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In his career as a former Metrobus driver, Keith McDaniel Sr., 53, witnessed all sorts of colorful characters in living detail. He found the daily interactions playing out before him so intriguing, he started carrying a notebook on his bus routes. On breaks, he would make note of experiences he witnessed and the emotions he felt, whether laughter, reflection or sadness. Unbeknownst to McDaniel, his journey to becoming a playwright had officially begun.
On May 20-21, 2023, “He Creeps” made its debut at Publick Playhouse in Cheverly, Maryland. A comedy centered around the dynamics of romantic relationships of people of color, the play is the culmination of a seven-year dream for McDaniel of 3rd Eye Open Productions.
Much of the cast and crew, in their first theatrical production, expressed gratitude for 3rd Eye Open Productions highlighting and uplifting local talent.
“[This production] gives people an opportunity to be showcased, who otherwise wouldn’t be seen,” said lead actress Dr. Rita D. Lewis, 46, of the District’s Office of Cable Television, Film, Music, and Entertainment (OCTFME). “This is an inclusive platform that ensures that everyone grows creatively. We are no longer waiting for someone to create a lane for us. We are going to Issa Rae our own destiny.”
Even veteran actors got a chance to flex their artistic muscles for this play. Daytime Emmy nominee Tia Dae, 45, of Nu Dae Entertainment, made her directorial debut in “He Creeps.”
“A lot of talent originates in D.C. but has to go elsewhere to be recognized on a higher level,” she stressed. “Our goal is to plant a seed that will spread. Though it is challenging to build a team of new actors, the rewards of seeing these actors’ talent, growth and journey into becoming a unit has been one of the highlights of my career.”
Delonta Richardson, 42, indicated that being in a play for the first time is the culmination of a lifelong dream.
“To have a Black writer, Black director, all Black cast? That’s amazing,” he exclaimed.
Richardson honed his love of the arts by reenacting television, movies and commercials throughout his childhood.
“I became gifted at mimicking anything I heard,” he said. “Acting in this play challenged me because even with that experience, I was not used to reading a script and working with other live actors.”
In the end, the hard work of the cast and crew paid off. When it was time for the artists to take their final bows each night, the audience took to their feet – giving them a standing ovation.
Latoya Felton, 47, drove all the way from Georgia just to see the play.
“I laughed so loud until I thought people were staring at me. I didn’t even want it to end. I loved the characters, they were awesome! They were so believable until I felt like I knew them.”
“He Creeps” returns to the Washington, D.C., region for its fall production in October.