Friday, June 4, 2010

Inquirer: BLACK PEARL SINGS is "The Real Deal"

Check out these excerpts from Wendy Rosenfield's review of BLACK PEARL SINGS! in today's Inquirer:

Black, White Women Bond Musically and Winningly

By Wendy Rosenfield
Friday, June 4, 2010

... In Seth Rozin's hands, Black Pearl sings, all right, and women wasting their girls-night-out money on faux female-bonding shows like Respect or Menopause: The Musical ought to demand refunds, link arms, and head straight to the Adrienne Theatre for the real deal, courtesy of InterAct Theatre Company.

There's music here too, both spiritual and playful, albeit from the Depression era and earlier. Higgins' drama is modeled after the relationship between bluesman Leadbelly and musicologist John Lomax, but the women make it their own, with tunes devastatingly bellowed by C. Kelly Wright as Pearl Johnson, and sung with a self-conscious reserve by Catherine Slusar as Susannah Mullally.

Rozin carefully calibrates the women's intellectual and emotional balance. He allows them dignity, silliness, and secrets in equal measure without forcing them to wallow too deeply for too long in the type of unbridled pathos and sentimentality that could drown this play.

... Wright and Slusar are strong enough to resist the script's baser instincts. The play's success lies in its characters' friendship, not their surroundings - though Shannon Zura's set ... allows the women to stretch out and explore the space between them. ...

There may be some irony in the fact that this endearing examination of women and race was written and directed by a pair of white men, but then again maybe that's just Higgins' point. Just as Susannah's search for "authenticity" led her to expand the definition, this production asks its audience to do the same.

Links to more information about BLACK PEARL SINGS!:

Read Wendy Rosenfield's Full Review

Purchase Tickets

Listen to Music Featured in

Play Description, Artist Bios & Performance Calendar

An Interview with Playwright Frank Higgins

Watch a video trailer of BLACK
PEARL SINGS! at Ford's Theatre
in Washington D.C.

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