Kay Bourne Arts Report – Issue #56

Contents

DESSA ROSE BLOOMS

WRITER’S WORDS BROUGHT TO LIFE

STIRRING TO THE BONE

A WONDERFUL NIGHT OF THEATER

KAY BOURNE HONORED

THE HIGHEST HONOR IN MARTIAL ARTS IS INTEGRITY

UP-COMING EVENTS


DESSA ROSE BLOOMS

by Beverly Creasey

(Leigh Barrett (l) and Uzo Aduba (r) with the cast of DESSA ROSE.

Photo credit: Andrew Brilliant/Brilliant Pictures)

fdcf3d3bb0d5407ec5bbc0e9760e6d38.124.82 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #56The stage at NEW REP crackles with

energy for the New England premiere of DESSA ROSE, the latest musical from the creators of ‘Ragtime’. Director RICK LOMBARDO gets powerful performances from a stellar cast in this remarkable story of 16-year-old woman’s terrifying escape from slavery and the noose . . . and the remarkable friendships which sustain her along the way.DESSA ROSE continues Tuesdays through Sundays at New Repertory Theatre, 200 Dexter Ave. in Watertown until MAY 18. For more info you can phone 617-923-8487.

UZO ADUBA gives a fierce performance as the defiant, enslaved teenager who wills herself to stand up after a savage beating and by doing so becomes a catalyst for rebellion. LEIGH BARRETT triumphs as the white woman and mistress of a plantation who after she and her baby are abandoned by her ne’er-do-well husband finds her own strength (of will and character). At first alarmed as she realizes her deep South farm is harboring runaways, she finds solace in their company and comes to believe in the abolition of slavery.

The two stories intertwine with a third, that of a villain, rather like Javert in ‘Les Miserables‘, who will pursue Dessa Rose to the ends of the earth so that she can face the hangman. Todd Alan Johnson paints an intense portrait of a man obsessed . . . but it is the secondary characters who give the musical its vitality. Joshua W. Heggie electrifies the stage, whether singing or stomping out a righteous rhythm for the (musical-ized version of the traditional) “I’ll Fly Away.” Dee Crawford‘s soaring voice and confident presence infuse the characters she plays with depth and substance (especially her heroic stand at play’s end as the trusted slave).

Edward M. Barker‘s character, Nathan, has a fascinating carnie side as the runaway slave with the scheme (right out of “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”) to outwit slave owners and turn a profit with which to buy his freedom and all the other runaways on the plantation. De’Lon Grant radiates charisma as Dessa Rose’s doomed sweetheart and A’Lisa D. Miles provides some welcome comedy mocking foolish Southern belles. Michael Kreutz and Peter Carey portray the many bad guys with creepy gusto.

Lovely songs like Barrett’s gorgeous lament, “Lonesome in the Glen” and the lover’s, “In the Bend of My Arm” give the musical its sweet resonance but the opening number ,“We are Descended” would have you believe that both Black and White stories have equal importance when it’s obvious that Dessa Rose’s is the stronger storyline. In fact, the convergence of the two doesn’t happen until the end of Act I.

Music director Todd Gordon‘s singers makes even the lack luster songs sparkle. Despite one of the oddest endings I’ve ever encountered (where one woman gets a man and the other gets a fish!), DESSA ROSE has plenty of chills, nifty plot surprises and compelling characters.

Official Site of The New Repertory Theatre


WRITER’S WORDS BROUGHT TO LIFE

by Kay Bourne

(Sherley Anne Williams (1944-1999)

Page 1 of 5 | Next page