Originally a song from Nina Simone, then later a play of the compilations of works of Loraine Hansberry assembled by her ex-husband. After her death in 1965, Hansberry’s ex-husband and friend, songwriter and poet Robert Nemiroff, compiled her unpublished writings and adapted them into a stage play that then went to go on for a long run on Broadway.
Recently The American Academy Theater Company produced the play, directed by Joe Garcia and was a smash hit. The show opens to the voice of Loraine Hansberry and ends much the same way. The play is constructed that so every actor, male or female, black or white, speaks as Loraine Hansberry. The cast consisted of some of the biggest on the rise actors, such as Lilly Dennis, Alicia Gaukima, Nicholas McDonald, Quartay Denaya and many more.
As a critic I see many shows modern and contemporary; this play is both. So it is hard to put into words how much talent and diversity an actor has to have to construct a performance that contains both, which I was happy to find all of these actors did flawlessly. The play features parts from Broadway plays such as A Raisin in the Sun, The Sign in Sydney Burstein’s Window and many more. The play beatifies the honesty on human existence, no matter where you come from or how you get to where you are, you are a human, with rights and your story matters.
Each of the actors performed brilliantly and presented superb performances, some bringing the audience to tears. For instance, in The Sign in Sydney Burstein’s Window there is a scene between Iris (Lilly Dennis), Sydney (Nicholas McDonald) and Mavis (Alicia Croford) where Mavis, Iris’s sister, is expressing her racist and prejudice views against African Americans and how they are not of great enough status to marry into their family. The scene is heart breaking as the audience sees the true views this young woman has and how they tear her sister apart. The relationships portrayed by these actors are ones that you see at only Academy Award winning level.
This show was sold out for a reason and it was a sheer privilege to bear witness to these raw and natural performances. The directing by Garcia is certainly one to speak to as he constructed a production demonstrating change and the beauty in human existence.
Written by Alex Harper
LA Play Reviews