Jerome Benton to debut new play at Pepito's Parkway Theatre - KMSP-TV

Jerome Benton to debut new play at Pepito's Parkway Theatre

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

He was once a part of Prince's musical camp. Now, after 35 years, Jerome Benton is taking his faith and talent to a different stage.

FOX 9 News found Benton at Pepito's Parkway Theatre, where he'll soon be showcasing his new play.

These days, you'd be hard-pressed to find Benton pulling out mirrors and dancing alongside Morris Day.

"I know I'm going to be dealing with people who can't seem to shake away the image I created for myself over the past 35 years," he admitted.

Benton refers to the image as that of a "side kick, hype man" -- a character we see when he takes the musical stage with Morris Day, when he appears in films like "Graffiti Bridge" and as Prince's hunting partner in "Under the Cherry Moon."

On his new stage, he's exposing his spiritual side with his new play.

"‘I Want to Go To Heaven Because Hell's Too Hot' -- it's a morality play," Benton explained. "It's about false freedom a young lady who's out there bad. She's turning all the spiritual light off in her life. It raises the hair on your back, creates goose bumps. It'll put a tear in your eye."

FOX 9 asked Benton if he's worried fans might be put off by the theme.

"You might be disappointed because I'm not laughing loudly and rolling on the floor and carrying a mirror," he replied. "Time out for that right now."

Benton said he decided to create the play because "people are losing morality about themselves." He promises musical satisfaction with musical support from Terry Lewis. The play itself is co-written by Ilunga Adell, and the young cast was scouted in Minneapolis.

"We found some really amazing people," Benton said. "Minneapolis is a place that I chose to come back home to to give this gift -- a gift that, I think, may be a gift to the community,"

Benton said that gift is worth putting down the mirror, even if only for a little while.

"I'll do that," he said. "It doesn't stop me from going to the spiritual side of things and delivering a word. This is special."

Tickets go on sale in late June. The play is set to hit the Pepito's Parkway Stage in Lake July. Benton does plan to continue performing with The Original 7ven and currently spends his time between Minneapolis and Los Angeles.

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