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Karen Clark Sheard, 4 time Grammy Award winning singer joins the cast…

Picture of Karen Clark Sheard, 4 time Grammy Award winner

L. Arnold Productions is proud and pleased to announce that Karen Clark Sheard is joining the cast of When The Child Cries. Ms. Clark-Sheard is an American gospel four-time Grammy Award winning singer, musician, and songwriter. The youngest daughter of pioneering gospel choral director Mattie Moss Clark, Sheard began her career as a member of the Grammy-Award winning, gospel legendary female group, The Clark Sisters. She is the mother of contemporary gospel singer and actress Kierra “Kiki” Sheard. We hope you will join us to see this exciting and inspiring performer!

National Iota Foundation Launches Nationwide Scholarship Tour of the play, ‘When the Child Cries”, Written and Directed by Lee Harris, at Boston Conclave, July 20, 2011.  The tour consist of 200 cities nationwide.

As part of the nationwide tour, “When the Child Cries” will be performed at Rowan University on November 5, 2011 at 7:00 pm in the Pfleeger Concert Hall.  No other shows are schedule for New Jersey in 2011.

Billed as The Electrifying and Phenomenal Gospel Musical, the play written and directed by Lee Harris is a relevant social commentary you won’t want to miss.

Glassboro playwright launches nationwide tour of play

By Bob Shryock/Gloucester County Times 

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Photos provided by GHS Photography Club
Lee’ Harris performs in his production of ‘When the Child Cries.’

Leroy “Lee” Harris launches an exhaustive national tour of his play “When the Child Cries” Friday and Saturday nights at Pfleeger Concert Hall fittingly on the campus of Rowan University — his 1974 alma mater.

How exhaustive? The Glassboro playwright’s five-act family-oriented production is already scheduled to be presented in a minimum of 50 cities with the possibility of at least double that, and a potential touring time frame of two to three years. Plans are to follow along the northeast corridor first before moving west.

“I’m elated,” says Harris, a Glassboro High School graduate and All-South Jersey running back. “This is a blessing, and I get a chance to pass my blessings forward.”

Called by at least one reviewer, possibly “the next Tyler Perry,” Harris was asked this summer by the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs Inc. to consider taking his play on the road as a benefit for its regional scholarship funds.  Harris jumped at the suggestion.

The association is established in regions. Harris said he will take the play to “every major city in each state of each region.”

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LEE HARRIS Writer and producer

Written and directed by Harris, “When the Child Cries,” is the spiritual account of a woman and her child and their efforts to survive in a large city after living in a protective environment in the south.

It’s a statement of social struggle and addresses the audience to the importance of accountability, productivity and contributions to their environment, according to Harris.

Described as being “affirmative, alive and real,” its mission is to enhance, enrich, support, motivate, encourage and empower the youth of today.

Harris says his play is “visibly different” than when previously presented. “The musical is more theme-appropriate and spiritual. Four gospel singers have been added, providing a rich theatrical and musical experience.”

The well-schooled Harris, attended graduate school at the University of Michigan in the Department of Speech Communication and Theatre, the University of Iowa in the Department of Speech Communication and Dramatic Arts, and is currently a 3.9 student in Rutgers’ graduate program and has a degree in a sociology degree from Rowan, is an award-winning producer, director, actor and an entrepreneur. The versatile Harris  also performs in the play as Uncle Hucklebuck.

Other local actors include Kimberly Spencer of Franklinville, who portrays Sophie, the mother; Pastor William D. Carter, of Bensalem, Pa., as Jesse; 11-year-old Mikayla Garnett of Chesilhurst, who plays Nikki, the child; Derrick Dolphin of Delran, the bartender; and Rev. James C. Jones of Camden, who plays himself.  Several will tour with the show.

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Above and below, Lee Harris as Uncle Hucklebuck with Rev. James C. Jones as himself.

Harris parcels out praise to many:
Rev. Jones “for always being there.”
Rev. Ronald Tucker, Mt. Olive Christian Church in Glassboro, “for spiritual guidance.”

Rev. Clabon Bogan, First Baptist Church, Deptford, “for guidance and technical assistance.”

Rev. Bernard Bunn, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, “for trusting the project to his church.”

Dr. Raymond Gordon, senior pastor, St. Matthew’s Baptist Church, Williamstown, also for trusting the project to his church.

Dr. J.T. Mills, assistant director of Rowan’s multicultural affairs office, who “started the journey with me and believes in the project’s mission.”

Dr. Delores M. Harris, former president of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, who took the play’s portfolio to the NACWC convention.

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Will Gallon, GHS teacher, for technical support and expertise.

Deanna Ford, production manager.

Dan Spencer, director/musical coordinator.

Harris says, “these are the people who have supported me.”

Besides the Rowan premiere and other regional bookings in Garden State venues, the play is scheduled for stops in Atlanta, and Chicago.

Glassboro playwright helps others find salvation

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Pictured is Lee Harris playing the character of “Uncle Hucklebuck,” in the production of “When the Child Cries.” Harris is the play’s writer and director.

“When the Child Cries,” Glassboro resident Lee Harris’ one-of-a-kind gospel music drama which is now being viewed on a national stage, entered uncharted waters last week at Rowan University’s Pfleeger Concert Hall when, Harris believes, it became the first theatrical production in which audience members left their seats and came to the front to be saved during the last act.

The play, which uses real-life clergy as cast members, has been performed six times at Harris’ Rowan Alma mater since March 2010 and has been seen by more than 4,000 people. In the most recent performances, 13 members of the audience came to the stage to be saved.

“It was an extraordinary, inspiring thing to see,” says cast member Bishop Mark Brown of Camden’s New Covenant Fellowship Church. “But I wasn’t surprised at all.”

“After one of the September 2010 performances, I was on my way to my car when a young woman walked up to me and asked if I was the pastor in the play,” says Rev. James C. Jones of Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Camden.

“She said she had wanted to come to the stage that night but was afraid to in front of all the people in attendance. She said she wanted to be saved and asked me to do it for her. We went through the sinner’s prayer and she was saved on the spot.”

Then, during two early February productions, 13 audience members, young and old, stepped forward.

“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing when Rev. Albert Morgan (Union Baptist Church in Bridgeton) invited the audience to come onto the stage for the altar call,” says writer-director Harris. “There were people literally running down the aisles to get to the stage. They were saved during the performances to a cheering, standing ovation. It was truly a profound and moving moment.”

Harris believes “never in theater history has a play on any stage, in any forum, actually saved souls during a performance,” he says.

“When I first wrote ‘When the Child Cries,’ it didn’t have a spiritual overtone. The final act was in a church, but we didn’t use real clergy and we didn’t invite the audience to come on to the stage to be saved. I’m in disbelief each time we do this play now and see people actually coming up to the stage for their personal salvation. It’s very humbling. I find myself praying with each one. It’s an awesome experience. It’s all about salvation. Cast members are in awe. And the audience is very moved.”

Harris, a former Glassboro High School star athlete, received a call the morning after the Feb. 5 performance from the mother of one of the young adults who came to the stage to be saved.

“She told me her son was having a difficult time with addiction and other social problems. She said when her son saw promotions for the play he asked her to take him. When the show got to the altar call, he jumped out of his seat, bolted to the stage, and was one of those saved. From the stage we could hear a voice screaming, ‘that’s my son … that’s my son.’ The woman who called me said the voice was hers. Then the phone went silent …”

Harris received numerous e-mails including this one: “You are moving mountains, Lee. So proud of you.”

And this one: “What an awesome salvation experience. Congratulations to the new converts. Remember to take one step, one day at a time.”

Bishop Brown calls it “a great play,” adding, “Lee is phenomenal. He’s relentless getting people involved, and he works tirelessly.”

As part of its 100-city “Jesus Is Love Tour,” Harris and company will have its final New Jersey performance on Friday, Feb. 25, 8 p.m. in the Walter K. Gordon Theater on the campus of Rutgers-Camden University.

“Each stage that we perform on around the nation, we present as a first, as people will continue to come onto our set to be saved,” Harris says. “I’m honored to be able to present my play as a forum for salvation and humbled by the opportunity that God has given me to do His will. I’m committed to continue on this directed journey.”

After Rutgers-Camden, the show heads to Jackson, Miss., Houston, Atlanta,  Washington, D.C., and four North Carolina cities  before  performances in New England and a cross-country swing.