Arts and Entertainment

Mini Theatre play salutes Godfather of Soul

Christian Dunnum has been doing his homework.

He’ll be taking on the role of Robert “Flash” Gordon, James Brown’s one-time manager, for the Augusta Mini Theatre production of The Man, The Message, The Music: A Tribute to the Godfather of Soul which opens Jan. 13 at the theatre’s Judith Simon Drama Studio at the mini theater, 2548 Deans Bridge Rd.

“He’s a legend in Augusta,” said Dunnum. “I’ve been looking for video to learn his mannerisms and making sure I can find things to bring him to life.”

Tyrone Butler, Augusta Mini Theatre founder, wrote the play several years ago. It takes place after the Godfather of Soul’s funeral. James Brown died on Christmas Day 2006. Friends have gathered at a local club and take a journey through their own memories. Brown’s music, his performance style as well as the man behind that are all elements of the show.

Dunnum said he’s grown up surrounded by Brown’s music, but the play has given him a deeper appreciation for it and the artist.

“I definitely see his influence on the music of today,” he said. “Michael Jackson definitely got a lot of it from him too.”

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In writing the play, Butler didn’t have any personal stories to share. Although he’s a native of Augusta, Butler never had the opportunity to meet James Brown in person, only a couple of near misses. But he has formed another relationship with a close Brown family member

“Deanna (Brown, James Brown’s daughter) and I are good buddies,” Butler said.

 She even had a role when the theater group produced The Man, The Message, The Music: A Tribute to the Godfather of Soul several years ago.

Butler said one of the  “exciting” highlights of the play is a dance scene. He’s had his actors study James Brown and The Famous Flames performance at the 1964 T.A.M.I show to prepare for it.

The Man, The Message, The Music: A Tribute to the Godfather of Soul will be performed at 8 p.m. Jan. 13, at 3 p.m. Jan. 14-16, 21-22 and Feb. 18-19 at the mini theater. A special performance will be at 2 p.m. Feb. 25 at Bettis Academy in Trenton, S.C.

Tickets are $15 for general admission, $10 for students and senior adults and $8 for groups of 10 or more. For information, call (706) 722-0598 or visit the website here.

Charmain Z. Brackett is the publisher of Augusta Good News. Subscribe to the newsletter here.