They Don’t Want to Hear Hattie Sing!

Hattie McDaniel is most famous for being the first African American to win an Academy Award. Ironically, she won it for her performance as Mammy in Gone with the Wind, a stereotypical nanny living in the segregated South just before the Civil War. Imagine what she’d have to say about the state of African-American performers today. That’s exactly what Vincent Victoria did when he wrote They Don’t Want to Hear Hattie Sing!, presented today as a stage musical reading at Express Theatre. In the story, Hattie is on her way to the Gone with the Wind set in 1939 when she’s suddenly transported to 2009, where she meets a “modern-day version of Buckwheat.” Modern Buckwheat is a hip-hop artist who argues that it’s okay to play a stereotype, because he’s making lots of dough. Hattie also encounters a light-skinned black actress who tells her that light skin is more beautiful and more marketable than dark skin. Clearly, things haven’t really changed all that much in 70 years. With eight original songs that range in style from big band to hip-hop, the show promises to make you enjoy its big ideas. See it at 8 p.m. today and 2 p.m. tomorrow. 446 Northwest Mall. For information, call 713-682-5044 or visit www.expresstheatre.com. $5.
Sat., Sept. 13, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 14, 2 p.m., 2008

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