Houston gospel play addresses gays in church

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HOUSTON, TX- The Pope says homosexuality and the church don’t mix. Whether or not you agree, the topic stirs up a lot of drama!

So what better subject to build a play around, right? That’s exactly what Charnele Brown did. You might remember her as Whitley’s girl Kimberly on the TV show “A Different World.”

Now she’s brought her many talents to H-town with a gospel play called “Love and Fire.” Brown wrote, directed and stars in the show about a prominent pastor who discovers his child is living on the “down low,” or “low-down” as one snooty character in the show describes it.

University of Houston grad Kedrick Brown plays the flamboyant Gerald, son of Charnele’s character. We wondered if he had any qualms about “goin’ there.”

“What’s really inside of me is inside of Gerald,” says Kedrick. “Unconditional love– no matter who you are, what you are, as long as you know who you are and what you are, nothing else matters.”

Acceptance– a great message!  In fact, it’s the message of the show.

But why here in Houston and not New York or Los Angeles?

“Houston is the next Hollywood,” the youthful Charnele says with a sparkle in her eye. “The talent is amazing! It’s so vast, it could be Anytown USA here in Houston, Texas… or in Texas period.”

One of those talented Texans is the buffed-up lead actor Andre Pitre. He met Charnele when they were doing a play together. Now they’re business partners in Tri-Wen Productions, as in ‘try until you win.’

“We clicked,” says Andre. “I don’t have any sisters, so it’s like she’s a female version of me because we’re both go-getters.”

BET fans might recognize the handsome Pitre from his movie “Heaven Ain’t Hard to Find” or his stage work with Tyler Perry, but he’s also an accomplished singer-songwriter. In fact, he put together the music for this show.

But you can’t talk about the show without mentioning the character of “Momma Mae,” the wise, old (and maybe a li’l crazy) mother to everyone. Evangeline Gabriel Young, a Houston actress who’s been stomping stages across town from the Wortham to the Ensemble for 20 years, plays her with relish. She says of her character, “I love everybody, but I can get everybody, but I choose to do it in love.” Then as if taken over by the character, she cackles, “Momma Mae gonna give it to ’em! Yes, I am!!”

Check out “Love and Fire” February 9th and 10th at University of Houston Cullen Performance Hall. You might just love it… unconditionally.