Classic film hits the stage at Murphy Fine Arts Center

Benjamin McKnight

“Love Jones: The Musical” brought together an all-star cast to wow the audience with a modern rendition of a 90’s classic in the Murphy Fine Arts Center this past weekend.

MC Lyte and “Love Jones” writer and director Theodore Witcher assembled a crew of notable R&B stars to appear in the musical, including Chrisette Michele, Musiq Soulchild, Marsha Ambrosius, Raheem DeVaughn and Dave Hollister.

The musical, which was available for viewing Friday through Sunday night in Morgan State’s very own Murphy Fine Arts Building, was a modernized version of the thought-provoking and heart-warming movie. MC Lyte and Melvin Witcher brought on a phenomenal cast: Chrisette Michele, Musiq Soulchild, Marsha Ambrosius, MC Lyte, Raheem DeVaughn and Dave Hollister.

Characters like Darius Lovehall (Tony Grant) and Nina Mosley (Michele) were modified to fit the persona of what a man and woman may be like today. In the 1997 Addis Wechsler film, Darius and Nina find interest in each other at a Chicago nightclub and bond over R&B music, poetry and photography.

Nina decides to move to New York and mend her relationship with her ex-fiancé, Marvin. She leaves Darius heartbroken only to find her way back to him in the end. In opposition from the film, Witcher decided not to leave the audience hanging on the couple’s future status.

“The play was an [interpretation] of the film,” said DeVaughn, who played Hollywood, “so it’s paying homage to the film but [is] purposefully not like the film.”

The strategic promotion of the play weighed heavily on the celebrity names of the neo soul artists. Surprisingly, these artists were not prominent characters in the play, but acted as performers for the artificial nightclub, ‘The Sanctuary.’ The musical selection was not to disappoint, as they all sang their top hits in relevance to the script.

Although some things were changed in effort to modernize the play, others were changed inevitably in result of the cast selection. Michelle’s representation of Nina was far from the characteristics represented by the original actress, Nia Long. In the play, Nina was not as sassy, outspoken and unapologetic for her feelings or actions. It was a rather satirical remake of what the modern day social scene might look like.

“It was made twenty years ago, so [it’s cool] to be able to come to a place now where you can be inspired by those thoughts like ‘what would have happened if the characters were like right now?” Ambrosius said.

The musical has been making its way around the country and will be back in the area on Nov. 15 with a showing in Washington, D.C.