Tag Archives: Millennium Centre



The hit Broadway Ossie Davis play, “Purlie Victorious,” was adapted into a musical in the 1970’s and became a hit sequel to the original comedy.  The New McCree Theatre in Flint, Michigan, hired Buku Productions’ Artistic Director, Reuben Yabuku, to commute North to direct the classic musical production of “Purlie,” for their patrons and with their area performers.  The result was so explosive that Reuben decided to partner the New McCree Theatre and Buku Productions Theatre Company to co-produce this show for Buku’s Detroit area patrons.

The Flint audiences packed into the New McCree Theatre to see this funny and highly entertaining musical.  The sold-out crowds were extremely energized and excited by the superb cast of performers and the singing by all eight lead singers (Johnnie Person, Jon’Tise Samuels, Gwen Hemphill, Tezell Morris, Cliff Thurlow, Billie Scott-Lindo, Travis Thurlow, and Terence Grundy), the background vocal support by a marvelous trio of pit singers and an outstanding live band led by Music Director, Richard Battle.






SL_Choir_On_Walk_Him_Up Purlie_Singing_Pride_To_Lutiebelle Purlie_Singing_New_Fangled_to_Lutiebelle Purlie_Missy_Crying Purlie_Lutie_Singing_Ten_Feet_Tall Purlie_Lutiebelle_Singing_Together_Once_Again_Wide Ol_Cap_Gitlow_Heart_Strain

Purlie Victorious Judson is a man who fled the South during the Jim Crow era, because he wasn’t good at “staying in his place.”  The play opens with Purlie returning home with a scheme to swindle Ol’ Cap’n Cotchipee out of $500; the amount of the inheritance he feels Ol’ Cap’n stole from his family.  However, the plantation owner may not be as easy to persuade as Purlie thought; not when it comes to parting with Ol’ Cap’n’s first love: money.  The fun really heats up as Purlie and Ol’ Cap’n, both as stubborn as can be, match wits.


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Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round

Presented in 2004 at Paul Robeson Theatre and in 2005 and 2007 at Millennium Centre, Buku Productions Theatre Company’s production of “Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round” was written and directed by Artistic Director, Reuben Yabuku.  The story line and a couple of songs in the show came pretty quickly to Reuben as an inspired piece of work.


The entire staging for the show was done fifteen years prior to the script being completed, because he couldn’t find the right songwriting partner to create the songs and music for the Gospel musical about the political career of Dr. Martin Luther King.  When Reuben commissioned Patricia Grant of Inkster, Michigan to help write the songs, magic happened.  Pat finished writing the needed songs in a couple of weeks and the birth of this stylized musical production, finally, was ready to be mounted and hit the stage.  It’s become a perennial production for us.

LNTMR_Funeral LNTMR_Beret LNTMR_Armond_Dancers LNTMR_MLK_Reporter LNTMR_Choir Jenita LNTMR Photo-Reuben As MLK Protest-Dancers MLK-At-Pulpit Jenita-solo Armond-Surrounded-By-Choir


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Moms Mabley The Naked Truth

“Moms Mabley The Naked Truth” began in 1999 as a pre-season co-production between Buku Productions Theatre Company and Detroit Repertory Theatre.  The one-woman show, starring Linda Boston as “Moms,” was a complete 100% sold-out production. This revealing and hilarious look into the professional and personal life of Loretta Mary Aiken, better known as “Moms” Mabley, brought about side-splitting laughter as well as tears. Moms’ first cousin and 25 other members of her family attended a Detroit Rep performance of “The Naked Truth” and, thank goodness, they absolutely loved it!  Most of the Aiken/Hall family members who attended that show are spotlighted in a group pic featured in our photo gallery below the video excerpts.


The premise is a supposition of “Moms’” reaction to how Black entertainment pioneers were being looked back on as buffoons in blackface instead of those courageous and oppressed performers who paved the way. Written and Directed by Buku’s Artistic Director, Reuben Yabuku, this popular play was performed again in 2001 at Millennium Centre, U of M/Flint (the week of “911”) and reprised again at Millennium Centre in 2002.

Moms Mabley-Waving Moms Mabley-Smiling With Mic Moms Mabley-Pointing Singing-On-Bench             Swinging-Legs             Moms-Family             Frisky-Dancing             Comical-Parody             collage


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