Burning Coal's Crowns | On the Boards | Indy Week

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Burning Coal's Crowns

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Crowns
Burning Coal Theater
Through April 27

Written by Regina Taylor, this gospel musical was adapted from a book by Tar Heel authors Michael Cunningham and Craig Mayberry that uses photographs and interviews to document the hats Southern black women wear to church. As hats hang from the ceiling of the Murphey School Auditorium, the women below delve into the etiquette of hats and how to wear one with "hattitude."

Directed by Rebecca Holderness, Crowns is full to the brim with energy and humor as these ladies reveal the sacrifices behind their hat-donning. As the actors and actresses deliver their anecdotal advice to the audience and to Yolanda (whose background as a hip-hopping Brooklyn transplant provides the production's thin plotline), others mime their stories, trade off lines of dialogue, dance, chant, hum and agree—the result of which is an ever-swirling, spirited production.

Although the ending of the production is forced and redundant, the rest of the musical is well worth seeing—you may even leave ready to comply with the ladies' ebullient directive, "Put something on your head, girl!"

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