Tagged Sandra Varner


By Sandra Varner

“The Church Ladies” From left to right: Nesha Ward, Deaun Parker and Virlinda Stanton.

Broadway San Jose is presenting the South Bay debut of “The Color Purple,” a musical about love, at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts, 255 Almaden Blvd, San Jose, Nov. 23-28, for 8 performances only.

Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased by calling (415) 792-4111 or visiting the website www.sjtix.com. Readers  of the Post can take advantage of specially priced tickets and select seats during all performances.  When making ticket purchases use the promo code: JOYFUL.

“The Color Purple” is based on the classic Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker and the moving film by Steven Spielberg.

With a joyous, Grammy-nominated score featuring gospel, jazz, pop and the blues, the musical is about hope and the healing power of love. It dramatizes the story of Celie, a woman who triumphs over adversity and discover her unique voice in the world. Read more

“Love Me or Leave Me” on Gospel Music Channel

By Sandra Varner

Carl Anthony Payne II

Clifton Powell

Elise Neal

Shirley Murdock

Terri J. Vaughn

The television World Premiere of the stage production “Love Me or Leave Me” debuts Saturday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. ET on the Gospel Music Channel (GMC) with encores that night at 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.
“Love Me or Leave Me” is a musical stage play in the traditional style, a family friendly plot and laugh tracks.  Cynthia Wyatt (Angela Evans) is a troubled teen who abandons her fraternal twin infants, leaving her own mother Annie Wyatt (Shirley Murdock) to raise the children.
Now, 25 years later, one of the twins, Josephine Wyatt (Elise Neal), is an attorney who is engaged to the man of her dreams, Justin Daniels (Christian Keyes). Cynthia returns to the scene to reclaim her place in her children’s lives.
Will she be accepted?  What made her leave in the first place? Read more

Oaklanders Respond to “FOR COLORED GIRLS”

Sandra Varner’s Celebrity Profiles

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Left, Richard Lawson is “Frank” in Tyler Perry’s “For Colored Girls,” Right, Loretta Devine as “Juanita”

and Lawson in scene from “For Colored Girls”

Recently, I had the pleasure of hosting an advance showing of the new Tyler Perry movie, FOR COLORED GIRLS, based on the award winning play from Bay Area noted author, Ntozake Shange, taken from her book of choreopoems titled, “For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf.”

In 1974, Shange’s “Colored Girls” made its stage debut, combining poetry, dance and music, and most significantly, placing the black female experience center stage.  In lyrical, honest, angry, funny and tender language, this heralded work evoked the feelings woven into the fabric of black female life in America. Within two years, the play became a Broadway sensation, won an Obie and Tony Award, and would eventually be produced in regional theaters throughout the country. Read more

CONVICTION, The true story of an innocent man, wrongfully convicted

Compelling and uncompromising, CONVICTION is the story of siblings Betty Anne and Kenny Waters.  From early on they shared an impenetrable bond that ushered them through a challenged childhood filled with impish deeds that led to being separated, thrust into living apart.

Kenny’s rambunctious-ness often went into overdrive fueling a pattern of misdemeanor offenses while making enemies along the way.  A failed marriage gave way to a strained relationship with his daughter yet, Kenny and Betty Anne remained as close as their circumstances allowed.

When the consequences of Kenny’s misfortunes fall into the hands of a vindictive parole officer, he is wrongfully convicted of murder, which serves as the basis of this film.  Renowned civil rights attorney Barry Scheck of The Innocence Project, who also worked on the O.J. Simpson trial, factors prominently into the telling of this story; Scheck worked alongside Betty Anne (who put herself through law school) to help free Kenny Waters. Read more

Michael J. Asberry talks about his love of acting

His voice is rich and deep like a flowing river; he stands over six feet tall with an acting portfolio that includes roles in feature film, television and stage.

Michael J. Asberry is pursuing his dream of acting, full time.  Presently, he is cast in the west coast regional premiere of “Superior Donuts,” written by Pulitzer Prize-winner Tracy Letts (August: Osage County), opening this week at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley in Menlo Park.  For tickets and information call (650) 463-1960 or visit www.theatreworks.org. Read more

Brenda Vaughn, home from Japan

During a recent visit to the Bay Area to visit family and friends, contemporaries who gathered to celebrate and reminisce at Q’s Lounge in Jack London Square serenaded Oakland’s own sensational song stylist, Brenda Vaughn, in song.

I sat down with Vaughn to discuss the success she is having in Japan and the heartfelt outpouring from her friends.  Emotional yet exuberant, Vaughn made special note of a close friend battling cancer, who she came to visit, asking all to embrace her with equal love. Read more

Idris Elba Stars in Action Heist “Takers”

By Sandra Varner

Idris Elba

Previously best known as the calculating de facto leader of a Baltimore drug empire in HBO’s critically acclaimed original series “The Wire,” Idris Elba is quickly making his mark as an actor to watch in Hollywood with a string of well-received performances in high-profile films.
Elba started his career in his native London, where he had become a mainstay on British television by his mid twenties. His leading role debut was in the HBO Original Film, “Sometimes in April,” by critically acclaimed director Raoul Peck.  Set during the Rwandan genocide of 1994, Elba’s portrayal of Augustan, a Hutu soldier who trying to save his Tutsi wife and family during the mass killings, received rave reviews. A prolific run of leading roles followed in Tyler Perry’s dramatic feature, “Daddy’s Little Girls,” opposite Hilary Swank in the thriller “The Reaping” and in the horror thriller “28 Weeks Later.” Read more

Sharon Leal Returns to TV in HELLCATS

She charmed us in the box office hit, DREAMGIRLS, and the hits didn’t stop there.  Sharon Leal is enjoying an active Hollywood career in both film and television.  Other film roles include: SOUL MEN with Samuel L. Jackson and the late Bernie Mac; THIS CHRISTMAS with Idris Elba, Regina King, Chris Brown and; Tyler Perry’s WHY DID I GET MARRIED (I and II). Read more

Ice Cube talks about his sweet spot New film LOTTERY TICKET in theaters

LOTTERY TICKET in theaters from Warner Bros. Pictures.  Bow Wow and Ice Cube star in this
family comedy about a winning lottery ticket that turns an entire community upside down.

Since the early 1990s, there have been more than 50 films with rapper/actor/producer Ice Cube attached in some capacity –from lead actor to executive producer– and soundtrack credits are too among the list. Dare we forget to mention his television ventures, among them, the new TBS comedy, Are We There Yet?, just signed for another 90 episodes. Read more

Celebrity Round Up

Terry Crews

By Sandra Varner
Terry Crews is one tough cat in the new action flick, “The Expendables, “ now in theaters.  Crews also costars in the upcoming comedy, “Lottery Ticket, “with Ice Cube, Bow Wow, Brandon T. Jackson, Naturi Naughton, Loretta Devine, Keith David and Mike Epps.  Read more at www.Talk2SV.com.
“Scented Dream “is the new book series from Jacqueline Turner Banks centered on the remote Dogon Tribe of Mali in West Africa, described as a sweeping and suspenseful journey, immersed in the nuances, complexities, joys and fears of love stories that never fail to surprise readers. Read more

Lance Gross Looks to the Future, Marriage and Oscar

Lance Gross

Oakland, CA native Lance Gross is known best for his role as Calvin Payne on Tyler Perry’s sitcom, “House of Payne,” seen weekly on the TBS cable network.  He has also costarred in Perry’s feature film, “Meet the Browns” and numerous other TV shows and music videos.

Currently, Gross stars in “Our Family Wedding,” directed by Rick Famuyiwa (“Brown Sugar,” “The Wood”) from an original screenplay written by Rick Famuyiwa, Malcolm Spellman, and Wayne Conley, boasting a cast that includes Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker (“Last King of Scotland,”treet Kings,” “The Great Debaters”) and Lupe Ontiveros (“This Christmas,” “Real Women Have Curves,” “Selena”). Read more

TV’s Funniest Lady Puts Her Dancing Shoes On!

Niecy Nash

“I’m excited to join Dancing with the Stars!  I’ve been a fan of the show and to now be a cast member on the show is a little surreal.  I’m looking forward to it,” states Nash. The new season begins March 22 on ABC.

The popular host and producer of the Style Network’s home makeover show, Clean House, Nash is a two-time 2009 Daytime Emmy nominee and the new Celebrity Panelist for the entertainment news program The Insider.

She recently won a 2010 Gracie Award for her well-known role as no-nonsense Officer Raineesha Williams on the Comedy Central hit Reno 911! and it’s spin-off film Reno 911: Miami.

In 2008, Nash starred in her own FOX comedy series, Do Not Disturb. She is also well-known for her recurring role on the comedy series The Bernie Mac Show.

An in-demand actor, her most recent film work includes Not Easily Broken and the Walt Disney Pictures’ G-Force. Additionally, Nash is developing various television and film projects through her own production company, Chocolate Chick, Inc.

The proud mother of three adoring children, when asked what her hobbies are, Nash proudly replies, “motherhood,” which she considers her greatest success in life. Read more

Monica Calhoun Stars in Award-Winning Soap Opera on PIC.tv

Diary of a Single Mom is a web based original series that chronicles the lives and challenges of three single mothers and their families trying to get ahead despite obstacles that all single mothers face: childcare, health, education and finances. The series is produced and directed by award-winning filmmaker Robert Townsend, renowned for such films as Hollywood Shuffle, Meteor Man and Holiday Heart. It is written by award-winning playwright and screenwriter Cheryl L. West.

Diary stars Monica Calhoun (The Best Man) as Ocean Jackson, a single mother of two striving to keep her family afloat while working to fulfill her own ambitions of finishing her GED, going to college and opening her own business.

Along her journey, she befriends and joins forces with two other single moms, Lupe (Valery Ortiz – The N’s “South of Nowhere”), a mother juggling different fathers for each of her two children while facing health concerns and Peggy (Janice Lynde – “Letters to Dad”), a once wealthy matriarch who suddenly finds herself widowed, broke and guardian to her only grandchild. Together, the three women search for support and faith as they strive to triumph over the challenges of everyday life. Read more

Morgan Says Blacks Should Lighten Up

Tracy Morgan (NBC’s 30 Rock) and Bruce Willis (Die Hard franchise) star in the upcoming buddy film, “Cop Out” from Warner Bros. Pictures, in theaters February 26.  Morgan spent a recent afternoon fielding questions from reporters (including this one) about the film and his career.

He seemed willing to answer all questions though we were asked not to probe into his personal affairs.  As if there aren’t plenty of sources already in place to divulge each aspect of his life, Morgan brought the goods. Read more