Arts Listings

‘Whatever She Wants’ Opens at Paramount

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Tuesday October 09, 2007

Featuring Richard Roundtree—“Shaft” on the silver screen—and TV star Viveca A. Fox in her theatrical debut, Whatever She Wants, a romantic comedy by Je’Caryous Johnson, is onstage this week, Thursday through Sunday, at the Paramount Theater in Oakland. 

Boris Kodjoe (from Madea’s Family Reunion and Soul Food), “L’il G” (from Silk) and Scruncho (from BET’s “Comicview”) round out the cast. 

In the play, Fox’s character, Vivian Wolf, opens a private club where single women can meet men who have been screened: “No baby daddies, no bad credit, no pot bellies—and no living with your mama.” 

Roundtree plays Fox’s father Theodore. “I love the storyline,” he said. “It’s a black family trying to make it in America. What a novel idea.”  

Roundtree, with his resonant voice, has “always sort of fallen into the authority figure,” he said. Best-known for his signature film role, he began onstage as a member of the Negro Ensemble Company in New York, playing Jack Johnson in their production of The Great White Hope. “That need to hear that hand-clapping,” is how Roundtree credited his origins in live theater.  

Whatever She Wants is just one example of the newer touring romantic comedies that have provided a venue for black film, television and recording stars. Coming out of the musicals and “gospel dramas” that were a hit with audiences in the ’80s, these broad, sitcom-like stories told with humor appeal to a broad spectrum of spectators, including devout church-goers, due to their moral and social messages.