THE STORY: A moving and celebratory musical play in which hats become a springboard for an exploration of black history and identity as seen through the eyes of a young black woman who has come down South to stay with her aunt after her brother is killed in Brooklyn. Hats are everywhere, in exquisite variety, and the characters use the hats to tell tales concerning everything from the etiquette of hats to their historical and contemporary social functioning. There is a hat for every occasion, from flirting to churchgoing to funerals to baptisms, and the tradition of hats is traced back to African rituals and slavery and forward to the New Testament and current fashion. Some rap but predominantly gospel music and dance underscore and support the narratives. The conclusion finds the standoffish young woman, whose cultural identity as a young black Brooklyn woman has been so at odds with the more traditional and older Southern blacks, embracing hats and their cultural significance as a part of her own fiercely independent identity.
“Taylor pulls off a Hat Trick: She scores thrice, turning CROWNS into an artful amalgamation of oral history, fashion show, and musical theater…Hats off to Regina Taylor for a considerable achievement.” —TheaterMania.com. “…wholly theatrical…Ms. Taylor has created a show that seems to arise out of spontaneous combustion, as if a bevy of department-store customers simultaneously decided to stage a revival meeting in the changing room.” —NY Times. “Warm, wise and wonderful.” —Star Ledger.