Thursday, August 11, 2022

Writer Re-stages Play ‘Under the Freeway’ with Ernest L. Thomas

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*Brandi Burks is a woman of action, and knows that in order to grow she has to push the envelope. That is why she is reprising her production of the play “Under the Freeway.”

And while the musical will still feature five original songs performed by vocalists such as Donisha Brumfield (who has been in all seven of Burk’s stage plays) Ulisa Ivey, Britt J, Spechel Cole and Danny DeLloyd all under the direction of music director Cedric Lilly, this time there is one new addition to the show.

ernest lee, under the freeway
Veteran Actor, Ernest Lee Thomas play the role of Lee, an ex-pastor who falls on hard times and ends up ‘Under the freeway,’ in the stage play.

Veteran actor Ernest L. Thomas will play the role of Lee, an ex-pastor who falls on hard times and ends up Under the Freeway.

“I thought Thomas would be a perfect fit for the role so, I approached him and he accepted,” said Burks, who conceived of the play after a conversation with a friend about how she fed the homeless. “The idea came to me to write about the hidden communities that live under the freeway.”

Thomas, with more than 30 years of experience in front of the camera, is best known for his role as Raj in the iconic television show “What’s Happening.”

He also co-starred as Mr. Omar in the television comedy “Everybody Hates Chris” and as Sidney X in the Spike Lee movie “Malcolm X.”

Burk’s new version of “Under the Freeway,” opens for a one-night performance Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. at City of Refuge church in Gardena.

Burks describes the play as a dramatic musical that features original songs performed by a seven-piece band.

What she wants audiences to take away from “Under the Freeway” is a willingness to think deeper about the homeless, and to realize that while people can all say where they’ve been, they don’t necessarily know where they’ll end up. And it could be under the freeway.

“Under the Freeway” tells the stories of those who ‘live’ in these encampments through love, laughter, pain and truth.

The production begins at 7 p.m. at the City of Refuge Church, 14527 S. San Pedro St., Gardena.

Tickets are $25 for general seating and can be purchased at Inglewood Tickets from Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; at the City of Refuge book store Monday-Thursday 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday/Wednesdayafter church service; or online at

For preferred seating and group sales or additional information, call (323) 600-7402.



Cynthia E. Griffin




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