The Crusader Newspaper Group

“The Divine Nine” – A play with strong Gary ties

A new play coming to the Glen Theater – “The Divine Nine” – provides the most entertaining look at Black fraternities and sororities since Spike Lee’s movie, “School Daze,” and features a production with deep roots in Gary and Northwest Indiana.

“The Divine Nine” focuses on the nine prominent Black Greek-Letter organizations in the context of the compelling social issues of the day – particularly pertaining to African American millennials. The two act play is a comedy with an important message, according to State Rep. Vernon G. Smith of the Glen.

Proceeds will partially benefit the Gary African American Achievers programs established to offer a positive track for youth in and around Gary. The program assists young people in succeeding academically and socially.

Dr. Smith added, “We are proud to host the play not just because it is extremely entertaining and has gotten great reviews, but because it involves several individuals from Gary who are excited about returning home with the production.”

There are four Gary natives involved in the play.

The playwright and producer is former Post-Tribune and Gary Info writer-editor Vernon A. Williams, and a weekly columnist for the Chicago-Gary Crusader News-papers. The Gary Roosevelt graduate was also host of the “The Breakfast Club” on WLTH and served as Station Manager for WGVE 88.7 FM in Gary for a decade. Williams is currently IUPUI Communications Strategist.

A lead actress in “The Divine Nine” is Alaina Renae, a Gary native recording artist whose first CD – “The Introduction” – reached No. 4 on the Billboard “Heat Seekers” Chart and was a top selling album on Google Play and Amazon. Alaina’s powerful vocals embody her gospel roots. She has performed with R & B stalwarts Al Green, Bobby Brown, Kem, Tank, Blackstreet, and Monica.

Another lead performer in “The Divine Nine” is Anjelah Evans, a graduate of the Gary Emerson Performing Arts Academy. The gospel music artist has a list of plays to her credit throughout Chicago and Northwest Indiana. The Ball State University alum performs around the country and is a featured soloist regularly at her “home church,” Mt. Zion Apostolic in Indianapolis.

Gary Emerson drama instructor for a quarter of a century Charla Booth is the play’s Creative Director. In addition to directing numerous successful stage productions in Chicago, Northwest Indiana and Indianapolis, Booth has been technical director of the Historic Madame C.J. Walker Theater and guest director of the Indianapolis NAACP production, “The Little Rock Nine.”

The play is Saturday, June 30th at the Glen Theater. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Tickets are available from participating local chapters of the Divine Nine, online at or at Beautiful Things in the Village Shopping Center at 3570 Village Court, Gary. Call 219-985-8256 or 317.457.8779 for information.

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