• Local actors Tashonna Banks (left), playing the role of "Emmie," and Tabitha Perry (right), playing the role of "The Washing Machine," surround Staff Sgt. LaKendra Johnson, of 2nd Battalion, 381st Regiment, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, who played "Caroline," in a performance of Kushner's "Calorine, or Change," at the Killeen, Texas Vive Le Arts Performing Arts Theatre. (Courtesy photo by Toschia Moffett, director, "Caroline or Change")

    Soldier performs first lead role in local theater production

    Local actors Tashonna Banks (left), playing the role of "Emmie," and Tabitha Perry (right), playing the role of "The Washing Machine," surround Staff Sgt. LaKendra Johnson, of 2nd Battalion, 381st Regiment, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, who played...

  • "Caroline," played in Kushner's "Calorine, or Change" by Staff Sgt. LaKendra Johnson, of the 2nd Battalion, 381st Regiment, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, stops for a photo opportunity with "The Navy Men," (left to right) Sgt. 1st Class Ernest Bowers, Lt. Col. Thomas Perry and Capt. Javora Collier, all Fort Hood, Texas Soldiers. The musical was Johnson's first lead role at the Killeen, Texas Vive Le Arts Performing Arts Theatre. (Courtesy photo by Kim Talbott)

    Soldier performs first lead role in local theater production

    "Caroline," played in Kushner's "Calorine, or Change" by Staff Sgt. LaKendra Johnson, of the 2nd Battalion, 381st Regiment, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, stops for a photo opportunity with "The Navy Men," (left to right) Sgt. 1st Class Ernest Bowers...

KILLEEN, Texas -- A Division West Chaplain's Assistant performed her first title role during a three-weekend run of Kushner's "Calorine, or Change," at the Vive Le Arts Performing Arts Theatre here.

Staff Sgt. LaKendra "LaLa" Johnson, with 2nd Battalion, 381st Regiment, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, was invited to audition after local Director Toschia Moffet heard her sing during Fort Hood's Thanksgiving service.

"I honestly went to the audition for two reasons: to honor the invitation, which I took as an amazing compliment, and for my own professional development," she said. "Frankly, I went into the audition without any expectation of getting a specific part."

She was one of 10 women who auditioned for the lead role of "Caroline."

Born in East Texas, Johnson can usually be found assisting with on-post religious services and training Reserve and National Guard Unit Ministry Teams as they prepare to deploy overseas.

A classically-trained vocalist whose natural abilities originated in Gospel and R&B music, Johnson previously performed as the high-note "Dynamite" in Shaiman's "Hairspray" at the Collin County Community College in Plano, Texas. She has also performed in Italy for a Christmas Gospel music tour during December 2011.

"Calorine, or Change," was set in 1963 in Lake Charles, Louisiana where Caroline is a black single mother of four working as a Jewish family's maid in the midst of the American Civil Rights Movement. When money turns up missing, fragile friendships are threatened and Caroline, resistant to change, must face the reality of the evolving world around her.

Johnson's future looks bright in the significantly changing Army. She will continue as a Chaplain's Assistant for another year here at Fort Hood.

Her next major singing performance, aside from a party band she sings with on the weekends, is an international tour in April. She will provide live background vocals for Erykah Badu, internationally-known American singer-songwriter, record producer, activist, and actress, whose upcoming tour includes New Zealand and Australia.

Page last updated Thu March 6th, 2014 at 12:25