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“The Eleventh Hour” Presented by 4PALS Production

By Amy Ahern
On February 23, 2017

The congregations of Briar Creek Baptist and Lilly Grove Baptist
Photo Courtesy of Amy Ahern

On February 9, Concord University graduate Vain Colby brought his play “The Eleventh Hour” to the campus. Directed by Thomas Lester, the production was performed by the theater troupe 4PALS. This non-profit organization was formed in 2009 by four friends, Vain Colby, Skip Crane, Jim Jenkins, and Thomas Lester. According to the organization’s mission statement, 4PALS’s goal is to bring “original plays and musicals to the stage and promoting the arts through community involvement.” 

    The play features two segregated Baptist churches, one black and one white, and how the hour of 11 o’clock on Sunday morning may be the most segregated one of the week. Reverend Morgan Davis III, played by Colby, and Reverend Harley Dalton, played by Tom Helton, were the leading roles. They were accompanied by a supporting cast, including Sandy Schweinruber, Karen Harvey, Julie Hurley, Janet Williams, Beverly Philips, Amanda Buchanan, Trevor Barber, Skip Crane, Nanette Esters, Shawn Williams, and Kiwanis Watterson. 

    Set in the present day, the play opens with two separate worship services at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday. Reverend Morgan Davis III preaches at the Briar Creek Baptist while Reverend Harley Dalton preaches at Lilly Grove Baptist. In a tragic twist of events, the Briar Creek Baptist gets destroyed by a flood, leaving the parishioners with no church. At the invitation of the pastor at Lilly Grove, the Briar Creek Baptist parishioners start attending Lilly Grove Baptist. Although each pastor faces their own personal issues, they try to find a common ground for these saints and sinners to come together to worship their God. 

    One of the more poignant points this performance made was indicating how, even today, we are largely segregated. Over the course of this play, the parishioners learn the valuable lesson that, regardless of color, people are more alike than they are different. Producer Skip Crane says, “This work of art is so timely for America. I think everyone who sees this will know what I mean when they exit the theater after the show.” 

    The play addresses issues that are continuous today, even some we may be blind to. This is why Crane believes that this work of is timely for America. For sophomore Trisha Lee, the play was incredibly impactful. “I really loved the play because this showed real world issues that are being ignored today, such as racism, lying, cheating, and even blackmailing,” she said. 

    Lee’s overall favorite characters were the Baldwin sisters played by Janet Williams and Beverly Philips. The two characters relay an especially powerful message for the audience, along with endless jokes and mischief. “The Baldwin sisters had to be my favorite characters because they were so funny, although a little bit of trouble makers they initially in the end turn a new leaf and change their outlook,” Lee says. 

    Sophomore Anthony Flotz was also awed by the production, “I hadn’t heard of the play, but my girlfriend wanted to go, so I went with her. I thought it was a decent play that had a simple and enjoyable plot that was executed well,” he said. Overall, Foltz thought bringing a production like this to Concord allowed people to come that might not have otherwise. “The message of the play was fairly obvious and handled in a very ‘Tyler Perry’ type of way. It was full of an antiracism message, while also using comedy to positively impact race relations,” Foltz said. 

    The performance was emotional, energetic, and powerful. The large audience was left breath-taken by the music, the actors, and each individual story, as well as by the underlying message. 

    Vain said he hopes that everyone who watched the play learns from it and can pour the message they received into their own lives. “Writing ‘The Eleventh Hour’ has been a labor of love that has taken me 18 months to complete. The folks at 4PALS ask that you take a clipping from this plant and grow in your own community,” Vain said.

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