The organizers of the Tuskegee-Morehouse Classic wanted to do a special 75th anniversary Diamond Jubilee show to highlight the longtime rivalry between the two schools.
They contacted Jacqueline Egins, who produces shows at the Liberty Theatre and she immediately went to work researching the origins of the game and the music from each decade since the game began in 1936.
Egins learned the game was first organized to give African-American soldiers stationed at Fort Benning something fun to do on a fall Saturday. As the game became established, the organizers began adding events around the football game, including a parade, golf outing, step show and tailgate parties.
This year, a musical revue is part of the schedule, kicking off the events leading up to the game Oct. 9.
Egins took each decade and before the music that defined each era begins, she added some text that the actors will read. For example, she found out what an average house and car cost in the 1930s, along with prices of gasoline, bread and milk. Facts like that are interwoven throughout the play.
She got some of the top singers and dancers in the area performing in the show. Vocalists include Christina “Trina” Alfred, Dionne Daniels, Erika Finley, Wane Hailes, Yvonne Hart, Crystal Jones, Timquanna Jones, Michael McDonald, Ometrise Richmond, Lei Smith, T.J. Still, Kanard Thompson, Diedre Williams and Sheila Green. Dancers include Antonio Agyemang, Julious Fletcher, Maridelle Borja, Jeniah Johnson, Vanessay Lundy, Naseen Odoms, Henry Rivers, Karl Roberts, Willie Robinson and Tamela Thompson.
Christina “Trina” Alfred, who won a singing contest in an Alabama casino, has moved from Columbus to Atlanta to try to get her singing career started professionally. She laughs as she says her boxes are unpacked in her new apartment, but she spent most of September in Columbus, first in the Lena Horne tribute show and now this one.
Alfred’s best friend, Ometrise Richmond, says this is one of the most talented casts he’s worked with at the Liberty.
“We’ve had such a short time to get this one together,” he said. “But we’ve got good singers. All of them.”
Kanard Thompson, who had been working with Devin Johnson, is still writing songs, but is enrolled at Columbus Technical College studying technical communications. He said he needed to perform and this show gives him a chance to do that, singing songs by Usher and as one of the Temptations.
For Deidre Williams, it’s her first appearance on the Liberty stage. She said she was too scared to perform in front of an audience before, but is glad she auditioned.
“It’s a lot of hard work and I get to meet new people,” she said. “I still have a little stage fright, but I’m ready.”