You have one more week to catch FLY at the Pasadena Playhouse, a most interesting tell of the accomplishments of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African American Army Air Corp that served during WWII.
The play was written by Trey Ellis and Ricardo Khan, the latter directing it at the Playhouse. It stars Brooks Brantley, Desmond Newson, Damian Thompson, and Terrell Wheeler, the foursome representing the 994 pilots who graduated from the Tuskegee program and became fighter pilots against all odds. Omar Edwards is an extraordinary addition to the play, his tap-dancing underlining the feelings and emotions of those men who worked hard to achieve what the society of their time believed impossible. The cast is complete with Ross Cowan, Anthony J. Goes, and Brandon Nagle.
In 1941, carefully chosen black men, mostly college graduates and undergraduates of great physical and mental ability, were accepted into the U.S. Army’s Pilot Training Program at the Tuskegee Army Airfield in Alabama. In a world full of prejudice, they persevered until they reached their goal, maintaining a nearly perfect record of service and eventually gaining the respect of the white officers who had expected nothing but failure. Today, less than 200 Tuskegee Airmen survive and beautifully some of them were present at the opening night of FLY. (The picture that accompanies this review includes them and the members of the cast.)
At the Playhouse the stage switches easily from Tuskegee, Alabama, to the Ramitelli Air Base in Southern Italy, and from the soldiers’ barracks to the inside of a fighter plane. Often, documentary pictures of the actual Tuskegee Airmen are projected as backdrop and serve as a reminder that these soldiers fought two wars – one for their country’s freedom and another one against those who did not believe them deserving, or capable, because of the color of their skin. This is quite an inspirational story, perfect also to honor Black History Month.
FLY is performing Tuesday through Sunday through Feb.21. Tickets range $25 to $77. There is a military discount (buy one ticket get one free) for those who can present Military I.D. More information and tickets at PasadenaPlayhouse.org
Dena Burroughs photo