Southampton Village Man Writes, Produces First Musical


As the curtain closed last year on the off-Broadway musical “Mama, I Want To Sing” at the Oberia D. Dempsey Theater in Harlem, Tramar Pettaway was inspired.

The show, which was written by Vy Higginsen and is about a church singer who makes it to the big leagues as a pop star, inspired the 24-year-old Southampton Village resident to write his own musical, one with similar themes but with his own special twists.

Now, a year later, Mr. Pettaway’s musical, “Just Hear My Song,” is scheduled to make its debut inside the 350-seat Southampton Intermediate School auditorium this Saturday, June 8.

“I had seen a play called ‘Mama, I Want To Sing,’ and her story is similar to everybody else’s story,” Mr. Pettaway said about the main character, Doris, who wants to be a professional singer. “I decided then that I wanted to write my own.”

“Just Hear My Song” is about a young man, Tyrell Jackson, who desperately wants to sing on a bigger stage than his local church—against his mother’s wishes. After sneaking into a local club, Tyrell is discovered by fictional pop singer Starlette Jones, who wants him to come on tour with her as a backup singer. The musical follows Tyrell as he decides whether to follow his dreams and risk disappointing his mother.

Mr. Pettaway explained that the moral of his story is that God will help guide those who are facing difficult decisions. Most of the numbers in the 10-song, hour-long production are spiritually based, and Mr. Pettaway penned three of them himself. The others he pulled from other popular movies and musicals, such as “The Wiz,” or are spiritual songs he heard as a child, like “Total Praise” by Richard Smallwood.

Mr. Pettaway said this week that the play, which he has performed at several local venues in the past, is not based on his life.

“The battle is not yours—it’s the Lord’s,” he said, explaining the message of his musical. “Do what you feel is right, and if you fall, get up and dust yourself off.”

The musical features a 14-member cast, most of whom are from the East End. Cast members have been in rehearsals since February, and are hoping to perform the show once a month for the foreseeable future. There will be a short intermission during the performance when Nikki Song, a local Christian contemporary artist, will perform three songs. Ms. Song, who is working on her debut album, “Battle Cry,” scheduled to be released in January 2014, also will perform in the finale.

“I am really excited,” Ms. Song said last week. “I am honored to be considered, and it is a great script.”

Tickets for the show are $12 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens. They can be purchased at the door, but can be reserved ahead of time by calling (631) 887-9324 or (631) 259-3838.

A portion of the proceeds will go toward Lucia’s Angels, an organization dedicated to helping East End families coping with late-stage cancers affecting women. The donation is being made in memory of Mr. Pettaway’s mother, Shonda Pettaway, who suffered from breast cancer and died in April at the age of 49.

“This show is for grown-ups, kids, senior citizens—even those who don’t have hope,” Mr. Pettaway said. “You will walk into this show feeling one way, but you will walk out another way and saying, ‘I can do this,’ or ‘I can do that.’ There will be something there for you.”

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