From left to right, Charles Gilliard (Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.), Ian Tanza (J. Edgar Hoover), Renard Ricks (Rev. James Lawson), and Bill Wolski (Mayor Henry Loeb) comprise the cast of Memphis.

Memphis, adapted and directed by J-Powers, traces the events and people that drew Martin Luther King, Jr. to the city overlooking the Mississippi River in March and April of 1968.  It also focuses on King’s continuing conflict with J. Edgar Hoover and unprecedented efforts by the FBI to discredit the man who sought to bring about revolutionary change in American through peaceful means.  It dramatizes through actor performances and historical images other major figures that played a role in evolution of the city’s sanitation worker strike from a local labor dispute into one of the most tragic moments of American history. 


Carl Gilliard (Rev.Martin Luther King, Jr.) The Chicago/Detroit native is a veteran actor, director, marketer and producer. As an actor, Carl has appeared in over 2 dozen plays mesmerizing audiences with his trademark baritone voice and fearless character portrayals. He has appeared in “The River Niger”, “Livin’ Fat”, “Bubblin’ Brown Sugar”, “Zooman & The Sign”, “South Of Where We Live”, “Jeffrey’s Plan” & “The Ninth Wave.” His theatre work paved the way for his numerous television & film roles in sitcoms such as ”Freddie”, ”Barbershop”, “Family Matters”, “Martin”, “The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air & “Roc as well as other appearances in “24”, Michael Mann’s, “Robbery Homicide Division”, ”Alias”, “Cold Case”, “Sleeper Cell”, “Strong Medicine”, “Hunter”, “Mike Hammer”, “Sherman Oaks” and features such as “Nothin’ 2 Lose”, “Chatroom”, “Contact”, “The Luau” , “Coach Carter”, the Wes Craven’s thriller, “Red Eye” & the upcoming prison drama, “Mannsfield 12, directed by Craig Ross, Jr. Through Carl’s various experiences in film, television & theatre, he is quickly forging his niche as a Producer with keen discernment for developing and discovering new screenplays by new and exciting writers. In collaboration with partner, Tony Winters, he produced the Pan African Audience Award winning feature “Retiring Tatiana”. Carl’s first outing as director is the poignant drama, “Section 8” which has been acquired for distribution into the Home Video/DVD market. He appeared as Clarence Thomas in the 2004 Works in Progress series “Sex, Lies & Politics.” Carl resides in Palmdale, California with wife Wilda and their 3 children. Their oldest daughter, Corinne, is a Film Major at Howard University in Washington D.C.

Renard Ricks (Rev. James Lawson) A native Alabamian, Renard is a television and media production professional with more than 30 years of cable television production and media relations, producing, directing, writing, announcing and hosting experience.  Currently, he oversees the day-to-day operations for the City of Torrance in the Office of Cable and Community Relations.   Some of his theatrical performances have been with noted actors Broderick Crawford in “The Hobbit” and Michael Douglas in “What the Butler Saw” (Florence, AL).  He has performed in several theatres across the South, including the L.B. Wallace Theatre (Florence, AL) and the Helen Keller Theatre (Tuscumbia, AL).  His film screen appearance includes “Queens Logic”.  Renard is a nationally ranked Forensic poetry and prose reader.  He helped to start and served as the first president of his Debate and Forensic Club (Delta Sigma Rho —Tau Kappa Alpha a National Honorary Forensic Society) while in college.  Renard resides in Santa Clarita with his wife Wana and their son. Their oldest daughter is in Law School at McGeorge in Sacramento.  Another daughter is a senior at Toogaloo College in Jackson, MS, and 2 sons in community college. 


Ian Tanza (J. Edgar Hoover) is an actor who began his professional career in 1974 when he received the American College Theater Festival’s “Best Actor” award.  He has appeared in numerous film and television productions.


Bill Wolski (Mayor Henry Loeb) A native of Cleveland, Bill is a veteran of more than 80 stage plays and musicals, and more than 500 individual performances.  An accomplished tap dancer, singer, and harmonica player, his versatility has allowed him to enjoy lead roles in “42nd Street,” “A Doll’s House,” “Twelfth Night,” “Laughter on the 23rd Floor,”  and David Sedaris’ “The Santaland Diaries,” which earned him the 2004 Best Actor award from the PV Players.  In 2006, he joined with actor Frank Pepito and actress/fiancé Holly Baker-Kreiswirth to form Another Coconut Production, which will produce its fifth production, David Lindsay-Abaire’s absurd comedy, “Wonder of the World,” for San Pedro’s Little Fish Theatre this August.  All three of them were last seen on the Nakano Theatre stage in the 2006 Works in Progress series “The 9/11 Commission Report.”  Bill also enjoys gigging from time to time with Gary Silver, and acoustic blues artist in Orange County, and is looking forward to his and Holly’s October wedding, which will be officiated by Frank.  Just another Coconut production.

J-Powers (Writer-director) While known to many as John Powers at Torrance Cultural Arts Center where he creates and produces various performing arts programs, J-Powers produces the theater series, Works in Progress, for which he has written and directed a number of original stage adaptations of compelling contemporary events.  These include The Examination of Mrs. Anne Hutchinson at the Court at Newton, The Army-McCarthy Hearings, The Watergate Tapes, The Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas Hearings, Trial of Lenny Bruce, Court-Martial of William Calley, McMartin Preschool Trial, and Trial of O.J. Simpson.   In 2006, he adapted and produced 9/11, the world’s only dramatization of The 9/11 Commission Report.  His original drama @HEART was recently produced at Ruskin Group Theatre, Santa Monica, where it was a critical success. He is married to Deborah Green and he is a proud step-dad to their three children Alissa, Spencer, and Cameron.