The Beggars’ Strike
The Beggars’ Strike is set in Africa, with a largely black cast. (It’s Black History Month, after all.) The show also offers a gentle sidelight on Islam, with dawn prayers and bowing toward Mecca. And it’s a musical, with singing and dancing. However, the music by Noah Agruss is largely mood-inducing, almost trance-like. It’s far more abstract than the pushy sing-a-longs on Barney & Friends, but the music is a solid contribution nonetheless.
As the title suggests, the play is about beggars. It indicates that when you give honestly to the poor, they carry your message to God. It’s not a concept you’d think youngsters could quickly grasp, but by intermission on opening night, the kids were bopping in their seats. (The music? The message?)
The cast features Mujahid Abdul-Rashid as an ambitious government functionary (Sacramento appeal) who learns life lessons. Gloria Stingily plays his wife, with Danielle Moné Thrower as their daughter. (Thrower is fresh from a fine performance in And the Dream Goes On!) Lico Whitfield is funny as the eager police chief. James Wheatley, a local treasure, is a fine beggar/holy man. Anthony D’Juan is his blind antagonist. Dave Pierini does a silly, paunchy “happy Buddha” cameo, and Ashlyn Kei, a rising local actress, catches your eye as Jili.