Face Off Theatre Company will present Mahalia, the story of gospel singing sensation Mahalia Jackson, on Feb 21 - 24 at the Joliffe Theatre in the Epic Center, Kalamazoo. It stars Christie Coleman, who recently played lead roles in Sister Act at the Kalamazoo Civic and in Dreamgirls at Face Off Theatre. Coleman says that like Mahalia, she grew up singing gospel music in her family's church. In her portrayal, she uses a combination of her own natural voice and some elements of Mahalia's style.
Director Marissa Harrington, a co-founder of Face Off Theatre, talks about its mission to put diverse stories and diverse characters on stage, to collaborate with other organizations in outreach efforts, and to get audiences involved after every show by offering "talkbacks" with the cast. Harrington says Mahalia, which opens Face Off Theatre's 2019 season, is an ideal story for Black History Month, noting the powerful second act features scenes between Jackson and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. which portray their friendship and shared dream.