These are exciting times for playwright and actor Keith Glover, whose The Coming Of The Hurricane played in November at NJ's Crossroads Theatre Company. From hurricanes, Glover now turns to a different weather pattern with Thunder Knocking On The Door, "A Blusical Tale Of Rhythm And The Blues" running through Jan. 26 at Baltimore's Center Stage.
It's the second new musical in a row for Center Stage, whose hit production, Triumph of Love, is being moved to the launching pad for Broadway.
Set in Alabama, 1966, Thunder pits charmer and bluesman Marrvel Thunder against Jaguar Dupree, Jr., the twin of the only man ever to outplay Thunder on the Delta blues guitar. "Musical virtuosity, and the unpredictable power of love, will determine the victor."
Among the blues numbers rocking the house during the play will be B.B. King's Three O'Clock Blues and James Brown's twistin' Good Good Lovin'.
Three non-resident professional theatres have combined to produce Thunder: Alabama Shakespeare Festival's Southern Writers' Project, which originally commissioned and mounted the piece; Center Stage; and Dallas Theatre Center, where the show will move for an engagement beginning Feb. 13. Keith Glover's other plays include the Off-Broadway hit, Danci ng On Moonlight, and the aforementioned Hurricane, which premiered at Washington's Arena Stage. Director Marion McClinton, an associate artist of Center Stage, is the author of Police Boys.
Appearing in Thunder are Harriett D. Foy, Charles Weldon, Shawana Kemp, Victor Mack, Lester Purry (Marrvel), as well as the onstage blues trio of Richard Rivers, Quintin Franklin and Bruce Edwards.
Previous credits of choreographer Ken Roberson include Off-Broadway's Avenue X and Blade To The Heat. Sets for Thunder are by Neil Patel, costumes by Alvin Perry, sound by Mark Bennett and lighting by William H. Grant III. James Magruder, who wrote the libretto for Center Stage's big hit, Triumph Of Love, serves as dramaturg.
In an interview with This Month ON STAGE critic Simon Saltzman (Nov. 1996), Glover credited NY's Young Playwrights Festival with giving him the push to become a full-time playwright. His mentors included Festival founder Gerald Chapman and playwright Ruth (The Heiress) Goetz. Glover's first play, The Sound Of Trumpets, written when he was a high school senior, was given a staged reading there in 1981.
For tickets ($24-$29) and information on Thunder Knocking On The Door at Center Stage on North Calvert St., call (410) 481-6500.
--By David Lefkowitz