Zeola Gaye talks about her play “My Brother Marvin”

Theater — By on May 21, 2013 at 4:57 am

Zeola Gaye.

The man behind the music

By Kim Webster

April 1, 1984 was a sad day remembered around the world. It was the day that Marvin P. Gaye died.  We didn’t want to believe the radio and television broadcasts, this could not be true.  Music fans mourned his passing with the passion of losing a family member.  In reality Zeola Gaye, Marvin’s younger sister lost a brother. “He and I were the closest of the siblings,” she said.  Her book “My Brother Marvin” and excerpts from her Mother and Father’s personal diaries and memoirs are the basis for the stage play.  Older sister Jeanne found the diaries and memoirs which provided insight into their parent’s relationship, childhood and things they had not told their children. “I want people to know that what they see from this play, they can take it to the bank and know that they got the truth.” She describes the play as a “dramatic piece not a musical.” Marvin’s music is not featured in the play, but there is a concert featuring the characters of Tina Turner (played by Lia Grant who also plays Tammi Terrell), Gladys Knight, and Teddy Pendergrass. “I’m telling the story about my brother, Marvin, the man behind the music.  I’m telling things that nobody would ever know. Things that went on in my household that led up to that awful day and why.”  She decided to do the play because of “a lot of things that are coming out that will not be accurate like the movie Sexual Healing. My play is strictly to share the truth with the people and Marvin’s fans.”

Prominent playwright Angela Barrow Dunlap assisted Zeola in what she describes as a “fast paced, exciting” play.  “It’s entertaining and it’s sad.  The bottom line is there was a tragedy. That’s what I’m hoping to prevent, if I can, with anyone else.”  The play focuses on three important aspects of Marvin’s life as described by Zeola, “I have three Marvins in the play, I have Marvin who started in the church (played by Javier), the Marvin that started at Motown (played by Tony Grant), and Sexual Healing Marvin (played by Keith Washington). Clifton Powell plays my father and the most wonderful, talented Lynn Whitfield plays my mother.  The cast is really excellent and I believe when people see the play they’ll leave with something.” She wants the audience to understand how alcoholism and drugs can destroy a family. “My family was dysfunctional and there was a lot of addiction going on; alcoholism and drugs even down to myself.  I’ve been clean for 11 years.  I want people to recognize what went on in my household.  Maybe they can reach out and help someone that they love and care about and what happened in my family won’t happen in their family. I feel Marvin’s blessings on me; I know I have God’s blessings. I know I would not have been able to come this far without His blessings.”

“My Brother Marvin” opens at Pantages Theater 6233 Hollywood Blvd.  Hollywood CA  90028 on May 23rd – 25th 2013 and May 26th 20013 at the Terrace Theatre 300 East Ocean Blvd Long Beach CA  90802.  “Doing this play is very therapeutic for me.  I found some closure and I hope that anyone who sees the play will also find closure,” said Zeola Gaye.

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