“Inspiring” is a word often used by critics to describe the work of Obie-award winning actor, singer, poet, writer and composer Daniel Beaty. In his compelling one-man shows, Mr. Beaty combines the musicality and rhythm of slam poetry with humor and dynamic oratory to create memorable characters and scenarios with a powerful message of hope.
This Friday, July 27, Mr. Beaty will bring his latest show, “Through the Night,” to Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs for one performance, followed by a Q&A session. The show, which enjoyed a run at the Riverside Theater in New York City, among other places, is being presented here as a benefit for The Vineyard Playhouse.
In “Through the Night,” Mr. Beaty plays a child scientist, a young man from the projects on his way to college, an ex-convict, a corporate executive, a health food store owner, and the bishop of a mega church. The show is not merely a series of character sketches. A storyline connects Mr. Beaty’s multiple personas and brings the show to a stunning conclusion. His characters all experience an unexpected phenomenon on the same evening that changes their lives forever and challenges them to tackle their various issues.
New York Magazine called Mr. Beaty’s show, “Funnier than most serious plays and vastly smarter than most funny plays.” Anita Gates in The New York Times described Mr. Beaty as, “Performing with his signature wit, grit and piercing lyricism,” and said the show “is punctuated with lines that cut deep and evoke tears of unexpected hope.”
Mr. Beaty draws on the people in his life in creating his characters. He has previously documented his own rise to success in his show, “Dark Chocolate,” which follows his journey from growing up with a heroin addict father and a brother who was addicted to crack cocaine to discovering his purpose by watching Dr. Martin Luther King, and graduating from Yale University.
Mr. Beaty also holds an MFA from the American Conservatory Theater and is an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University. His work has been produced at theaters all over the country, including New York’s Public Theater and the Geffen Theater in Los Angeles. Among his many awards, he was voted best new writer at the Edinburgh Festival. He has performed with Sonia Sanchez, Jill Scott, MC Lyte, Mos Def, Tracy Chapman, and Deepak Chopra.
Mr. Beaty’s two most recent projects are a children’s book and a spoken word ballet.
Monina Von Opel, who is producing the show, saw Mr. Beaty perform in New York a few years ago and has followed his career since with the intention of some day introducing his unique talent to Vineyard audiences.
Ms. Von Opel has spent a lifetime working in the arts. A former stylist for French Vogue and Glamour, the Chilmark resident spent many years working with an off-Broadway theater in New York City. Presently she is on the board of the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival and helps curate the MV Hospital’s permanent art collection. In the past Ms. Von Opel has produced shows for The Vineyard Playhouse and The Yard, including performances by Spalding Gray, Andre Gregory, Yardley Smith, and the comedian Reno.
Monina von Opel presents “Through the Night” by Daniel Beaty, 8 pm, Friday, July 27, Union Chapel, Oak Bluffs. $35; $75 premium; $150 patron. vineyardplayhouse.org.