Schaumburg’s Black History Month play begins new era with ‘Cadillac Crew’ Feb. 24

Schaumburg’s 25-year tradition of a Black History Month play begins a new chapter next weekend as longtime director, frequent writer and village native Maurice D. Proffit takes a step back into the role of executive producer for “Cadillac Crew.”

Directed by Crissy Johnston of Elk Grove Village from a published script by playwright Tori Sampson, the production at the Al Larson Prairie Center for the Arts on Saturday, Feb. 24 emphasizes the voices of women in the civil rights movement through its four female characters.

“A lot of the productions have centered on men in Black history,” Johnston said. “This centers on women in Black history. This story is very much about women and the women’s movement.”

The poster for "Cadillac Crew," Schaumburg's 25th Black History Month play at the Al Larson Prairie Center for the Arts showing on Saturday, Feb. 24. Courtesy of B-Side Studios

Johnston also sees this year’s performance as a tribute to Proffit’s mother — the late Valerie Profit — who created the local theater company, Powerhouse Productions, that began this Black History Month tradition in Schaumburg in 1999.

The characters of “Cadillac Crew” work in a Virginia civil rights office in 1963, on the day of an anticipated speech by Rosa Parks.

The action includes a move to nearly the present day, but Johnston and Proffit want the audience to discover most of the play’s surprises on their own ... including the meaning of the title.

“It’s always been my dream to direct,” Johnston said. “I love being on the other side of the stage. Theater got me through a lot of stuff since high school.”

Proffit, who’s directed 13 of the previous shows, decided a year ago to step back permanently from that role to give others an opportunity while he took on other responsibilities with his production company, B-Side Studios.

Johnston is someone with whom he’s worked for years as an actor, but she landed this year’s directing assignment when she brought him the idea of which script to do.

“I already knew Crissy had the chops for it,” Proffit said. “I knew this is what I need, right here.”

Proffit admits the pairing of a female director with the script’s themes brought something to this performance that would have eluded him. He points to one of his own earlier shows that also had a particular emphasis on the importance of women.

“I felt it was executed the right way, but not with the same soulful connection,” he said of his own take on the subject.

While Proffit admires the strengths Johnston’s formal training brings to her theater work, Johnston in turn praises the natural talent of her mentor with whom she believes she shares many creative similarities.

“The scripts that he’s written...,” she said. “I’ve done playwright classes and I’ll never be able to do what he does.”

Actors Malika Petty, left, and Thressa Schultz make up half the cast of "Cadillac Crew," being performed at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24 at the Al Larson Prairie Center for the Arts in Schaumburg. Courtesy of Maurice D. Proffit

She also had high praise for her actors — bearing the task of being one of the smallest casts the annual plays have had in their quarter-century history.

“These women are just incredible,” Johnston said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better cast.”

As with all previous shows, “Cadillac Crew” is intended to be both thought-provoking and appropriate for all ages.

“It’s going to be a great time, like it always is,” Proffit said. “It’s great to be a staple in the village of Schaumburg.”

The peformance will run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at 201 Schaumburg Court on Schaumburg’s municipal campus.

Tickets cost $20 in advance, and $25 at the door. To purchase, visit

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