We remember notable figures in history, but they are only a small percentage of the people who have contributed in some way to our nation’s fortitude. Sadly, a good many of these people who have given their lives for this country, or who have fought to make it great, or who have stood up for their rights get lost in history.
And that’s what Virginia Rep’s production of Buffalo Soldier wants you to remember.
Written by Bruce Miller, founding producer of Virginia Rep, the show focuses on the story of Jones Morgan, one of the Buffalo Soldiers that fought in the Spanish American War and led the way up Kettle Hill. Morgan, who was living in Richmond when Miller met him, was only fifteen when he joined the group and served in Cuba with Teddy Roosevelt. Morgan tended Roosevelt’s horses, Texas and Rain-in-the-Face.
Because he was so young, there were no records of his service and often people wouldn’t believe he was actually a member of the Buffalo Soldiers, a group of African-American regiments formed in the 1860s. At the age of 106, Morgan found himself under siege from a reporter who falsely claimed that Morgan wasn’t who he said he was. At the same time, people in Morgan’s community here in Richmond who believed him were working to help him obtain his veteran’s benefits.
Miller has written a play that is near and dear to his heart, and it shows. The play speaks to the emotions that ebb and flow over loss and remembrance. The play made U.S. history itself after 9/11 for being the first professional play to be presented in the Pentagon. And once you see the play, you’ll understand the deep and enduring meaning that it has for that tragic day and beyond.
The show is beautifully acted and flows seamlessly from scene to scene. Actors Anthony Cosby, Adrian Grantz, Josh Marin, and Thomas E. Nowlin play multiple parts in the show, and each gives a powerful and honest performance.
Jim Bynum shows the strength and character of Jones Morgan, a humble individual who is proud of his past. Bynum’s performance is laced with grace, dignity, and sincerity.
The play is being presented at The Children’s Theatre at Willow Lawn, but make no mistake, this is not solely a play for children. The underlying sentiment is relevant to anyone – remember all those people who have made contributions, not just a chosen few, and hold those memories close.
Buffalo Soldier runs through February 26 at Virginia Rep’s Children’s Theatre at Willow Lawn. The show is for all ages and recommended for kids about seven and up.
Visit Virginia Rep for tickets and showtimes.