Director Cleo King’s must-see ‘Love History Workshop’ informs and empowers

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Black History Month comes alive in Sherman Oaks Sun., Feb. 25

Review by Carin Chea

A blank canvas greets us before show time, with only two chairs living onstage.  One minute, the audience sits languidly, completely engrossed with our smartphones. But that all changes once Cleo King, the director of Love History Workshop, appears.

To know King is to love King.

She literally emerges onto the stage and greets each audience member with a warm embrace. By the show’s start, every audience member is smiling.

A small but very mighty ensemble of six powerful performers enter and bless us for the next 60 minutes with a collaboration of song, dance and word that King refers to as “our contribution to Black History Month.” The small cast is as impactful as a Greek chorus, yet each actor maintains striking individuality. Each actor masterfully embodies the mind, spirit, and personalities of various African-American innovators, inventors, and influencers – all of whom are heroes.  But this cast does more than educate. They take us deeply into the personal lives of these figures.

Through expert storytelling, the actors re-live how glorious it was for Hattie McDaniels to become the first-ever African American entertainer to win an Academy Award. True to their craft, they also reveal how soul crushing it was for her to reside in a “No Blacks” hotel every single day after she finished shooting her scenes for Gone With The Wind.

We all observe Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday around January 15, but have you ever sat in Coretta Scott King’s living room, when she and her young children had to spend their first Christmas without their husband and father?

Heartbreaking, tear-inducing and beautifully triumphant, Love History Workshop is a true celebration of Black History Month. To witness this performance is to witness the boundless limits of human perseverance and courage.

You must see this show.

“Love History Workshop” is on stage Sunday, February 25, 7pm, at the Open Stage West Theater, located on the second floor of the Oakridge Plaza, at 14366 Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks. Call (818) 789-8662.

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