Photo: Blumenthal Performing Arts

Opening night for “A Soldier’s Play” was truly amazing. The show was entertaining but also provided a much-need history lesson on the battles Black soldiers faced during the Jim Crow-era.

The play uses the murder mystery of a sergeant at an all-black Louisiana Army base to explore the complicated feelings of anger and resentment that some Black soldiers displayed toward one another.

The show provides insight into how many Black soldiers struggled to find belonging in the military, even among their own race.

From the opening scene, you are visually transported to the night of Sergeant Water’s murder. From there, the story moves to the morning the interrogation begins. 

Set and story

The set was limited, but provided the audience enough to experience being at Fort Neal in Louisiana.

The show’s pace was smooth; it helped the audience understand the story scene by scene. The transitions to flashbacks blended easily into the storytelling and gave context to the story.

I’m not a big fan of musicals, but, in my opinion, the show had the perfect balance of songs, choreography and acting.

An accomplished cast

The performances of Norm Lewis, who portrayed Captain Davenport, and Eugene Lee, who portrayed Sergeant Vernon C. Waters, were awesome. 

Lewis showed exactly why he is an Emmy, Grammy, Tony, and SAG-nominated actor.

And Lee, despite my personal dislike of the character he played, made me appreciate his craft as an actor.

Sheldon Brown made the character of C.J. Memphis feel relatable to the audience. The character’s genuine and somewhat humorous nature often provided comedic relief to the audience during serious scenes.

Denzel Washington (the actor who played Pvt. Melvin Peterson in the movie) would be proud of Tarik Lowe’s portrayal. Lowe’s performance of the character was quite Denzel-esque.

Overall, the show was worth the visit.

And based on the audience’s standing ovation, my opinion is shared by others.

Side note: West Charlotte graduate Al’Jaleel McGhee is an understudy in the show.

Jalon is a general assignment reporter for QCity Metro. He is a graduate of North Carolina Central University and an avid sports fan. (

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