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Angie Le Mar's taking her show back to the stage

CENTRE STAGE: Characters Andrea and Johnny during one of the show’s scenes

ONE POWERFUL legacy established by the Windrush Generation is its churches, and it is this aspect of their lives celebrated and highlighted in Take Me Back, a gospel musical written by leading comedienne and playwright Angie Le Mar.

Following a sell-out three week run of Take Me Back at the Stockwell Playhouse in April, plans are now in motion to stage the production in Luton, Birmingham, Sheffield and London during the next three months.

The first stage run of Take Me Back received rave reviews. BBC London Live presenter Vanessa Feltz called the production Angie’s best drama.

People from the black church community, including Premier Gospel’s Lady T, said: “What a show! I thoroughly enjoyed it. It made me laugh with tears.”

John Fisher, founder of MOBO Award-nominated choir IDMC, called it a “brilliant night of entertainment” and church leader Dr Kevin Kerr encouraged churches to support the production.

Le Mar, who is the first black British woman to achieve success as a comedienne, is pleased with the response to the play and that it gave her a chance to honour the Caribbeans who migrated to Britain in the 1950s and ‘60s, founding churches on their way. She said: “Much of 2018 has been spent talking about the Windrush Generation, celebrating their contribution to Britain as well as the Windrush scandal.

Take Me Back focuses on black church worship styles and music, amidst the backdrop of music, laughter and drama. It had a great reception when first staged in London and it just made sense to take it across the UK. People will get to hear the songs and get insight into some of the struggles young and old faced as they tried to apply their faith to their everyday experiences and painful personal issues.”

Take Me Back tells the story of Andrea and Patricia, two young girls who grew up in London’s black church community in the 1980s.

The strictness of the church, coupled with the two girls’ painful life experiences caused them to leave the confines of their faith, and follow their own life path which was filled with pain and disappointment.

Amidst their struggles, the two girls don’t lose their faith, and find themselves going back to the church of their youth to find solace and acceptance.

FAITH: Angie Le Mar has reconnected with the church

The church played a major role in Le Mar’s life while growing up and, looking back, she can see the good in the place where she spent much of her childhood – and it’s been her desire to write a play about the church ever since she recommitted her life to God six years ago.

Le Mar grew up in a churchgoing Caribbean family – her mother was an evangelist and her father a deacon.

Finding the church strict, she left church at 15 to pursue her dream to become a comedienne and along the way also worked as a radio presenter, TV host, playwright, producer and director.

Last year, Le Mar published her debut book, Full Circle, an autobiography of her life. Her hope is that Take Me Back reminds people that if they ever feel overwhelmed by pain and stresses of life, there is a place for them in the church – and that they enjoy a good night out!

Take Me Back was staged in Luton at Luton Central Library on October 5, and continues its run in Birmingham on October 7 at the Crescent Theatre; Sheffield on November 3 and 4 at Sheffield Central Library and in London from December 4-15 at Stockwell Playhouse.

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