals several nights a week since mid December.
For example, Younger is a student at HCHS where she is co-captain of the robotics team, interns at the middle school, and helps with the Comet News.
Womack, a recent HCHS graduate, played an elf in HCHS’s December production of “Miracle on 34th Street.” Besides acting, he loves to play video games and ride his bike.
CSES student Riley has been in numerous theater productions and still finds time in her busy schedule to play travel softball for the Halifax Heat. Kincy, also a student at CSES, is involved at Essence of Movement, where she takes hip-hop and ballet.
Chorus members all wanted to get involved with this show because of the important history it represents. Kincy, a registered nurse, has never been on stage before, but “thought this would be a good play for my children to take part in, and they wanted me to audition as well.”
Taylor, whose children are also a part of the production, has “realized that a lot of people don’t know that this happened,” and she loves the message that this show brings to audiences.
The members of the Black Chorus are all working to get the spirit of the civil rights movement woven through the story with music.
Kincy summarized why audiences should come see this show: “I think the younger generation would benefit from seeing how African Americans were treated, and what the children and adults went through to stay strong and not break. I believe they’ll understand why the older generation wishes them to do better and think smarter.”
The board of Halifax County Little Theatre is making preparations to have everything just right when “Ruby: The Story of Ruby Bridges” hits the stage for just two weekends of performances in late February.
Tickets are available online at www.hclt.org, at The Prizery box office and at the Halifax County Visitor’s Center.