The Theatre Guide "This cast is phenomenal. From the leads to the ensemble they form a brilliant group that is sure to please. Kimber Sprawl as Rachel is superb. Her stunning vocals soar and skip through the impressive songs with apparent ease. Not to mention her wonderful acting and dancing skills. Danea Osseni plays Rachel’s sister Nicki with equal talent, and if you doubt the probability of two fabulous powerhouse vocalists in one show, then just wait till you hear them. They will literally give you the chills, that’s how good they are. I only wish there had been more numbers for them together as their harmonies were spectacular." http://thetheatreguide.com/2019/07/09/the-bodyguard-the-musical-gateway-playhouse/?fbclid=IwAR0Favk4Lby18SdbnByohLTE7q41NQjrZPJff_iQyWVZkEr8IZLMh7Jtx1c
SISTAS THE MUSICAL
'Sistas' Soars Through its 4th Year at St. Luke's by Natalie Sacks
April 28th, 2015
Dorothy Marcic’s charming and challenging musical about black women will inspire you to sing along.
"I never thought that the weak damsel waiting for Prince Charming really spoke to us as African American women." So Dr. Dorothy Marcic was told, and this sentiment formed the basis of what would eventually become Sistas: the Musical.
Marcic has written a revolutionary little musical, and even in its fourth year Sistas continues to shine. The production follows three sisters, one daughter and one sister-in-law as they prepare to bury the matriarch of their family. As the women recall their shared past with their grandmother and beyond, they take on the history of African American women as well through popular music spanning from Billie Holiday to Beyonce. Sistas is an intelligent feminist critique of modern times told through relatable characters, written for the women whose story it tells. This musical does not take place in an alternate reality in which people simply burst into song to express their feelings. Instead, as the sisters clean out their grandmother's attic, they sing their way through history trying to choose a song to perform at the funeral, Swiffers as improvised microphone stands and all. And this gregarious family isn't alone belting their hearts out onstage--the audience is encouraged to sing along, and does.
Sistas is a jukebox musical, but rather than taking on the works of one artist or genre, this show travels through the history of black female musicians. Audiences may not be familiar with some of the older songs, but other crowd-pleasers like the rollicking '60s soul medley will have you wanting to dance up to the stage. As much fun as this musical is, it also does not shy away from confronting big issues that affect many black women's lives head on, from controlling relationships and moving on after a husband's death to sexual assault. Instead, Sistas becomes all about finding joy amidst sadness and misfortune through music. The device of one college professor sister with a doctoral education in the history of African American women, Simone, is used well, elevating the dialogue about "naming and framing the pain" on a larger scale than just their own family without becoming gimmicky or overly academic. The five women onstage are a solid ensemble even as they portray drastically different characters. There's self-confident single mom Simone (Aurelia Williams), sassy and confrontational Roberta (Jennifer Fouche) and sanctimonious but sincere Gloria (Robyn Payne). Amy Goldberger as Heather plays the sole white woman who married into the family with an appropriate degree of awkwardness, finding deeper meaning in the dialogue between the traditional feminism of Heather's mother and the lived experience of marginalized black women within the movement.
But the unexpected star of the production is Danea Osseni as Simone's daughter Tamika, whose breathtaking performance of break-up anthem "Tyrone" leaves both her aunts and the audience singing and cheering along. And as the older women teach Tamika about her ancestry, we learn along with her, celebrating as she gathers the courage to stand up for herself and do her family proud.
As much as Sistas is a show about the past, it is constantly looking toward the future, imagining what African American women will be able to accomplish in Tamika's generation. And theater like this is certainly a great way to start.
Sistas: the Musical plays at St. Luke's Theatre with an open run.
Masters usually didn’t allow slaves to learn to read or write, but many captives did know how to sew. What those slaves made — and how that stitching became a powerful language itself — forms the heart of “Show Way,” Vital Theater Company’s new musical, based on the children’s book of the same title by Jacqueline Woodson. But while the book, winner of a Newbery Honor, reads almost like a documentary, chronicling one black family’s lineage through the tradition of quilting, “Show Way” onstage has the usual elements of a story, with a contemporary heroine and a problem to be solved. If Ms. Woodson’s writing evokes a carefully pieced pattern, Melody Cooper’s script emerges as more of a crazy quilt, to which Ms. Cooper has added colorful bits of different cultures, patches of humor and even a thread of the supernatural.
The show begins as Mathis May (Danea Robinson, right), a slave, proclaims, “This here is my family tree.” “This here” is Kyle Dixon’s imaginative set, consisting of layered panels resembling quilt squares. They slide to become walls, doors and, in the center, a recessed window to the past, with glimpses of the 1860s and 1960s. Although Mathis plays a pivotal role, the action centers on Toshi Georgiana (Ashley Lynette Brown), her 11-year-old descendant. Toshi has lost the quilt square that’s been handed down to her and that’s supposed to be the centerpiece of her grandmother’s birthday celebration. The square recalls the kind of quilt known as a “show way,” whose images revealed routes to the Underground Railroad. Toshi frantically enlists her friends (David Andino, Norma Hernandez, Christine Lee and Donnell E. Smith), whose roots range from Jewish to Japanese, to help her search before her mother (Adiagha Faizah) finds out. Toshi and Mathis’s entwined histories unfold to Tyrone L. Robinson’s versatile score and lyrics, which have the flavors of spirituals, country tunes, pop and even rap. Directed by Melissa Maxwell, the cast members have both agile voices and nimble feet. (Brandon Kelly choreographed.) Although historians now dispute whether slaves’ quilts incorporated hidden codes, the controversy is irrelevant to the production, which includes a small show from the Quilters’ Guild of Brooklyn in the theater lobby. As “Show Way” demonstrates, every cherished heirloom carries a message, which may have nothing to do with liberty but has everything to do with love.
(Through March 3. Saturdays and Sundays, and Feb. 18 and 19, at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., McGinn/Cazale Theater, 2162 Broadway, at 76th Street, 212-579-0528, vitaltheatre.org; $25 and $30.) LAUREL GRAEBER
Ensemble Gives Fun Score Full Volume HE SAID: The group numbers are some of the standouts for this show, so it is fortunate that the group sound is also the best part of this production. The harmonies were strong and the sound was robust. My favorites, honestly, were the Supreme-like trio, the Dynamites, that supported the song, “Welcome to the 60′s.” Kelsey Hopkins, who played Tracy’s friend, Penny, was incredibly fun to watch. She was one of the few leads who consistently hit the humor in the show. I found it intriguing that Edna, Tracy’s large mother traditionally played by Michael Lasris, chose to only drop into a deep voice for the occasional punchline. While those punchlines played well, I felt they would’ve landed harder throughout the show if Lasris had used the more masculine voice intended for the part.