The North Carolina Black Repertory Company (NC Black Rep) will produce Coconut Cake by Melda Beaty, April 4-14, 2024, at Hanesbrands Theatre, 209. N. Spruce Street, Winston-Salem, NC. Coconut Cake tells the story of four retirees who spend their days debating the mysteries of life over coffee and games of chess at a local McDonalds. But when a mysterious woman moves to town, tempting Eddie Lee and his chess buddies to indulge in melt-in-your-mouth coconut cakes and medicine cabinet secrets, their lives are changed forever.

Coconut Cake will be directed by Nathan Ross Freeman, Co-Founder of Authoring Action, a nonprofit arts education & outreach organization dedicated to developing youth authors. Nathan who served as the first NC Black Rep Playwright-in-Residence from 1985-1995, shared the following on the project:

“To be invited to direct NC Black Rep’s Coconut Cake inaugurates a moving reunion. Melda Beaty’s play celebrates McDonald’s ritual inner circle of elder Black Men who carouse in its alcoves sharing their world views while conjuring their deepest inner secrets.”

The cast will be headlined by Nathan Purdee, best known for his twenty-year run on the popular soap operas, The Young and the Restless and One Live to Live. Joining Purdee will be Brian Cager, Andre Minkins, Philip Powell, and Ralph Shaw. Set and Light design is by Jennifer O’Kelly, with Costume Design by Frenchie LaVerne, and Sound Design by Jasmine Williams. The Production Stage Manager is Kevin Hampton.

Winner of the Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin Rolling World Premiere Award at the 2022 National Black Theatre Festival, Coconut Cake will receive additional productions at Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe in Sarasota, The Ensemble Theatre in Houston, Hattiloo Theatre in Memphis, and the St. Louis Black Rep. The award was created by NC Black Rep to discover and develop new African American theatre classics, while promoting collaboration between African American theatre companies. Playwright Melda Beaty reflected on the importance of the award being named after IBTF Executive Producer Emeritus Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin:

“I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin in 2019, when my play Front Porch Society enjoyed a mainstage production during the NBTF. I remember how her smile conveyed her delight in my work. Three years later, my second play, Coconut Cake, won an award in her name. I am humbled and honored and will remember her smile with each production.”