*“Tyler Perry’s Madea Farewell Play” has launched exclusively on BET+, and finds Perry serving up the final stage run as the beloved Madea.
He pulls together some of the audience’s favorite characters for a family gathering, with Mr. Brown (David Mann), Cora (Tamela Mann) and Aunt Bam (Cassi Davis Patton) all under one roof for over two hours of laughter and joy.
As noted in the press release, “Madea is in rare form, as she tries to be a support for her great-grandchildren, and daughter Cora. While at her granddaughter’s home, Madea uses her combination of tough love and old southern wisdom to help the family navigate their new normal. All seems fine until Mr. Brown takes a trip that leaves audiences in stitches. As always, Perry’s blend of incredible music and laugh out loud moments make the Madea Farewell Play great food for the soul.”
EURweb caught up with the Manns to dish about reprising their characters and the show connecting with a new audience via the BET+ platform.
Check out our conversation below.
Talk about what it means to have gone on this journey with Tyler Perry and his final performance as his iconic Medea character.
Tamela: I hope it’s not the end. But it’s been a wonderful journey, connecting with him. We’ve been working together since 1999, and up until now. But we hadn’t been on stage in over 10 years together. So it was really a lot of fun coming together. But yet sad because he said it was going to be the end.
David: Yeah. It was a bittersweet moment for all of us because it’s like every night, you kind of see… Like she said, we hadn’t been on for 10 years, but you see what we were missing. It’s like, “Wow, this is what we love to do.” We love television. We love the movie stuff. But to hear that crowd reaction every night and just the feedback every night. And plus we were having so much fun that sometimes we would have to remember that we have an audience out there, we’re supposed to be performing for them. We would be performing for ourselves on stage to each other.
Tamela: Yes, just having a great time.
How would you describe the creative energy that Tyler Perry fosters on set or on a production such as this?
Tamela: Well, his creativity is incredible — even spontaneous… For him to just come up with something on the spot every night, it’s like we were waiting to see what he’s going to say differently. Because a lot of times the improv for him and David every night would be different. One would say one thing, and the other one would take it over.
David: And he had an infectious work ethic. It makes you want to do more. He’s a stickler for time. So that’s one of the things that, you know when he’s on set, it’s time to work. And the work ethic, it’s like, let’s get this work done. Everybody makes a joke like how quick he gets stuff turned around. But that’s just who he is. It’s like, “Let’s go work so we can all go play.”
Now that the play is available to stream for viewers on BET+, is it important for you as performers to go online and read the fan reactions?
Tamela: Well sometimes…. actually we don’t even get a chance to because family members and friends are calling us. We had a close friend, actually it was Kirk Franklin, call us and said, “Man, I stayed up and watched the show the other night.” So we’re getting responses from people before we can actually get online. We see some, but for the most part, we’re getting phone calls.
David: We get live reactions from our family and friends. But I like to go on sometime and just see the audience reaction. Then go on social media a little bit. But it’s just really fun to hear crazy lines that people grab to. I think the line from this one is that Big Freedia… For those of you who hadn’t seen the play, that’s a line in there that you’ll remember now that you’ve heard it.
Tamela: But I like the live part of it. Like I go to Sam’s and people stop me and say, “I’ve seen it, and y’all just crack me up in it. Y’all was the entertainment for our family this weekend.” So things like that. I like to talk. Get the one on one with people.
So for folks who have not seen the play, tell us about your characters. David, you play Leroy Brown. How would you describe him?
David: I’ve played the character for 20 years. So for those of you who watched, Mr. Brown is colorful, crazy, wacky… He’s one of those saved people that are just too saved.
Tamela: And then my character, Cora is the peacemaker. I’ve been the peacemaker. I’m always the one in between Medea and Mr. Brown. Trying to get them to stop arguing as usual. They’re always in an argument if they’re not in a physical fight. I’m the one who people are excited to see. It’s like, I’m excited to see them and they’re excited to see me. So I kind of bring joy into the bunch.
What would you say is the central theme of this play, family?
Tamela: I would say family. It’s all about family and in how everybody plays an important part. How sometimes, some family members feel like they’re not important. But what goes down in this play is Medea is explaining and talking to everybody that the role that you have is important. And just making sure that we’re all staying in our lane, and to just encourage everybody that you’re all important.
David: And also the theme of love. It’s finding that right love that’s for you and not settling or accepting anything that comes your way. And that’s one big thing that Medea sits and kind of takes us all to school on is, don’t just fall for anything. There’s somebody out there specifically made for you. There’s somebody made to love you.
Tamela: And don’t push that love away. A lot of times we have a tendency when people are showing us love and compassion, it’s almost like we can be mean. Or just really rough about receiving the love versus just basically just receiving it, taking it on. So those are some things that I think are very important in the show.
Do you think the narrative explored in this play can serve as a catalyst for healing for people struggling emotionally amid COVID-19?
Tamela: It will bring a lot of healing to us. Because right now we need the uplifting. You’re seeing so much negative in the world. This play is bringing joy and laughter. And for it to come out in the time that it came out, we had no idea that all of this would have gone down. Of course we’ve been facing police brutality all our lives, basically in our people. But right now to kind of lighten the load, I think it’s perfect timing.
David: It’s needed now. Especially laughter, laughter being medicine to the soul. Singing, and just the story. And people being locked in with this COVID, and everything else we just needed some good wholesome family entertainment.
Tamela: And we’re looking for whatever we can to again, lighten the load and bring laughter, and happiness of the mind. Right now it’s a lot of mental things going on and we just want to help lighten the load off the brain a little bit.
Do the Manns have any other ‘spirit lifting’ projects coming up that their fans should keep a look out for?
David: We do. Tamela’s working on new music right now, as we speak. She just released a new single.
Tamela: It’s called Touch From You.
David: We’re working on different content. We just finished shooting our new YouTube series, Mann Family Dinner.
Tamela: Go to it on YouTube on MannTV. But also we have a new show on BET. It’s called Assisted Living.
Do you play a married couple on the series?
Tamela: No. Actually it’s our same characters, Mr. Brown and Cora. Cora finds out that it’s this building or owner that needs assistance and investors. So I talk Mr. Brown into going and check out the facility first to see if he would be interested. And then once I come, I’m like, “This will be great for us to be a part of this establishment and to help build it.” And also to give Mr. Brown something to do. With Mr. Brown he’s so bossy. He was like, “I’m doing something every day. I have something to do.” So it’s like he’s spicy.
David: But yet loving. So Mr. Brown comes in and everything doesn’t run like he wants it to run. So he definitely lets everybody know that, “Hey, I’m the head investor in this, and it’s going to run the way I say it runs.” But what Mr. Brown doesn’t know is that the guy that he’s investing with is an old enemy of his from back in the day. But they have to work together because now he’s invested in this assisted living place. So now they have to try to make it work.
Tamela: And Cora is making them make it work.
David: J. Anthony Brown plays the assisted living owner. And it’s kind of crazy from there.
Tamela: It’s funny. But again, Cora’s standing in between Grandpa Vinny and Mr. Brown. I’m the peacemaker again. So I’m wondering when am I going to get some peace?
Tamela: But we’re really excited about the show and the setup for it. And it’s going to be a lot of laughter. So we encourage everybody to take the ride with us.
Lastly, is your art or music being inspired in any way by the civil unrest and social justice movements sweeping across the nation?
Tamela: You know, honestly it’s because I myself sing gospel music, and even with the plays and the television show, my character is around my faith, Christianity. And I think really, it just helps right now. We’re kind of helping be the buffer, to again, lighten the load. So really it just is magnifying it even more to try to bring hope and inspiration to people with the music and everything.
David: Tamela released the song called Touch From You. And in the particular song on the video, we’ve strategically placed some pictures of some of the people that have been killed in police brutality. And all of this stuff that’s going on. We didn’t want to do it where we just shoved it in your face. But we wanted to send some messages that like, look-
Tamela: That we feel them.
David: We feel the pain. We’re here. People look at celebrities and think that we have the answers. And that we have it all together. We felt the same pain that everybody else felt.
Tamela: And still feel.
David: And still are feeling the pain. And so it angers us as well. Sometimes we simply don’t have the words to say. Just like everybody else. We sometimes have to back up and try to gather ourselves because we know that our words, and what we say, can cause a little bit of stir if we say the wrong thing.