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FAMU alum, professor take one-man ‘Sugar Ray’ play to off-Broadway

Andrew J. Skerritt

Reginald Wilson rehearsing for his Sugar Ray Robinson role in New York City.

Florida A&M University professor Luther D. Wells and alumnus Reginald L. Wilson are taking “Sugar Ray,” a one-man show about legendary boxer Sugar Ray Robinson to an off-Broadway theater.  

The two conducted rehearsals in December on the FAMU campus as they prepared for the opening of the 90-minute production based on the life of Robinson, considered to be the greatest pound-for-pound boxer of all time.

The play opens Friday night, Jan. 7, at the Gene Frankel Theater in New York City and is scheduled to run through Jan. 23. 

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Wilson, a Tallahassee native, former Marine and a father, seemed fated to play the legendary boxer. When he was working at a New York City restaurant location once owned by the former champion, many customers mistook Wilson for Sugar Ray Robinson, who was depicted in a mural above the bar.  

Florida A&M University professor Luther D. Wells is teaming with and alumnus Reginald L. Wilson to bring “Sugar Ray,” a one-man show about legendary boxer Sugar Ray Robinson, to an off-Broadway theater.

“Sugar Ray was an entertainer; he was flashy; people loved him as a person. No matter what Sugar Ray did, people loved him,” Wilson said. The essence of the person being portrayed is a man who was strongly influenced by the women in his life but  failed by the people he trusted.  

“Sugar Ray had a mother who pushed him to do his best. When no one else believed in him, she pushed him,” Wilson said. “Sugar Ray had his issues. He died broke. People who don’t know him think he partied all his money away, but he trusted the wrong people.” 

Reggie Wilson as "Sugar Ray," set to open Jan. 7, 2022 at the Gene Frankel Theater in New York City and scheduled to run through Jan. 23.

Robinson’s story has contemporary lessons. Many athletes and entertainers are swindled by their managers and accountants, Wilson said.  

“It’s still happening today,” he added. “This story allows Sugar Ray to explain the triumphs and failures of his life and what he was going through.”

Actor’s FAMU journey

Robinson’s topsy turvy life and career resonate with the actor. Wilson attended FAMU for about a month in 1994 before dropping out. 


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