By Raven Jordan
New Jack City, the 90s hood classic, is hitting the stage in Dallas Feb. 3-4 at Texas Trust Credit Union Theatre.
The stage play, New Jack City Live, was adapted from the original film directed by Mario Van Peebles, but also goes deeper into the character’s backstories. Audiences will be transported back to the streets of Harlem, where drugs overran the community, and the lead characters take on a new struggle.
Je’Caryous Johnson, the writer and producer for the play, combines drama and musical elements that fans will recognize across scenes at the notorious Carter apartment complex.
Allen Payne, Treach, Big Daddy Kane, Flex Alexander and Gary Dourdan will star as G-Money, Nino Brown, Stone, and Pookie.
Dallas Weekly interviewed two of the cast members— Flex Alexander and Big Daddy Kane— ahead of their Dallas performance to see what viewers can expect. Here’s a portion of our interview.
DW: Tell me a little bit about what the audience can expect from this production.
FA: I say this all the time, New Jack City is not just a play, it’s an experience. So, they’re going to experience part of the movie with a little splash of Broadway, music, some dancing and also the iconic scenes and lines from the movie.
BDK: I feel like the audience ought to feel like they’re a part of it, as opposed to when you watch a movie, you’re watching scenes and you’re listening to music in the background. I think this is the type of thing where you feel like you’re actually in the scene, and you feel like they’re singing to you. Like Flex said, it’s definitely an experience.
DW: Is it all from the original script, or was some of the production modernized for today’s audiences?
BDK: You have a lot of the original script, but the unique thing that Je’Caryous did is he gave backstories. So, you know about Nino’s past, you know about G-Money’s past, Kiesha’s past. It’s stuff that you may have wondered when you watched the film. Now you’re understanding how these people met.
DW: What’s it been like being able to take it from the big screen to the stage?
FA: It’s been fun, it’s been definitely different. But I think we had more room to do more things. Once you see the actual production set, stage, lights, screen, this is really high value props and lighting. I think this is probably the most Je’Caryous has probably spent on a production set, so that alone is going to give you something that the movie didn’t give you. It’s like you’re gonna be in the Carter apartments, you’re going to be at the basketball courts, you’re going to be at the crack house. So, it’s like right there.
DW: How did you prepare for the stage adaptation?
BDK: Lots of stale donuts.
FA: I kind of tapped into stuff that my family went through. My mom struggled with cocaine abuse, and I had two brothers that were on crack bad. So I just tapped into the things I saw. Just their mannerisms and different things they did. So I kind of just merged that together with also when they went through recovery, and so I saw what that world was like.
DW: How would you compare performing on stage to being in a movie or show?
BDK: It’s different because in a movie, you can say “cut” and do the scene over if you make a mistake. On stage, you can’t do that. It’s a one shot deal. So, you either get it right, or you improvise. And I think that is an experience that really sharpens you as an actor, so I’m enjoying this and learning so much.