God's Trombones

There is a cadence and rhythm to the goings-on in black churches that is to be found nowhere else. It comes from the same place that gave birth to the blues, tap, jazz and all the derivatives of these art forms. If you have only experienced these magical sounds indirectly through the radio, CDs, or television, let me encourage you to take advantage of an opportunity to hear a phenomenal performance of some of the finest sermons and spirituals ever written.

Shadow Theatre Company has engaged James Mapp to bring his labor of love, God's Trombones, to Denver. Mapp has been directing and performing this moving tribute for 40 years, since he wrote it based on the poetry of James Weldon Johnson and his own experiences growing up in Georgia.

Photo of Dwayne Carrington, LaDawn Sullivan, and Larry King
(Left to right) Dwayne Carrington as
Brother Jack William, LaDawn Sullivan
as Sister Ella Mae, and Larry King
as Brother Walter Mack
Mapp engaged six extraordinary singers and performers to bring home the message, including the Tony Award-nominated Queen Yahna, whose delivery mixes the oratorical brilliance of Martin Luther King with the musical gravity of Mahalia Jackson.

In addition, we are treated to five very special local performers, including the crystal-clear soprano of LaDawn Sullivan and the operatic soprano of Kimberly Woolfolk, the fine tenors of Larry King and Edward Battle, and the resonant baritone-bass of Dwayne Carrington.

In addition to Johnson's seven sermons based on Old and New Testament stories, there is an additional sermon written by Paul Lawrence Dunbar, and a host of well-known spirituals such as: Amazing Grace; Glory, Glory, Hallelujah; Amen; Swing Low, Sweet Chariot; and Jacob's Ladder.

The dynamic format of the presentation, with each sermon setting up a related medley of spirituals, brings on emotions that range from reverential to hair-raising.

God's Trombones is a perfect example of what Aristotle referred to when he said, and we paraphrase, "The theatre is a religious institution dedicated entirely to the spiritual exaltation of humankind." It runs through December 20th. 303-837-9355.

Bob Bows


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