By Bob Evans
Regular Fringe entrant, Br. John again sings and performs to capacity crowds with his blend of biographical insights into legends of the R&B genre–this year’s treat–Marvin Gaye.
“If I Should Die Tonight” tells the back-story of Motown legend Marvin Gaye and his struggle with drugs, reality, pressures to succeed, and domestic insecurities that plagued his childhood and adult life. From the material presented by Br. John, a long history of physical abuse by Marvin’s father, a Pentecostal pastor included a steady stream of violence, beatings, bruises, criticisms, and the painful oft heard comments that his “father” was not really his father. Such continued comments by Marvin’s dad meant that Marvin’s dad questioned his wife’s virtue and the connection to Marvin.
The story also claims that Marvin’s pastoral father carried on countless affair with women but had the audacity to question the marital vows of Marvin’s mother. As such, Marvin felt lifelong insecurity because of his father, who eventually shot and killed him. Marvin, Br. John claims worked hard to sustain his success, carve out a name for himself, and reward his mother with a new house as his fame grew.
Other nuggets of Marvin Gaye’s life are spoken as the show progresses as Br. John moves from commentary to performance and back again. Rest assured, the Marvin Gaye hits are forefront in the show and the audience leaves on a high note and not depressed, even the sad story leads to Marvin’s death.
According to info about the show, Br. John wrote: “ A haunting and mesmerizing glimpse into the mind of the late, Motown superstar, soul singer–Marvin Gaye as he reflects upon his life, an hour prior to his untimely death. B John portrays the complex and often misunderstood artist, recreating not only many of his hit tunes but also, his lesser known, prolific ones as well. He reveals the monumental effects of Marvin’s drug addiction and manic depression stemming from the childhood pain of yearning for acceptance and love from an estranged, abusing, minister father.”
From the KC Fringe info: “From “Best Of Fringe Show” winner-Br. John. In the wake of his untimely death, R&B/Soul legend-Marvin Gaye receives a celestial invitation to appear on a mysterious, afterlife, music, talk-show. Along with performing his mega, hit songs, Marvin has a candid, one on one, life review with God. Not only he confronts the source of his addictions. But, must face and release painful, memories of childhood abuse that burden his soul and keep him in the fear of never being good enough to be accepted.”
Br. John appears as Marvin Gaye. “If I Should Die Tonight” also features guests vocalists Bryan Austin and Suzette Woods. Guitar accompaniment is by Rick Cole.
Tags: KC Fringe Festival, Kansas City Theater, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment, “If I Should Die Tonight”, The Pearl