Merced County Times Newspaper
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Local stage talents deliver powerful Freedom’s Song performance

The cast of Freedom’s Song on stage at the Merced Theatre.
The cast of Freedom’s Song on stage at the Merced Theatre.

After rehearsing for only a week, an exceptional cast of local actors gave an emotionally-charged performance of Freedom’s Song to an appreciative audience last weekend at the Merced Theatre.

The production, written and directed by Dr. Kim McMillon, was free for community members to attend as well as stream. The cast included, Michelle Allison, GB Blackmon III, Cheryl Lockett, Necola Adams, Loretta Spence and Jeshamon Volkerts.

Freedom’s Song is a historical and musical adaptation of the story of George Washington Turner and his family in early America, based on the research of his descendant, Dr. Dale Allender, a professor at Sacramento State University. Freedom’s Song tells the story of men, women and children who strived to live a better life in spite of slavery and a society designed to keep them down.

Dr. Allender told the Times he was very pleased with the production.

“Dr. McMillon and the actors took my collection of facts from research and family stories and rendered them into art and poetry,” he said. “They allowed my ancestors to live in the hearts and minds of all in attendance.”

Michelle Allison, who played Martha Fletcher (Turner), remarked: “I remember a time back when it was said that there were no black love stories. In this production, even in death, there was such beauty in the words that came forward. I was honored to be a part of it. I honor and respect the talents of each individual who participated in this great work. Thank you to both Dr. McMillon & Dr. Allender for such beautiful work.”

GB Blackmon III, who portrayed George Washington Turner and Pastor Allen, had this to say about his experience in the production, “It was a pleasure working with so many talented singers and artists. This show was a wonderful way to honor such inspirational ancestors. I’m glad I was asked to be a part of this experience.”

Cheryl Lockett, who played Olive Fletcher, said: “It was truly an honor to participate as a cast member alongside other seasoned artists. Moreover, any production that Dr. Kim McMillon has a hand in has always been a stellar act. Furthermore, meeting Dr. Dale Allender, and connecting with the stories from his research that were actually experienced by his ancestors, for me was an extraordinary experience. Every word uttered and breath taken, held a symphony of emotion and carried the weight of passion.”

For those interested in this project, a film based on this research is currently in development.

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