Tyler Perry’s ‘Laugh to Keep from Crying’ coming to Pittsburgh

When Tyler Perry has something to say, you listen.

His latest message comes as an exhortation: “Laugh to Keep from Crying”—Perry’s 11th stage production will arrive in Pittsburgh, at 8 p.m, Nov. 7 at the Petersen Events Center on the University of Pittsburgh campus.

THE CAST—Five members of the cast, not in order, are Palmer Williams Jr., Chandera Currelley, Cheryl “Pepsii” Riley, D’atra Hicks and Theo Williamson.

In typical Perry style, the play features a creative mix of heart-wrenching drama interspersed with laugh-until-you-cry humor and phenomenal musical performances.

Earlier this year, the celebrated actor, writer and producer—whose rags to riches story is what dreams are made of—took Hollywood by storm with his two No. 1 box office hits: “Madea Goes to Jail” (February) and “I Can Do Bad All By Myself” (September). “Laugh to Keep from Crying” is set in the midst of an inner-city neighborhood, with a bird’s eye view of an apartment complex managed and owned by a pot-smokin’ superintendent named Floyd, played by Palmer Williams Jr. (Tyler Perry’s TV sitcom “House of Payne” and the stage play, “The Marriage Counselor”).

The plot revolves around the lives of four different families. There’s a single mom with teenage kids in search of their father’s identity (much to their mother’s dismay). A newly-wed couple—that happens to be White—make their home on another floor. A widow tries to survive lean hours at work, while dealing with the loss of her loved one for so any years. Still another individual—tastefully referred to as “a lady of the evening”—makes her abode in the neighborhood. And the apartment supervisor, whose main priority is collecting rent, does little or no work to maintain the building.

Joining Williams in the neighborhood are an ensemble of Perry veterans and newcomers, including: Cheryl “Pepsii” Riley, D’Atra Hicks, Chandra Currelley, Tamar Davis, Stephanie Ferrett, Donnie Sykes, Chris Cauley, Rachel Richards, Theo Williamson and Greg Stewart.

Earlier this week, prior to completing back-to-back performances in Philadelphia, Williams discussed the traveling show with The New Pittsburgh Courier.

“We are depicting something totally different from past productions. [The play] presents a relevant look at some of the dilemmas facing the nation today,” he said.

“Mr. Perry knows the pulse of America right now…the things that are very important and foremost in our lives.”

His unique vehicle explores economic woes, from unemployment to lost pensions, along with consideration of the challenges involved with raising teenagers in an out-of-control society and the fear of loneliness.

As always, the insightful playwright hits home with a redemptive message of love, respect and courage to succeed against all odds.

Tickets for this special event may be purchased at the Mellon Arena Gate One Box Office and Ticketmaster outlets at select Macy’s, Giant Eagle, FYE, Dorsey’s Record Shop and Stedeford’s. To charge by phone call 1-800-745-3000. For group tickets call 412- 242-4167. Online information and tickets: www.ticketmaster.com or www.tylerperry.com.


Floyd (Palmer Williams, Jr.)—The weed smokin’ landlord and entertainer of the neighborhood. Floyd is everyone’s business, at all times, but keeps it all together.

Belinda (Chandra Currelley)—A kind and caring widow that has a word of wisdom for everyone in the neighborhood. She catches a bad break with retirement, but in the end gets a big surprise.

Carol (Cheryl “Pepsii” Riley)—A good-looking, strong, hard-working, single mother with two teenagers to raise alone and a bunch of heartaches.

Neicey (D’atra Hicks)—“Voila”—A wild and expressive neighbor who “works all night,” but not your regular job…looks for redemption and respect in a new life.

Lisa (Tamar Davis)—A disobedient teenager searching for her father… wants to be on her own like Neicey.

Tony (Donnie Sykes)—An extraordinary teenager gifted and destined to be great; strong and protective of his mother and younger sister.

Anna (Stephanie Ferrett)—A poor, little rich kid; newlywed who is striving to make her husband happy, but naïve to ways of the neighborhood.

Peter (Chris Cauley)—Mr. Cool newlywed working hard to become a lawyer and make an impact on the world.

Mrs. Wilcox (Rachel Richards)—A “hoity-toity” who is very menopausal… afraid of the neighborhood, but is able to maintain herself with the “home boys.”

Donnie (Theo Williamson)—A cop who acts like “Sergeant Friendly” from “Sanford & Son.”

Eddie (Greg Stewart)—A gangster pimp who is bad for everyone involved.

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