THE CAMPAIGN TRAILBy Sharon Goodspeed Keyton and Joe Rogers
DVA Productions, Inc.
Directed by Sharon Goodspeed Keyton
Composer/Music Director – Joe W. Rogers
Set Design – David Ruffin
Lighting Design – Nikki Deshea
Sound Design – Jorge Flores
Stage Manager – Jennifer Kennard
Choreographers – Sheridan Monroe, Durant Searcy, Sheran Keyton
Roy Charles Brooks – Senator Charlie Ray Martin
Sheran Goodspeed Keyton – Charlise Martin
Abel Baldazo – Marcos David
Crystal Williams – Ella Manning
Dan Johnston – David Risinger
Laura L. Jones – Carol Sumpter
Durant Searcy – Kevin Graves
Regina Brumfield – Jacqueline Kennedy
Gary E. Payne – Richard Farmer
Nikki Washington – Ray
Kriston Alexandra Royal – Moran
Sheresia “Dede” Goodspeed – Lisa
De’Jahnique Rainey – Marcy
Marsela Torres – Keelah
Broderick Tanksley – Lewis
Dominique Colbert – Ron
Deion Colbert – Brandon
Kerington Morrow – Darren
Kaliyah Jones – Darla
Joe W. Rogers – Keyboards
Chris White – Bass
Eddie Dunlap – Percussions
Reviewed Performance: 7/30/2016
Reviewed by Angela Newby, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Director Sharon Goodspeed Keyton has pulled together a cast and crew that produced a show that was filled with talent and dedication to not only producing a show, but also mentoring the young actors. Music Director and Composer Joe W. Rogers was brilliant in his composing and highlighted the talent on the stage and the musicians beside him.
David Ruffin’s set design was thorough and was set up in a way that it was easy to distinguish the acting on stage. The park scene was perfect with a bench and trees for the shady conspiracies on the campaign trail, while the platform with patriotic banners and flags was perfect for the delivery of speeches. The main stage was filled with the call center and senior staff planning area. The one flaw to the set design was the awkward transitions as the actors moved the set around.
Lighting Design by Nikki Deshea was clean and simple. Through the use of spotlights the action on stage was highlighted to where the audience should hold their focus. This was especially important when all of the actors were on stage.
Jorge Flores’ sound design had some implementation issues. Throughout the show it was hard to hear the actors as their mics were either not turned on in time, or was too soft. There was also an issue with hearing the vocals of the musical numbers over the band. This at times distracted from what was going on stage, as there were missing pieces of the script.
Choreographers Sheridan Monroe, Durant Searcy, Sheran Keyton did an excellent job working with all of the moving parts on stage, the people and set to take advantage of the talent of each individual. At times the choreography seemed forced and the cast looked uneasy as in “My Turn”. Yet, it was the ensemble that rocked with choreography with energy and power, especially in “Our Future.”
Roy Charles Brooks as Senator Charlie Ray Martin was the epitome of a good ol’ boy politician. Brooks’ pointed enunciation and slow steady cadence was spot on for his speech. Yet it was his vocal inflection and emotional eyes that show the heart of Senator Martin as he says good-bye to not only his daughter, but also his dream of becoming president. Brooks provides great harmony in “Baby Girl.”
Charlise Martin, performed by Sheran Goodspeed Keyton, was thrown into the campaign trail as her father dies. Keyton’s wide eyes, bright smiles were only enhanced by her solid and soulful vocals. Each of every one of Keyton’s songs was moving and beautiful especially, “I Need You Now.”
Abel Baldazo as Marcos David had a solid performance as the senior staff member in charge of the young college students. Baldazo shines in his musical numbers and harmonizes perfectly with Keyton in “You and I” Baldazo’s easy going movements, bright eyes, and gentle smiles all show Marco’s desire not only to win the race, but also to help the next generation see their importance in politics.
Ella Manning played by Crystal Williams was the matriarch of the senior staff as campaign manager and excels in this role. Williams’ vocals in “Blessing In My Life” was amazing and was the only song not impaired by the band. Williams’ no-nonsense gazes, perfect posture stance, and knowing smiles, show her dedication to winning the race with integrity.
Dan Johnston portrays David Risinger, the vice-president candidate for the Independence party. Johnston’s blank stares, nervous gestures, and shaky voice all show his characters inner turmoil in the musical. Yet Johnston lacks confidence in his musical number, “My Turn” were choreography was also sloppily executed.
Laura L. Jones as Carol Sumpter was another senior staff member that was a steady member to the rest of the staff. Jones’ loses her enunciation in “My Confession” but her expressive eyes and body language allow the audience to know fully where her emotions were.
Kevin Graves played by Durant Searcy was the social media specialist in the senior staff of Martin’s campaign. His character was highlighted by the script where he text speaks throughout every line. Searcy in “IDK” was solid and strong vocally and holds the passion of a man in love, yet it was the direct contrast with the rapping that show off his talent and skills as an actor.
Jacqueline Kennedy performed by Regina Brumfield was another member of the senior staff. Brumfield’s pursed lips and formal and proper posture lead are guided by her name sake of years ago and are impeccable and show her aspiration of winning the race for her party.
Richard Farmer played by Gary E. Payne was the epitome of the dirty politician. Payne’s dumbfounded looks, evil laugh, and beady eyes all showed the true mud-slinging of a good campaign fight. In “House of Cards” Payne’s vocals are more said than sung and show his sleazy side of his campaign through Payne’s jabs and below the belt approach.
The female ensemble consisted of Nikki Washington, Kriston, Alexandra Royal, Sheresia “Dede” Goodspeed, De’Jahnique Rainey, Marsela Torres, and Kaliyah Jones were energetic and focused on their duties on stage. They were confident and full of smiles and perfect choreographed moves.
The male ensemble was comprised of Broderick Tanksley, Dominique Colbert, Deion Colbert, and Kerington Morrow. Each of these young gentlemen were spirited and their eyes shone with pride with a job well done.
These young actors were bright and enthusiastic and their stage presence radiated. They each have a future ahead of them and will go far in their acting careers.
The band consisting of Joe W. Rogers, Chris White, and Eddie Dunlap were absolutely fantastic and brought the mood and tones to the forefront. I always love having live music and these gentlemen did not disappoint and was one of my highlights of the show.
DVA Productions, Inc. has produced an interesting and thought provoking original musical comedy with The Campaign Trail. Come and enjoy the twists and turns of what life can be like while running for President of the United States of America.
DVA Productions, Inc.
Trimble Tech High School, 1003 W. Cannon Street, Fort Worth, TX 76104
Runs through August 7th
Friday and Saturday evening at 8:00. Saturday and Sunday matinee at 3:00. Ticket prices are $25 for Friday and Saturday evening, and $20 for matinee. For tickets and information, go to http://www.dvaproductions.org/.