Local Award-winning Playwright / Gospel Artist Produces Musical for RAM House

Tawanika Pannell-Penn in who's memory "Date Night" was written.

Roanoke Area Ministries, affectionately called RAM House by the Roanoke community, served 5,368 people last year, and they anticipate serving even more in 2020 as the pandemic has effected so many financially in the community. RAM House’s vision is to prevent and alleviate homelessness and hunger in the Blue Ridge Region.

Local award-winning gospel artist and playwright, Dana Grace Pannell, approached RAM House earlier this year with a fundraising idea – to produce a pre-recorded theater production people could watch in the safety of their homes in the midst of a pandemic.

Pannell holds a special place in her heart for RAM House, as she would often serve there and hold food drives for the non-profit. Her daughter, Tawanika Pannell-Penn, who passed away on New Years Eve 2017, often helped RAM House guests who were homeless obtain jobs.

“Date Night,” is a tragicomedy gospel musical that Pannell wrote in memory of her daughter, it was the first piece of work she produced since coming out of mourning in 2020. This work helped her heal, and she anticipates it helping others also heal, as the plot deals with themes of loss, hope, and faith. From upbeat original gospel songs and dramatic scenes, to witty humor and laughs, this multi-faceted play is a must see.

Pannell and Jerome Buckner volunteered hours of their skills in the arts, theater, music, and production to produce this play. Streaming is free on RAM House and Blue Ridge PBS’ YouTube channels from November 21st, 2020 to December 31st, 2020. However, donations are encouraged as 100% of the donated proceeds go to support RAM House and their efforts to serve those in need.