Melba Moore stars as Sister Reen L’Dimp, choir director of Shady Grove Church located in New Orleans, LA. The church’s new pastor, Charles Zachery (La Darian Raymond), has relocated to the bayou from New York City and wants to take the church in a new direction. Moore’s character, along with the rest of the congregation, is not too fond of the pastor’s new ways, or his wife Bernice (Brittany L. Smith). Other church members include the incredibly hysterical Mother Nelson (Just June; BET’s ComicView, HBO’s Def Comedy Jam), Mother Calhoun (Shena Reneé), Brother Theophilus (Brandon McCall), and Deacon Burton (Dante Carter).
The conflict at Shady Grove resolves rather abruptly about two hours into the almost two and a half hour play when Sister Reen confronts a homeless man named Banjabo (Roderick Barnswell). He’s been living outside the church for twelve years, and is brought inside the church by Moore following the reveal of a shocking secret.
The intimate setting of the Playhouse’s stage suited the cast, and Snipes does an excellent job in her comical depiction of African-American church culture. By far the most enjoyable characters are Mother Nelson and Mother Calhoun and their antics as they fall madly in love with Pastor Zachary. Sadly many of the characters of the cast were underdeveloped; however, Snipes found a way to integrate the themes of community, love, and acceptance into a hilariously entertaining story. Mmmmm…good God a’mighty, God does have a sense of humor!
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