By Victoria L. Dammer

I’m dropping a name–Laurence Fishburne. Many immediately conjure a favorite image of this iconic Tony Award and Emmy Award winner, an Oscar-nominated actor, producer, and director of many past performances.

Audiences have nothing but praise for the skilled Fishburne, and that was the sentiment at the Perelman Performing Arts Center (PAC NYC) in his solo performance of Like They Do In The Movies, an in-depth insight into his life that he wrote. He’s a gifted storyteller who kept the audience engaged for over two hours, with roaring laughter and applause throughout.

Fishburne wore a long and flowing black sparkling hoodie, and immediately said, “What’s up? I love working in the theater.” The performance exuded his sentiment.

Fishburne introduced us to his mom Hattie, the proprietor of “Miss Hattie’s Charm School,” who was the impetus for his entire life, and who encouraged him to become an actor. But not all sides of growing up are good, as Fishburne revealed his mom had sexually abused him for years, memories that did not resurface for 29 years after the events. It takes courage to reveal the dark sides of our lives.

Fishburne described their relationship like this: “She was a stage mother, co-dependent,” but despite all the negative aspects of their connections, she instilled characteristics that have carried him through his successful life.

Fishburne described the gentleman he thought was his biological father, “Big Fish” as he nicknamed him, as someone larger than life. He admitted later in life he had DNA testing on Laurence Fishburne Jr. When the test showed that the elder Fishburne was not a match, Big Fish proclaimed, “I don’t give a f***” about that, you’re still a Fishburne.” In a moment of total candor on stage, Fishburne expressed he was deeply ashamed his entire identity was based on a lie, but admitted it was certainly a step towards healing.

In one scene, Fishburne introduces us to the man he was interviewing for his bodyguard. The man described his sex life with two women in an outlandish manner, all the while knitting during their interview and threatening those who approach Fishburne on the street. We are reminded that everyone wants a piece of you when you’re famous, and sometimes it is necessary to be protected from the public.

Fishburne discussed racial strife, having been born in the sixties, and wasn’t fearful of expelling his thoughts on the subject, much to the audience’s delight. He applied a mix of laughter and weighty importance to the subject which is at the forefront of our lives today.

Despite what occurred in Fishburne’s life with his mother and father, and his estrangement from them, he was proud to tell the audience he took care of his father in the end and is caring for his mother. His mother suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), unable to care for herself, and he revealed his pain to the crowd, tearing into our hearts. Fishburne deserves admiration for his ability to forgive and love.

Fishburne’s one-man show will make you roar with laughter, mull over, and admire a man who has given much of himself to the world for our benefit.

Like They Do In The Movies, starring Laurence Fishburne, at the Perelman Performing Arts Center through March 31. Directed by Leonard Foglia, with Khady Kamara Nunez, Executive Director, and Bill Rauch, Artistic Director. Press by Chaliece Dillon, Polk and Co.

Running time is 2 hours and 30 minutes with an intermission.