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MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – It’s dress rehearsal at the Colony Theatre on Miami Beach of One Night In Miami, written by critically acclaimed playwright Kemp Powers.
It’s loosely based on a real night back in February of 1964, when a young Cassius Clay shocks the world of boxing, beating Sonny Liston at the Miami Beach Convention Center to become Heavyweight Champion of the World.
While crowds swarm Miami Beach to celebrate, Clay is unable to stay on the island because of segregation laws.
He spends the night at the Hampton House Motel celebrating with three of his friends: activist Malcolm X, singer Sam Cooke, and football icon Jim Brown.
Miami native Carl Cofield directs.
“Unfortunately it’s the sad state of affairs of our history. They could perform here, they could entertain here, they could serve meals here but they couldn’t stay here,” said Cofield.
Recently the cast and crew, along with Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber and other notables, went to the Hampton House Motel, which is now a museum, to see the property first hand and look at it and the plays historical significance.
“The Hampton House is such a cultural legacy to Miami. It’s where Martin Luther King wrote a draft of his “I Have A Dream” speech. All of the black entertainers and intellectuals of the time stayed at the historic Hampton House,” said Cofield.
Grammy Award-winning actor and singer Leon Thomas, who began his stage career as young Simba on Broadway’s The Lion King, plays singer Sam Cooke and performs his iconic anthem “ A Change is Gonna Come “
“I’m a huge Sam Cooke fan, so to come here and interpret some of his music through his story is truly amazing,” said Thomas.
Actor Kieron J. Anthony plays Cassius Clay.
“I think that is one the greatest things about this play is that it’s occurring where it really happened and you get to learn something about history that was lost,” said Anthony.
Esau Pritchett plays football legend Jim Brown and Jason Delane plays Malcolm X. Both are honored to play these iconic men and to bring this play to its home, the place where it all began.
“What I love about what [playwright] Kemp is that he gives us a play that examines these iconic titans as men, as friends and to go personal with it,” said Delane
“It’s going to entertain people, it’s going to them educate them. It’s a historical piece that people in Miami should be proud of,” said Pritchett.
After the production closes, the set will move to the real Hampton House Motel to be in residence.
One Night In Miami is on at the Colony Theatre Oct 26 through November 18.