"What's Going On," an emotionally charged musical, set in the 1960s to classic Marvin Gaye tunes, will be performed by high school students from throughout the greater Los Angeles area in 10 performances, Thursday, July 26 thru Sunday, August 5 at Hamilton High School's Norman Pattiz Concert Hall, 2955 South Robertson Boulevard in Los Angeles.
Written and produced by award winning playwright and director Mark E. Swinton, the play is the showcase of the fourth annual summer arts program, conceived by Swinton and Los Angeles Unified School District Board Member Marguerite LaMotte. The season is sponsored by their non-profit, Youth Arts Initiative (YAI). Cedric The Entertainer will host the red carpet opening July 26, 6:30 p.m.
Past performances were attended by several Hollywood actors and hosted by Bruce Willis and the National Foster Care Fund.
This heart-wrenching trip down memory lane, complete with electrifying dance numbers and comical episodes, follows the life of Terrell Ray Jenkins, a 22 year old young man, who moves from a South Carolina farm to Harlem in pursuit of his dream to become a singer.
"Terrell's experiences, battling the temptations of big city life, while trying to remain grounded, speak to the struggles of today's youth," said Swinton. "It is frightening how the issues of the 1960s – war, drugs, race relations- are still prevalent today. This play provides lessons for youth as well as adults as they try to understand life's complexities.
"The cast includes nearly 40 teens with awesome talent and a magnificent director," said LaMotte. "This is an important piece for today's generation."
Nominated for nine NAACP Image Awards, "What's Going On" has been featured in three professional showcases around the country and was performed in Los Angeles in 2004.
An accomplished actor, director, writer and theatre educator, Swinton received a Bachelor of Arts in Acting and Directing from the highly acclaimed Newhouse School at Syracuse University. He is well known from Broadway to Los Angeles for his work in television, theatre and film.
Tickets to the red carpet, opening night performance are $50 per person, and range from $10 for students to $15 for general admission on the other nights. A special, "Family Night" performance will be held on Thursday, August 2. Evening show times are 8 p.m. Matinees will be held on Saturdays, July 29 and August 4 at 2 p.m. Sunday performances will begin at 3 p.m. Doors will open an hour prior to the show for all performances.
The play is free of charge to students enrolled in the "Beyond The Bell" after school program. As an incentive for good grades, any student with an honor roll report card will be admitted free to the Saturday, July 28 matinee performance, according to LaMotte.
The Youth Arts Initiative was founded in 2006 to expose students to the arts and uses performance to motivate students to reach their full potential in school and in life. Student fundraisers and donations from private individuals fund the performance.
Tickets may be ordered on line at www.ticketweb.com For more information, call (310) 808-3977.