MANATEE — Playwright Tyler Perry of “Madea’s Family Reunion” fame creates characters that make his audiences laugh and later, perhaps, make them think.
Local playwright duo Clatha Reaves and Katie Johnson have tried the same formula with their writing.
The pair recently co-penned “Girl That Outfit Is You,” a short play that pokes fun at the sometimes rather irreverent characters found at church on a typical Sunday.
“Girl That Outfit Is You,” which stars Carmen Shorey, Inez Webb and Johnson, will be debuted during “Sunday Excellence,” a smorgasbord of dramatic events beginning at 4 p.m. Sunday at Community Outreach Word of Deliverance Ministries, 650 27th St. E., Bradenton.
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Besides the roughly 20-minute play, the church has assembled men and women to model Sunday-best clothing and other outfits for special occasions during a segment called, “Hats & Fashions.”
There will also be a lineup of solo performers, including both singers and dancers followed by refreshments to entertain what church officials expect will be a crowd nearing 200.
Tickets for “Sunday Excellence” cost $10 a person and all the proceeds go to raise money for the Community Outreach Word of Deliverance’s Women’s Conference, set for Nov. 4-6.
Community Outreach Bishop Dexter N. McDonald and his wife, Herma McDonald, have seen bits and pieces of the play during rehearsals and applaud its message.
“I think the play brings out how important and special every individual is in God’s eyes,” Bishop Dexter McDonald said. “We are all greater than the sum of our parts.”
Johnson laughs when describing one scene in the play where two women are sitting in a back pew, whispering about people as they walk into the church.
“Every house of worship has these folks I will call the busybodies,” Johnson said. “They are nosy and sit and gossip about everyone walking in, but then clap for them as they walk by.”
Playgoers will recognize other characters that every church seems to have as well, including the “chatty” deacon who rattles on and the “hush now” deacon, who makes sure every one is quiet during the service, Johnson said.
“I think one of the messages of the play is that, in the end, it’s not about us, it’s about Jesus,” Johnson said.
Johnson’s co-writer, Reaves, and her co-star, Shorey, are both being borrowed from Mt. Raymond Full Gospel Church in Palmetto.
Johnson and Shorey met through Johnson’s daughter and the pair became instant friends. Their chemistry carries over to the stage, said fellow co-star, Webb.
“Katie and Carmen both are gifted performers,” Webb said. “They have fun out there and make it all come alive.”
The three actors will also be on the catwalk, modeling outfits during the fashion part of the show.
Putting an emphasis on developing the creative talents of its members is nothing new for this church, which started in 1993 to help youths in crisis and has been at this location for 31/2 years.
After meeting in Bishop Dexter McDonald’s physical therapy offices on Manatee Avenue West in the 1990s, church members rented space in various locations before being able to build in 2006 on the land it bought on 27th Street East, just a block south of the intersection of State Road 64 and 27th Street East.
“This is the kind of church where people just drop in from the neighborhood and we are there for them,” Webb said. “We feel God’s children have to love each other.”
The church’s “100 Men For Change” offers troubled boys mentoring from adults in education, employment and recreation alternatives.
The mentors help the boys with everything from how to find goals and talents to how to dress for a job interview.
“Our purpose as a church is to educate and strengthen men, women and children by increasing their knowledge of God’s word so that they may become spiritually, academically, socially and economically strong,” Bishop McDonald said. “We want our members to be productive citizens in our society.”
A typical 11 a.m. Sunday church service is also filled with singing, dancing and creative ways of praise, said Johnson, who recently joined the church.
The church is also known for a lively Bible study at 7 p.m. every Wednesday.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 748-0411, ext. 6686.
IF YOU GO
What: “Girl That Outfit Is You”
When: 4 p.m. Sunday
Where: Community Outreach Word of Deliverance Ministries, 650 27th St. E., Bradenton
Information: (941) 750-0513