REVIEW: No 'Generations' gap: Musical transcends age and color (VIDEO)

Published: Monday, March 3, 2014 at 03:24 PM.

Smith and his cast's labor of love gripped the audience with its initial, stunning a cappella medley of Negro spirituals, and didn't let go until the bows during "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." In between, "Generations" was a cavalcade of black American 20th-century musical achievement that rolled the audience through a gamut of emotional participation.

Nearly as remarkable as the onstage performances was the magic at work in the seats, where an audience spanning black and white, toddlers to seniors, united for well-performed good music, packing messages of hope and inspiration.

Smith wrought a work with wide-ranging appeal, yet included pieces that were probably new to some as he broadened our musical horizons. Children might not know "Lulu Mae's" or "Nighttime is the Right Time," but then, their parents and grandparents may not know "End of the Road" or "I'm Going Down," either.

But even those of us who never watched "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" couldn't resist the hip-hoppin' fun when Robert Thomas Heights and Traylin Gastone performed the show's theme song rap as many in the audience sang along.

Awesome 'At Last'

With Crestview gospel singer Chevon Corlew conducting the equally talented band, the energized audience clapped, sang along, and then descended into hushed awe during several stunning solos.

Worth the ticket price alone was Stephanie Duenes' soaring, breathtaking rendition of Etta James' anthem, "At Last," which rang from the rafters and sent thrills up and down many a spine.

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