NJ native to star in play at Soho Playhouse in NYC

A’ndre Davis

NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. — A’ndre Davis will be starring in “Man of the House” throughout October, every Saturday at 2 and 5 p.m. and every Sunday at 2 p.m., at Soho Playhouse, 15 Vandam St., New York City. The multitalented artist could revel in the opportunity to present one of his own creations in Manhattan, but for him and his team, it’s also an opportunity to relay a message to the public about domestic violence.

“They’ve already previewed it a few times at college campuses and had a good response,” said Cynthia M. Horner, the publicist for this production and the chief executive officer of Right On Digital, in an interview with Union County LocalSource on Monday, Oct. 3.

“Afterward, the college students talked and said people have to be more respectful to other people.”

The play premiered in West Orange in August 2014 and sold out for four consecutive shows. Since then, it has been performed throughout the tristate area.

“Man of the House” is a dramedy that revolves around one man’s struggle to save his relationship and get his life on track, while the woman in his life runs the house and everything in it. He is a victim of domestic violence; though there is comedy in the play, it never centers on the abuse.

Davis plays the lead male role, in addition to having written, produced and directed the play.

“The production tackles domestic abuse, but in this one, the man is the victim instead of the abuser. It’s a different angle that we don’t hear about a lot,” said Davis in an interview with LocalSource on Monday, Oct. 3. “For this go-around of the play, I wanted to make it in conjunction with National Domestic Violence Awareness Month,” said Davis. “We’ve been running it since 2014. We normally do it four times a year. I wanted to do it in New York City.”

Performing in New York City is a big deal to Davis, and he is quick to explain why.

“New York City is the mecca of theater,” he said. “We’ve gone to Bloomfield College several times, as well as Rahway, and people said we need to do New York City.”

Davis has spent his life in Essex and Union counties.

“I’m originally from Newark,” he said. “I moved to Irvington, settled in South Orange, and I have a residence in West Orange and the business is in Union, A-Diamond Entertainment.”

“As far as stage plays, ‘Man of the House’ was my first,” continued Davis. “Since then, I’ve launched two one-act stage plays. ‘Is This What We Paid For?’ is usually run through Black History Month. It asks, If civil rights activists who died during the struggle were able to come back to present days to see how we as African Americans lived, would they think that what they sacrificed for was worth it or that it was all in vain.”

“My other one-act stage play is titled ‘The Breakdown,’ and it was written to go into schools,” said Davis. “Maybe for parents to watch it with their children after school. It says the breakdown in the home between parents and their children is a direct catalyst for these children falling into things like gangs and substance abuse and bullying, all three of which we address in this piece.”

Davis recognizes the advantage of having a captive audience for his productions, as it gives him the opportunity not just to entertain but to educate and elicit a response.

“Most of the productions that I currently have, they all do the same thing,” said Davis. “I have a short film also, ‘Attacked From All Angles,’ written during the COVID-19 pandemic. I knew I was going to move into film anyway. The George Floyd incident happened. I came across an article about the deadly weekend that they had in Chicago. It’s a short film that addresses Black Lives Matter and expanding the Black Lives Matter movement to not just include what happens at the hands of the police, but what’s happening in our communities as well.”

Here, he admitted he treads on risky ground, as people don’t always want to address what those who disagree with them might be thinking. But he said he sees it as an opportunity not just to point the finger at others but to turn the lens around and examine the community itself.

“When I think of some of the writers I look up to, particularly Spike Lee with ‘Get on the Bus,’ it was to show both sides of the coin,” said Davis. He says he sees problems with both violence by police against blacks and violence by blacks against one another. “They’re both valid. We need to attack both of the angles with the same intensity. We did win Best Short Film in the Kwanzaa Film Festival (for ‘Attacked From All Angles’ in 2021). It was pretty well-received.”
Right now, however, Davis said his focus is on his first and current play.

“‘Man of the House’ has evolved from 2014,” said Davis. “I’ve added new characters along the way, but the message is maintained to be the same. … We just finished the first weekend at the Soho Playhouse and it’s just as well received as in 2014.”

Davis says he has greater aspirations, as well as future plans for this play.

“On the play/film front, after this run in October, the plan for ‘Man of the House’ is to do a national tour,” said Davis. “We’ve used it at colleges and universities. We’ve used it as a way to present the topic. This Thursday, we’re going to Coppin State (University) in Baltimore.”

“Next year, we will stop at colleges and universities during the week and then, on the weekend, do a show for everyone,” continued Davis. “I’ve already written the film adaptation, and we’ll start filming in early spring 2023, and the plan is to be in the movie theaters by October 2023. I’m going to be the lead. I will resume my role. I do plan on using a lot of the people that I’m using right now. The guy who plays my best friend is now on Nick Cannon’s ‘Wild ’n Out,’ C. King. Monifah, who’s an R&B singer from the ’80s and ’90s, will also be in it. There are 12 of us in the cast.”

The play also features Pretty Ricki Fontaine. Featured celebrity guests in past performances have included singer Christopher Williams; J Boog of B2K; and Willie Taylor of R&B group Day 26, “Love & Hip Hop” and “Chocolate City: 3.”

As for Davis, he’s just looking for more avenues in which he can demonstrate his talents.

“I also sing,” said Davis. “Actually, we just opened the CAP Jazz Fest in the Hard Rock Cafe in Atlantic City on Sept. 17. I’ll be doing some more shows in between. I’m having so much fun right now. There was a time when one suffered because of the other, but now it feels as if God has literally opened the door for me to be able to do so much. I’m really enjoying the journey. I’m blessed to be able to do this. As indie creators, you’re pushing so hard that you forget to enjoy it. Acting, singing, directing, writing: I love it. The producing part is like, Where do I get this money from, how do I get people in these seats? It’s just a new space for me, and I like this space.”

To purchase tickets for “Man of the House,” visit sohoplayhouse.com or call 212-691-1555.

Photo Courtesy of Cynthia M. Horner