Tyler Perry's Big Happy Family

Touring the country as Madea, Tyler Perry may be the most popular unsung playwright in America


Tyler Perry, as the God-fearing granny Madea, taps into his audience's hopes and anxieties

I went to Madison Square Garden to see Tyler Perry's new musical, Madea's Big Happy Family, a day after I sat through a Broadway revival of Noel Coward's 1939 play Present Laughter. I noticed a few differences. In Coward's play, the main character, a famous stage actor, spends most of the evening in a dressing gown delivering bons mots to an entourage of fellow theater people. In Perry's show, a sharp-tongued grandmother delivers sassy put-downs and motivational lectures to a brood of squabbling family members. Coward's plot reaches a climax as the actor finds out that several...

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