Brandon Rainey and the cast of ‘Why We Sing’ Musical pose on stage post-show. (Photo by: James “JR” Rhaburn)

On Friday, March 3 and Saturday, March 4, the 2013 musical, ‘Why We Sing’ (Presented by CBG Arts & SWESH in association with Kirk Franklin & 102.3 KJLH) was brought back to the stage at the Miracle Theatre in Inglewood, California. To celebrate writer and director, Brandon Rainey’s birthday and 20-year anniversary since his first main stage show, new faces and returning faces graced the stage to bring new villains, new plot twists, and new music after 10 years.

Saturday’s show was titled, “HBCU night” (which honored those who attended Historically Black Colleges and Universities) and upon entering the theatre a marching band greeted attendees with a live performance.

The musical started with a dance number and went straight to the theatrics. The cast was filled with a mix of both male and female talent, whom all of which are well-versed in dancing, singing, and acting. The audience was engaged with their captivating vocals and stage presence.

‘Why We Sing’ is about two schools from different parts of the city who have to merge in order to save from getting shut down. Amidst from the school’s fight to remain open, the students at both schools face their own share of adversity. The musical touches on numerous topics such as depression, teenage pregnancy, gang violence, Covid-19, police brutality, and more.

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The cast included Charles Farer, Ami- Maxine Tell, Chanel Maryland, Princess Fortier, Caleb Minter, Mesha Conway, Gerald B. Evans, Deion Smith, Robert Taylor, Janelle “Nelle” Dunkley, Justyn Malik Burney, Adrian Javon Martin, Cydney Kone, QueJonne Cross, Zakira Peques, Chanee’ M. Davis, Tameca Devant, Ryan Pinkston, Antoine Tate, Yvonne Wema, Jayloni Fisher, Austin Ledger, Zarin Redford, Christian Monroe-Haynes, Sade Mejia, Jonathan Lucas, Everett Jackson, Christopher Devant, Milan Page, Lorein Chua, Jelani Adams, and last but certainly not least, the adorable baby cameo by Journey Marie Rose.

It is evident that the cast worked tirelessly to bring this musical to life as they executed each performance. Aside from the phenomenal cast, lies a hard-working crew who without a doubt put in hours on end to make sure that this production was one to remember. The crew included writer and director, Brandon Rainey, Tanisha Hall, who served as producer and music director, QueJonne Cross as choreographer, Jessica Ross and Jonathon Lucas as production manager, David Cross as House Manager, Darryl Hobbs as the band director. Not to mention a plethora of others who made this production possible.

Rainey has been writing and directing plays since he was a teenager. He attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. After graduating, he started working in education as an English and Theater teacher. He serves as the Executive Director for CBG Arts, Regional Training Manager for Sandy Hook Promise & Artistic Director of Inglewood Theater Group. Rainey has made a positive impact on the arts community, giving aspiring creatives various platforms to express themselves. He is the visual and performing arts director at DNA Prep Academy.

After a 5 year hiatus, Rainey knew it was time to make that return. “After being out of the game for several years, I doubted myself; but I knew that now was the time and I had to trust God, myself and my tribe,” he emphasized. “It felt exhilarating and humbling to see all the pieces come together.”

Expect to see more from the writer/director as he plans to continue his legacy with more projects. Rainey told the Sentinel that, “It’s time to get back to work.”

“This undertaking came out of me and Tanisha’s pockets so we are looking for sponsors and partners who can help us bring more community theater projects to the city,” he continued.

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