Mabel “Madea” Simmons

is back in town, in person, for the first time in nearly five years. Tyler Perry will get himself up in a fat suit, falsies and a size-30 dress to play the Bible-misquoting, cigarette-smoking, gun-toting granny Madea for two performances on Sunday, Nov. 21, at Quickens Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland. Tickets go on sale Friday.

The touring show, Perry’s 12th stage play, is called “Madea’s Big Happy Family,” and will be his first live appearance in Cleveland since January 2006, when he brought the raucous “Madea Goes to Jail” to PlayhouseSquare’s State Theatre for six performances in four days.

Back then, Perry had just rocked Hollywood with a $22 million opening weekend for his first feature film, “Diary of Mad Black Woman.” Thanks to his touring “gospel” or “chitlin circuit” plays and the film, a man who once lived in a car bought a $5 million Atlanta mansion.

And now the writer-director-producer-actor is even bigger. His nine films to date have grossed more than $400 million, he has two television series to his credit, and Forbes magazine last year ranked him as Hollywood’s sixth-highest paid man.

Despite Perry’s success, other black artists have accused Perry of exploiting racial stereotypes.

Most prominently, fellow filmmaker Spike Lee last year called Perry’s work “coonery and buffoonery” that “harkens back to ‘Amos ‘n’ Andy.’ “

Others, including Oprah Winfrey and poet Maya Angelou, have defended Perry’s work, saying it is justified by its popularity among black audiences…..Read More

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