Preview: The Green Book Wine Club Train Trip
A strong Black female cast, writer and director combine for this play with a unique twist
Melting Pot Theatre presents The Green Book Wine Club Train Trip, an award-winning original play by local playwright Michelle Tyrene Johnson on stage through March 2 at the Just Off Broadway Theater, 3051 Central, Kansas City, Mo.
The play is about five contemporary Black women from Kansas City who take a weekend train trip as part of their book/wine club. Marie, a librarian, in addition to arranging the trip, is also doing research for her grandmother’s 80th birthday which involves looking through “the Negro Motorist Green Book,” the guidebook used by African Americans in pre-integration America to know the safe places to stay and patronize while traveling. Marie accidentally time travels to the 1940s, where she stays in a boarding house mentioned in the “Green Book.” The four actresses in the boarding house are double-cast as Marie’s friends on the trip.
In fall 2016 Johnson’s play won the Olathe Civic Theatre Association’s inaugural New Works Playwright Competition with the script, which earned her and the play two full-length staged readings at OCTA in summer 2017. Her play already received a staged reading in New York City and the Black National Theatre.
Ahead of the curve with her script, Johnson is “pretty tickled,” at how the Green Book has emerged as a theme, with the 2018 movie “Green Book,” nominated for five Academy Awards.
Directing the play is Teresa Leggard, a talented playwright in her own right. Johnson and Leggard first worked together on a project during their time at UMKC and continue to collaborate on projects in Kansas City.
Leggard feels audiences will love “the larger-than-life characters and the time travel element.” When asked what drew her personally to the play, she responded “This play is the essence of intersectionality; we’ve got a diversity of Black womanhood, across age, class, orientation, generation—literally across time.”
The cast of local remarkable artists includes: Khrystal Coppage, Lanette King, Jabrelle Herbin, Karis Harrington and Cecilia Evelyn Belser-Patton.
As an African-American theater company, the Melting Pot’s primary goal is to explore theatrical works, old and new, that feature complex stories of African-American life. The organization is known as a place where the work of emerging and establish African American playwrights is shared.
The show is staged Thursday through Saturdays. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. each evening with a 2 p.m. Saturday matinee. Tickets are $23 to $27.50 and can be purchased online at kcmeltingpot.com
P.S., If you like this production, Johnson and Leggard are teaming up on another production, “Passover,” that will be staged April 15-21 at the Olathe Civic Theater.