The Grand Rapids Community College Players of the Theater Department is hosting “Detroit ‘67”, a play about the race riots that occurred in Detroit in 1967, at the Spectrum Theater until tomorrow.
To begin the show, the lights faded to show a woman, Chelle played by GRCC student Marqea Lee, listening to Motown and trying to untangle a box of Christmas lights.
The setting appeared to be in the basement of Chelle and her brother, Lank’s family home. There were a decade-appropriate couch and chair in the front of the stage with a small bar counter behind it with shelves holding alcohol bottles. To the left of the stage was an old record player.
The set seemed to bring the audience in and the record player music had the static that played in the background.
Chelle was soon joined by her friend, Bunny, played by Alexus Voss, Lank, played by Michael Francis, and their friend Sly, played by Raydale Shamaine.
The group had been running the room as a club of sorts to earn extra money to allow Chelle and Lank’s younger brother to go to school since their parents passed.
Lank and Sly enter the first scene with an eight-track player in place of Chelle’s beloved record player to which she’s not very happy. The boys say that a bar down the street was going out of business and was selling things that were in the bar for cheap. At the same time, the pair were trying to buy the bar to make it their own, but Chelle was not interested.
The play carried on with both Lank and Sly finding themselves in a bit of a pickle involving a white woman named Caroline, played by Eva Ramos, and the bar that was up for sale.
Although there were many sweet and funny spots filled with adult humor with the audience laughing, clapping and singing along with the music, there is a constant feeling of worry and oppression in the play that lasts until the ending.
The play ends with the characters looking toward better times, even though the times could get worse before they get better.
“Detroit ‘67” will be playing tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m. Even with the late showtime, the show is funny, very moving and a must-see.