Friday, June 22, 2018

What You Need to Know about Hattie McDaniel

Hattie McDaniel: What I Need You to Know

June 22-24, 2018
Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture


For her performance as Scarlett O’Hara’s maid “Mammy” in Gone with the Wind, Hattie McDaniel, in an era replete with racism and segregation, made history as the first African-American woman to receive an Oscar and win a place in the Hollywood firmament, even if that place was far in the back and near the kitchen.
Hattie McDaniel as Mammy in Gone With the Wind
In Hattie McDaniel: What I Need You to Know (currently playing until June 24 at the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason), actress, singer and songwriter Vickilyn Reynolds brings Hattie to life, telling her story from being the youngest of 13 children of former slaves to pursuing her dream of performing on stage and eventually in films in the early days of Hollywood, where roles for black actors were limited and scarce.

Vickilyn Reynolds as Hattie McDaniel (photo: Alissa Banks)
In a series of loosely-joined vignettes that could benefit from tighter direction, editing and a stronger story thread, Reynolds presents Hattie as an intrepid fighter undeterred by the word no. What makes this show is Reynolds’ remarkable songwriting and singing talent. Her original songs such as "Hollywood," "When Will It Be My Turn," "Dis, Dat, Deez, Dem Day," "Any Kinda Man" and more are moving, warm and very creative. She has a belt-it-out, come-to-Jesus voice that lifts you out of your seat, and this experience alone is worth the price of admission. And, to boot, Reynolds resembles McDaniel’s in stature and feisty attitude.

Vickilyn Reynolds (photo: Alissa Banks)
Opening night was challenged by abrupt or delayed lighting and costume changes and a persistent feedback buzz, but such things can be corrected with repeat performances, especially as the show begins its USA tour.

Audiences will walk away humming a few new tunes, enlightened and entertained by the story of a legendary Hollywood icon who deserves much more recognition.
Hattie McDaniel
Hattie McDaniel: What I Need You to Know
June 22-24, 2018
Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture

Performer
Vickilyn Reynolds as Hattie McDaniel

Director, Lighting and Set Design: Byron Nora
Costumes: Kevin Mays and Mylette Nora
Stage Manager: Alyssa Champos

Tickets range from $25 - $100 and are available by emailing ticketing@fortmason.org or in-person at the Box Office. More information about the production can be found online at www.hattiewhatineedyoutoknow.com or by calling (415) 345-7500.

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