Tyler Perry’s license to mint money shows no sign of expiring anytime soon if ever. He began making morality plays a bankable enterprise in 1999 with I Know I’ve Been Changed, established his franchise character “Madea” the next year in I Can Do Bad All By Myself, and the cash register hasn’t stopped ringing since.
Perry capitalized on the formula popularized by Michael Matthews’ 1990s hit Fake Friends: Take a protagonist tempted by sin, add a heavy helping of Bible-thumping dialogue liberally interspersed with gospel-message music, season with lots of humor, and bring to a close with the hero and heroine being saved by the Good Lord’s grace.
All but cornering the market, his only real competition being T.D. Jakes, Perry graduated from stage to film and now is the richest man in show business according to Forbes magazine, hauling down $130 million between May 2010 and 2011 alone. His latest triumph, The Haves and Have Nots, premiered in September, is touring the States, and swung by the Twin Cities November 8 and 9 at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis.
The Haves and Have Nots sketches the woes of a working-class family who, struggling to make the mortgage, find that you have to, as the Good Book says, “Walk by faith and not by sight” and, while you’re at it, the rich and wicked can be saved in your wake.
Saintly wife and mom Rose works as a maid for wealthy dimwit Louis and his faithless, gold-digging trophy wife Diane who, when Rose’s husband Frank comes to work there as a handyman, can’t keep her hands to herself. You can see the rest coming a mile away.
Will Rose and Frank lose their house when Diane gets them fired? Will Louis ever see the light of Seven-Up and do something about the little floozy? Fear not! Stand on the Word, have faith in the Lord and, plausibly or not, the bad guy will get his (rather, the bad gal will get hers), the deserving shall not go unrewarded, and along the way you’ll be treated to some of the most hellified sangin’ of sanctified sentiment known to man.
No one in the cast is much of an actor, but that’s not the point. Everybody can sing their butts off and does, especially Kislyck Hallsey as Rose.
Stitching the goings-on together with telegraphed humor are comedic talents Palmer Williams, Jr. as Floyd the smart-ass butler and Patrice Lovely as Hattie and Rose’s ancient, interminably irreverent, retired hooker of a mom. The fetching Alexis Jones plays that heathen of a heifer Diane, Tony Hightower is Rose’s hubby Frank, Maurice Lauchner is Louis, and Jeffery Lewis is Wallie, Rose’s and Frank’s teenage son.
You seen one of these shows, you’ve seen ’em all, and that exactly is the appeal. People know what they’re going to get when they come to a Tyler Perry production. If you want imaginative scripting, skilled acting, et cetera and so forth, go see something else. It’s like chitlins — you know what’s going to be on your plate before you sit down to the table, and you either like chitlins or you go eat someplace else.
The sizeable Nov. 9 audience at the Orpheum (the 2,400-seat venue was more than half full on a weeknight with seats going for $40) clearly had a strong taste for this fare. They showed up in good spirits, had a great time and went home happy — which is why Tyler Perry and his license to mint money are going to stay in pretty good shape for a long time to come.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.