Pri­est Tyaire's 'Momma's Boy' touches ev­ery emo­tion

South Florida Times - - FRONT PAGE - By ISHEKA N. HAR­RI­SON ihar­ri­son@sfltimes.com

MI­AMI – This week­end, laugh­ter was in full sup­ply at the James L. Knight Cen­ter, but so were in­spi­ra­tional mes­sages and a range of emo­tions evoked by Pri­est Tyaire's hit stage play “Momma's Boy.”

Fea­tur­ing an all-star cast, the play tells the story of Aaron (Tyaire), a black po­lice of­fi­cer on a mis­sion to save fa­ther­less boys and mis­guided young men from tough in­ner city streets.

The prob­lem is, he’s so com­mit­ted to sav­ing oth­ers, he ne­glects his own son AJ (singer An­thony Dupree) in the process – and as the name of the play in­di­cates, he has other ma­jor is­sues.

In the play, Aaron is dat­ing fel­low of­fi­cer Au­tumn (ac­tress Robin Givens), who falls on hard times and moves into Aaron’s home with her two sons Joseph (Gary “Lil G” Jenk­ins, the lead singer of ’90s R&B group Silk) and De­li­cious (Thomas “2Tall” Har­ris). Aaron re­al­izes Au­tumn has spoiled her sons rot­ten and is de­ter­mined to make ‘stand-up men’ out of them.

The prob­lem is Aaron doesn’t re­al­ize he’s a Momma’s Boy him­self – de­spite be­ing told so by his ex-wife Sara (Camille For­rest). His mother Mary (R&B icon Shirley Murdock) sab­o­tages ev­ery re­la­tion­ship he has be­cause she feels no woman can take care of her son the way she does.

The star-stud­ded cast is rounded out by the hi­lar­i­ous Nephew Tommy who dou­bles in roles as Bryce, Aaron’s part­ner on the force and But­ter­fly, Au­tumn’s flam­boy­ant friend; Emmy award-win­ning ac­tress Jackeè Harry as Ms. Kathy, the sta­tion re­cep­tion­ist and Bryce’s much older love in­ter­est; New Edi­tion mem­ber and R&B le­gend Johnny Gill as Kevin, Au­tumn’s exboyfrien­d and her sons’ dead­beat dad; Chris Bolton as Nasir, a drug-dealer who keeps get­ting locked up who Aaron is de­ter­mined to save; and award-win­ning Gospel sen­sa­tion An­thony Brown as Kyaire, Nasir’s brother who is a big-time preacher try­ing con­vince his brother to give his life to Je­sus.

The play was so en­ter­tain­ing the au­di­ence laughed all the way through. It was that kind of “Stop be­cause I can’t breathe any­more” laugh­ter, but it also had much depth to it.

The play was re­lat­able be­cause it touched on real-life is­sues that peo­ple deal with ev­ery day. Faith in God, the im­por­tance of putting fam­ily first, the in­evitable down­fall that comes from street life and the dan­gers of men let­ting their moth­ers make their sig­nif­i­cant oth­ers feel in­fe­rior were all in­ter­wo­ven into Tyaire’s pro­duc­tion.

Like most stage plays, Momma’s Boy uses the gen­res of drama, com­edy and great down-home singing to speak to th­ese and other im­por­tant themes.

At the end of the play, Tyaire came out and shared his tes­ti­mony, say­ing he be­came a play­wright 10 years ago be­cause his mother had been di­ag­nosed with can­cer and he wanted to honor her by telling her story. So he penned his first play, “The Tears of a Teenage Mother.”

Though his mother passed two weeks be­fore the play de­buted, Tyaire said he re­al­ized God had gifted him af­ter it sold out. He said peo­ple who al­ready knew him were ask­ing for his au­to­graph. Tyaire also said he didn’t know he could write un­til he was 34 and en­cour­aged oth­ers to never give up on their dreams no mat­ter how old they were.

“It’s never too late. You’re never too old,” Tyaire said.

While speak­ing to the au­di­ence, Tyaire be­came emo­tional when pay­ing homage to his par­ents and de­tail­ing his strug­gle. But through it all, he said he still main­tains his faith. “This has been no easy jour­ney for me. This has been 10 long years to get to Mi­ami, Florida. I never imag­ined be­ing on stage with all of th­ese peo­ple. In my opin­ion the jour­ney is bet­ter than the des­ti­na­tion.

"Momma’s Boy" is still on a 50-city tour. To find out if Tyaire’s pro­duc­tion is com­ing to your town, visit www.mom­mas­boythe­p­lay.com.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF MOM­MAS­BOYTHE­P­LAY.COM

Pri­est Tyaire, Nephew Tommy and Robin Givens star in Tyaire's hit stage play "Momma's Boy."

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