The autobiographical coming of age musical “The Day Before Heaven” begins in the 1970s in Brooklyn at the dawn of the Hip Hop era. “The Day Before Heaven” tells an account of the life of Crystal Johnson, as a young black girl, who simply wants to sing from her heart. As the narrative unfolds, Crystal experiences the highs and lows of becoming a musical artist; the woes of the instability of a romantic relationship; and the responsibilities of motherhood.
Playwright, actress, singer, and songwriter Crystal Johnson plays the adult version of herself in this turbulent and triumphant story. Crystal explained why she felt her life story was necessary to share with the world.
“I just felt like my story could possibly empower some women. Whether she’s a single mother, or just a woman with vision and a goal. They need to know that despite obstacles you can make it. You can fulfill your dreams you can do whatever you want,” she said.
EGL had the opportunity to meet the cast of the “The Day Before Heaven” during a private backstage interview. Good energy was high amongst the cast members as they took a short break before the next show. They eagerly shared their experience as ensemble members.
First, we chatted with Amber Nicole Scott, who plays the young Crystal Johnson.
EGL: How did you get the role as the lead in The Day Before Heaven?
“The director, Crystal Johnson is my actual blood sister. We’ve always sung together even though we didn’t grow up together, but we’ve always kept in close contact. She reached out to me and said, ‘You have to be in my play. You have to play this part. You have to be Crystal, it’s only right!'”
EGL: Through the play we learn that Crystal didn’t have formal training. You have an amazing voice. What is your background and where do you see yourself in the entertainment industry?
“I have formal training in dancing and singing. My aspirations are to just to be living my dream on stage. Acting, singing, whatever it is. I love being on stage. I love entertaining.”
EGL: How do you envision your path in the music business?
“I definitely want to be a recording artist first. That’s my first heart my dream. I know I’ll make my way into acting, Broadway eventually.”
Next up, we spoke to supporting actor Robbie Tate (Former EGL Bachelor) who plays Boobie aka Producer Easy Moe Be, in the play.
EGL: So Robbie, tell us more about your character Boobie. How did you feel playing this role?
“Boobie is Crystal’s brother’s bestfriend. I love the part. I’m having so much fun with this character. I can relate to it. I’m used to hanging out on the block. I’m really into rap. And that’s Boobie. He’s really into his music, he’s starting his own crew, trying to get down, become successful and famous. And that’s what I’m going through in my real life. You know putting in work to be at the top of my game in the industry.”
EGL: What exactly do you want to do in the entertainment industry?
“I’m working on becoming an established recording artist and an actor.”
EGL: Are you more endeared to one art form over the other?
“Naturally I feel like I’m actor, but I can just as easily rap. My acting career is more vital to me. My music is more like a diary.”
EGL: I know this isn’t your first performance. What else have you contributed to by way of acting?
“This is my first play. But I’ve done many movies. I’ve been in Life, Love, Soul with Terri Vaughn. My first movie was Black Out with Zoe Seldana, Melvin Van Peebles, and Jeffery Wright. So I’ve had a lot of experience being on television and film. But this was a brand new experience being in a play. Being live, you can’t yell, “Cut”, you got to be on point. You got to be able to adlib and keep on going.”
EGL: What’s up next for you?
“I have a movie coming up entitled Respect the Jux. It should be coming out this summer. There’s a movie out right now on DVD called, The Zoo. I’m also in Attempted Buglary created by Tobais of Empire.”
And just like in her role in “The Day Before Heaven,” actress Jasmine Thomas brought robust energetic energy to the conversation. The vibrant Texas bread thespian plays “Sister” in the play. Her on stage and off stage light heartedness make it clear to see why she was selected to be the neighborhood do-gooder.
EGL: How were you selected for the role of Sister in the play?
“Last summer I worked on a play, Sister’s Keeper with Publicist Cordelia Donovan and Producer Dedra Tate. Since then I’ve kept in contact with these two lovely ladies. Earlier this spring, I attended an event where Dedra told me that she had a friend, Crystal Johnson, who was auditioning for a play that she had written. So I came and auditioned. They loved me! The rest is history.”
After speaking with the cast, it’s easy to see their familial like bond. We hope to see a lot more of them in the future.
Crystal shared some final words with EGL before she went to prep for the next show.
“The best part of this challenging process of producing and directing is having fun and creating. The Day Before Heaven has allowed me to be in a position to put a smile on the young actors faces. When I was on Broadway I was their age. For some of them it is their first time. It’s beautiful to see the light in their eyes.
We are getting ready to take The Day Before Heaven on tour. I have some people in Japan who are interested in bringing the play over there. This is a workshop production. We have plans to showcase it in 5 U.S. cities including L.A, Chicago, Las Vegas, Atlanta, and here in New York. We’re going to rock this out for a minute!”
Be sure to catch this spirited production when it comes to your city!
Written By Tawana C. Coleman