On May 20, Gregory Hines and S. Epatha Merkerson are serving as supporting sponsors for a benefit to aid Sister Power, an organization devoted to finding mentors, building esteem and showing career options to young Black women. The May 20 benefit will feature the reading of a play, In The Upper Room, at Cami Hall, 165 West 57th St.
Through music and historical scenes, Crystal Emery's drama highlights the accomplishments of Black women in America. Eight actors will perform the piece (Hines and Merkerson are not in the cast, though Merkerson will serve as the evening's host). After the May 20 opening night, In The Upper Room will run at Cami Hall through June 5, and then, according to Triad spokesperson Charles Richardson (reached May 18), return to New York in the fall.
Emery's play was first done in 1996 at B. Smith's Rooftop Cafe under the title A Way Out Of No Way. The author-director said in a statement she wrote it because she "became disturbed by the lack of average African-American women represented in television and film productions - women who are the backbone of America."
Appearing in the piece are Joan Ashley, Ethel Calhoun, Paulette Carter, Natalie English, Daphne Gaines, Pat Lewis, Jeanine Myers, Beverly Salters, Stacy Saunders and Melissa Thomas.
For tickets to the benefit ($60) which includes a post-play reception at nearby Planet Hollywood, call (212) 285-1925. -- By David Lefkowitz