Circle City theater enthusiasts extended a warm and familial welcome to the capricious and clever comedy of David Mann and the triumphant vocals of his wife Tamela recently at the Madame Walker Theatre Center.
Best known for their roles as Brown and Cora in Tyler Perry dramatics, the couple brought an exclusive, sidesplitting, foot-stomping, hand-clapping production that woke up Naptown.
Entering stage left with his sui generis version of “When the Saints Go Marching in,” David brought the crowd to tears, positioning himself as a “run-a-way” model and even offered to take off his shirt and just wear his suspenders.
The loud green patterned pants, yellow shirt, white suspendered character is loosely based on the actor’s grandfather, seniors David met at the nursing home, “and just out of my deranged mind,” he says of his witty birth child.
However outrageous and shocking in his theatrics David still manages to keep it clean and within the limits of holiness. “There’s just so much funny stuff that goes on that you don’t have to curse and talk nasty,” he says, of the character that even had the ability to discern the weave wearers in the crowd by the sign of increased itching.
Hilariously funny, David’s act was not without serious tones and testimonials. “They tried to give me da’ sugar,” he said of his bout with the disease, which affects 2.7 million African-Americans each year (American Diabetes Association). “But the God I serve is bigger than diabetes.”
After three months working out his faith in a gym and changing his diet David returned to the doctor where his healing was confirmed. “Well, I don’t know what you did,” said his Indian doctor, “but you don’t have diabetes any more.”
His healing is apparent, seeing that a slimmer Brown’s breakin’, poppin’, lockin’ moves busted the face of a youthful and skilled female competitor as they battled to the “This Is Yo Granddaddy” remix.
Giving way to his “best half” of 20 years, the gracious and beautiful Tamela Mann made her way to the historic stage, rendering melodies from her sophomore project the “Live Experience.” Gazing into the heavens, her angelic voice, changing the atmosphere, proclaimed that there is “Safety in His Arms.” Not forgetting her roots in the Church of God in Christ Tamela’s brilliantly arresting a capella rendition of Smokie Norful’s “I Need You Now” turned into “I Need Thee, Oh I Need Thee,” right before her triumphant closure with “You Deserve My Praise.”
Tamela’s songs are but testimonies of the many things the Lord has done for her and David. “You look at us now, but you don’t know our then,” she said. Akin to David, Tamela has wrestled with health issues, only hers was a direct assault on her gift. Prior to recording this most recent project the enemy attacked her vocal chords. After a visit to the ear, nose and throat specialist, the husband and wife duo determined to press on even if it meant that David would have to edit any faux pas in studio.
But God, “the anointing showed up. She sang and we didn’t have to fix nothing,” said her loving and supportive husband. “I’ve heard her sing for over 20 years and still the anointing is as fresh now as it was then.”
Yet the glory of God revealed is even greater in their lives when coupled together. The Manns belted out the final melody together but not before taking a moment to encourage married couples in the crowd.
“We’ve been married for 20 years without separations,” said Tamela.
“There was a time when I tried to leave but my truck wouldn’t start,” said David, bubbling over with laughter.
Indivisible and in total agreement, the dynamic duo just completed filming the initial episodes of “Meet the Browns” the television show. “I really thank God for Tyler,” says Tamela of the mogul who she and David have traversed the industry with since 1999. Continuing to flow together in the Spirit, “Meet the Browns” the television show airs on TBS beginning Jan. 7 after “House of Payne.” The Manns also star in “Madea Goes to Jail.” The movie hits theaters Feb. 20.