Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Mama, I Want to Sing!"

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note: entire contents copyright 2004 by Carl A. Rossi


"MAMA, I WANT TO SING!"

book and lyrics by Vy Higginsen and Ken Wydro
original music by Rudolph V. Hawkins, Pat Holley, Steven Taylor and Doris Troy
Added song “Give Us This Day” arranged by Sabreen Staples
directed by Jacqui Parker
choreography by Lakeisha Gilliard, Jackie Davis and Jacqui Parker
musical direction by Andrew Williams

Narrator … Candace Lee
Doris Winter … Sabreen Staples
Mama Winter … Linda Starks
Rev. Winter … Timothy Walker
Sister Carrie … Denise Young
Minister of Music … David Curtis

“My Faith Looks Up to Thee” solo … Jacqui Parker
“God Will Be” solo … Chris Higgins

Star Sequence:

“This Bitter Earth” … Denise Gaskins
“Stormy Weather” … Emily Cruz
“In My Solitude” … Valerie Lee
“God Bless the Child” … Lakeisha Gilliard

Choir:

Talaya Freeman; Valerie Lee; Jacqui Parker; Emily Cruz;
Denise Gaskins; Chris Higgins; Louis Jacques, Jr.; Denise Young ;
Linda Starks; Sabreen Staples; David Curtis; Lakeisha Gilliard

Halos … Emily Cruz; Lakeisha Gilliard
Spirit Dancer … Jackie Davis

drums … Malik Morgan

By the time you read these scribbles, The Our Place Theatre Project will have presented two fundraiser performances, modestly designed and staged, of the world-acclaimed musical MAMA, I WANT TO SING! to benefit the 2005 African-American Theatre Festival. The musical is a slender biography of pop/rhythm and blues singer Doris Troy (here, “Doris Winter”), I say “slender”, for the given facts are few: Ms. Troy was born and raised in New York; her father was a minister and she was singing in his church’s choir since childhood. While still in her teens, Ms. Troy was performing in nightclubs with her own group The Halos and began writing her own songs, her best known being the 1963 hit “Just One Look”. Her father’s early death devastated her; her strong-willed mother opposed her musical career but Fame smiled on her, eventually (Ms. Troy died this past February; a beloved icon). The show was co-written by Ms. Troy’s sister which may account for its sweetness and light, thus the real drama lies in the music and the Our Place production served up a solidly committed ensemble, so in tune with the material that despite the majority of them not being trained dancers, they flowed almost as well as they sung --- more actual dance numbers, such as the snappy footwork for the show’s title song, would have been most welcome. The singers were even eloquent when clustered together for Act Two’s lovely tableau, “What Do You Win”, sipping their drinks and looking elegant in their cocktail attire.

Sabreen Staples made her professional theatre debut as Doris and she was phenomenal, both as the shy, awkward girl with the breathtaking voice and as the friendly, sexy woman from the world of nightclubs and recording studios. Her “Just One Look”, though homogenized, was delightful and worth the wait, and her soaring notes, rooted in gospel, never once turned Anthem-like --- right here, right now, she is this year’s find, Boston-wise --- and she was royally supported by Linda Starks as Mama, Denise Young as Sister Carrie and actress-director Jacqui Parker who, I’m thrilled to say, released some of the fire that she tends to bank when appearing in other productions, elsewhere. May she continue to blaze in that direction.

"Mama, I Want to Sing!" (13-14 May)
OUR PLACE THEATRE PROJECT
Roxbury Community College Mainstage, ROXBURY, MA
1 (617) 989-9235

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