'Home,' an uplifting story about American history, coming to Long Beach's International City Theatre

LONG BEACH -- There's no place like home -- at least according to playwright Sam-Art Williams, whose inventive and lyrically expressive "Home" opens Oct. 20 at International City Theatre and runs through Nov. 5. 

Donathan Walters plays prodigal son Cephus Miles, an orphan who leaves his family's farm in North Carolina to seek refuge and prosperity in the north. 

Leilani Smith and Angela Thomas portray more than 25 characters over the course of Cephus' epic journey from adolescence to adulthood, as he struggles to stay true to himself amid a rapidly changing and turbulent America. 

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Spanning the 1950s through the Vietnam War and Civil Rights era, hurdles, and setbacks continuously obstruct Cephus' road to happiness. But he perseveres and always manages to remain upbeat. 

Williams, who was born in the small town of Burgaw, NC (population 1,700), was living on 47th Street in New York and the holidays were approaching when a longing for home inspired this play.

“The Vietnam War was raging at that particular time, so I wanted to do a positive play about a country character who was yearning for his home, as I was doing at Christmas,” Williams said in an interview. “I drew on my experience growing up in the country — plowing mules, cropping tobacco, bootleggers, going to church. The rest was my imagination. I wanted to do something that could be performed on the streets — I love street theater. And I wanted my character to have a conscience.”

"Home" runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., Oct. 20 through Nov. 5. Two preview performances take place on Wednesday, Oct. 18 and Thursday, Oct. 19, both at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $47 on Thursdays and Fridays, and $49 on Saturdays and Sundays, except for Oct. 20 (opening night) for which tickets are $55 and include a post-show reception at Utopia Restaurant. Low-priced tickets to previews are $35.

International City Theatre has formed a community partnership with the African American community in Long Beach to raise funds for college scholarships and to bring students to the production. A Community Partnership Package, which includes a pre-performance Gala dinner as well as the post-show reception with the actors on opening night, is $125; tables of 10 are available for $1,200.

International City Theatre is located in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. For reservations and information, call 562-436-4610 or go to InternationalCityTheatre.org.