King of Stage: The Woodie King Jr. Story; The Star Maker

98 min. Juney Smith, Rainbow Media, juneysmith466@gmail.com. 2018. DVD UPC 051497034634. $24.99. PERFORMING ARTS
OrangeReviewStarAn authentic and riveting story of Americana and black culture, director/producer Smith's chronicle of one of the unsung heroes of theater wisely stays out of its subject's way as Woodie King Jr. intimately unfolds his cinematic life through direct narration. Sometimes personal stories told in this manner can wander offtrack, but not in the hands of a skilled storyteller such as King. Libraries hold a special place in King's heart, becoming a second home to him as a young black man when they provided a safe environment to search for free and easily available knowledge and information. After being dazzled by Sidney Poitier in The Defiant Ones, King learned that Poitier had studied at the American Negro Theatre, begun in New York's Harlem, and public branch librarians allowed the founders to perform in the library's basement. King connected the lyrics of the blues traveling the Great Migration to the same dramatic trail and language of the Black Arts Black Theatre movement.
VERDICT Like all great stories, they are best when told by those who lived them. An essential addition for all collections.
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