The Tallest Tree In The Forest

Theater — By on April 22, 2014 at 7:55 am

Cover and Inside photos- Daniel Beaty delivers a masterful performance in "The Tallest Tree In The Forest." Both photos by Craig Schwartz.

A One-Man Historical Performance For The Ages

By Buddy Sampson

American history is selective in its representation of many African American icons, and that premise was a major theme of the dynamic production, “The Tallest Tree In The Forest,” playing at the Mark Taper Forum.

Daniel Beaty delivers a stirring, one-man performance in the portrayal of African American icon Paul Robeson in the theater spectacular. Beaty is masterful, displaying a wide range of talent, from singing in the profound voice of Robeson, to doing a picture perfect representation of the characters that shaped Robeson’s life and American history, which seemed to ignore Robeson’s tremendous accomplishments. The presentation, through Beaty’s interpretation of Robeson’s turbulent life, illuminated the struggle of an artist’s life, versus an intellectual life, peppered by the specter of racism. Beaty chronicled Robeson’s life by an effective and authentic use of voices, including Robeson as a child, his speeches as an adult and his active protests against the inhumane practice of lynching, prominent in the South, even until the 1960s.

Several celebrities were spotted in attendance on opening night, including Actors Obba Babatunde and Roger Gueneur Smith, Actresses Dawnn Lewis, Hattie Winston and Kat Kramer, and recording artist NeonLuv, among others. Dawnn Lewis, best known for the television show, “A Different World,” is starring in a new Hallmark release, “A Lesson In Romance.” Check your local listings for The Hallmark Channel. Hattie Winston, best known for her role in the TV show “Becker,” will be appearing in a play at the Rubicon Theater in Ventura and is writing new material for future productions.

“The Tallest Tree In The Forest” is a must see for a historical perspective of African American history.  Daniel Beaty has captured the essence of Robeson, with a timeless performance of the ages.

Featured at the Mark Taper Forum, 135 N. Grand Avenue, Downtown Los Angeles, until May 25, 2014. Visit for more information and tickets.

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