The audience in the first couple of rows of the Anspacher Theater at the Public, waiting for Lemon Andersen's County of Kings: The Beautiful Struggle to begin.
Lemon Andersen was one of the original Tony-winning cast members of Russel Simmons Def Poetry Jam and County of Kings tells the story of the kid who made his way to Broadway, against all odds. County of Kings is an auto-bio-pic for the stage, paced with a hip hop cadence and a focused restlessness, like the stage is the only thing capable of containing this performer.
"It's an achievement being out there on your own, telling the story, just you and what you've got to say," said the man in the seat in front of me to his friend at intermission.
"You been there?" came the skeptical reply.
"Not like that, no. But I gave it a try once or twice and it'll wear you down and tire you out if you don't got what it needs."
"You think he's got what it needs?" his neighbor asked, peering over his glasses at the program.
"mm-hmm, he's got it," nodded the critic, adjusting his cane. "He's got more than me, I'll tell you that."