Best Musical - 2011
An exploration of African-American culture and identity as seen through the eyes of a young black woman and conveyed via the various church hats (or "crowns") donned by her family, Crowns was a full-on spiritual celebration with rap, gospel music, and dance. The entire cast, led by the incomparable Tony Award-winning Melba Moore and the fiery Lela Elam, was flawless, bringing Regina Taylor's exquisite script to soul-stirring life with verve and power. Old-timey gospel tunes such as "Marching to Zion" and "That's All Right" gave the show its heart and soul; "None but the Righteous" had the audience clapping and stomping along; and "Eye on the Sparrow" made sure there wasn't a dry eye in the house. Few theater productions transform into a full-on spiritual awakening. And that's exactly what the M Ensemble did with its production of Crowns.