Rollin' On the T.O.B.A., a tribute to the last days of black vaudeville, will have its West Coast premiere on the mainstage of the new El Portal Center for the Arts on March 17. Conceived by Ronald "Smokey" Stevens and Jaye Stewart, the show stars Stevens, Sandra Reaves-Phillips and Ted Levy. Stevens is also the director and choreographer. The run is for three weeks.
The show offers songs, tapdance and comic sketches drawn from the heyday of the "Chitlin Circuit," the old black vaudeville empire whose proper name was Theatre Owners Booking Association (better known as "Tough on Black Asses"). Additional material has been drawn from Langston Hughes' "The Simple Stories."
Rollin' On the T.O.B.A. had its 1999 premiere at the 47th Street Theatre in New York.
El Portal is located at 5269 Lankershim Blvd. in NoHo. For tickets and information call (818) 508-4200.
-- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent