The death of Trayvon Martin has thrust race relations back to the top of America's list of conversation topics. But Carlos Heredia hopes for discourse that doesn't just happen as a result of violence. He wrote and directed a musical that he hoped would help create it: Then Sean Met Khalid, showing this Saturday at the Crossroads Theater. It tackles many difficult issues, but does so with levity, wit and, of course, music.
The show centers on a young black man who has been adopted into and raised by a white family. After watching an interview between Sean Hannity and the late Dr. Khalid Abdul Muhammad, African American activist and former chairman of the National Black Panther party, Sean White -- no coincidence there -- begins to examine and question the normalcy of his relationship to the people around him.
Heredia started his company in 2006 after he took a part time job as a janitor in his own former middle school, only to find that the beloved arts programming of his youth had been cut; his next step was an easy choice: "I got together with a few teachers, wrote a play, put it together after school, and the rest is history." Through the company, he sparked an interest in the arts, started candid conversations, and kept kids busy.
Until now, Heredia and his company have been performing the show in a warehouse converted to a theater in Boulder. But Heredia wanted to perform in Denver as well, so he sought out a space and found a home at the Crossroads, a venue that almost closed in 2010 but was instead taken over by the City and County of Denver.
"How much time do you have?" Heredia jokes when asked what he hopes audiences will gain from the experience. "It's hard to say just one main thing. The purpose of the show at first was to give white people a non-white experience, and what happened with people of color who see the show is that they felt validated."
It's pretty ambitious, but Heredia seems equal to the task.
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Then Sean Met Khalid shows twice this Saturday, April 7, at 3 p.m. and 7:30, at the Crossroads Theater. For more information, or to get tickets, go to Hip Hip Heredia or the Crossroads Theatre website.