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Washington DC by Tracy Lyon

Three Sistahs

Also see Tracy's review of What the Butler Saw

Even though Virginia's Metro Stage is a rather intimate space, their recent productions have packed a punch. Last season, they garnered attention by presenting the enthusiastic Danny & Sylvia - A Musical Love Story, and this season they have another strong offering with the Chekhov-inspired Three Sistahs.

Three Sistahs is a musical that focuses on the lives of three African-American sisters who are all in different places in their lives. It is the 1960s and these three women have come back to the family home in Washington, DC to bury their brother who was killed in Vietnam. It is the third family member they have had to bury in three years. The first was their mother and the second was their career military father. As the siblings reminisce, they decide to stay the night in their parent's home and have a slumber party. However, the party atmosphere does not endure, as many truths are revealed during their long night together.

Three Sistahs
(clockwise, from right) Crystal Fox, Desire' DuBose, Bernadine Mitchell
Janet Pryce and Thomas W. Jones, II, wrote the story that is the basis of this show. Jones (Home), who took home the statue for Best Director at last year's Helen Hayes Awards, has also authored the book and lyrics for Sistahs. Jones has written a stirring book with a sound structure. It is a multi-layered piece that explores family issues, the turbulent '60s, and the rich cultural history of these characters. Perhaps his dialogue is a bit predictable at times, but that is easily forgiven because the product as a whole is simply beautiful.

Jones' lyrics don't suffer at all and, paired with William Hubbard's music, the score feels fresh and energetic, conveying a spectrum of emotions that range from the amusing "Basement Kind Of Love" to the bittersweet "In My Father's House."

Jones wears an additional hat in this production. He is also the show's director and he handles this job very well. It is obvious that he recognizes his actor's strengths and plays upon them expertly.

Jones has an extraordinary cast to work with. Former Helen Hayes Award nominee and television veteran Crystal Fox (Home, In The Heat Of The Night and PBS' The Old Settler) is superb as the fun loving but troubled middle sister, Marsha. She is very adept at showing all of the colors this character possesses. Her fellow actor, Bernardine Mitchell, was last year's Helen Hayes Award winner for Outstanding Lead Actress for her performance in Arena's Blues In The Night. Mitchell delivers a lovely performance as Olive, the maternal older sister. Rounding out the cast is Desiré DuBose (Harlem Rose, Lift Every Voice) as Irene youngest sister. DuBose does a fine job as the idealistic Irene but at times she is a little over the top. However, that is soon forgotten once one hears her delightful singing voice. In fact, all three of these ladies have wonderful voices and they certainly know how to use them.

The set design by Milagros Ponce de Léon is warm and homey. It creates the feeling of really being in the front parlor of a little row house in the city. LeVonne Lindsay's costumes are very effective and do a terrific job of reflecting the time period.

We have all had hopes, dreams and disappointments. That is what makes Three Sistahs relatable no matter what your cultural background may be; these things are universal. Add to that a divine score, and you get a piece full of optimism and heart. Three Sistahs runs through October 13th.

Metro Stage
Three Sistahs
Extended through December 1
Inspired by Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov
Story by Janet Pryce and Thomas W. Jones, II
Book and lyrics by Thomas W. Jones, II
Music by William Hubbard
Directed by Thomas W. Jones, II
1201 North Royal Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Ticket Information: 703-548-9044 or www.metrostage.org

Cast List

Marsha: Crystal Fox
Olive: Bernardine Mitchell
Irene: Desiré DuBose


Photo: Christopher O. Banks


-- Tracy Lyon


Also see the Current Theatre Season Calendar for D.C.



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