Month: February 2021

God’s Trombones Presented by Burlington County Footlighters

Burlington County Footlighters concluded Black History Month with a fitting encomium. On February 26th, they made a prerecorded performance of James Weldon Johnson’s God’s Trombones available on their website. Darryl S. Thompson, Jr. directed.   

The book by James Weldon Johnson inspired this theatrical rendition. As its subtitle indicated, God’s Trombones featured Seven Negro Sermons in Verse. Through compelling poetry, actors presented dramatic retellings of biblical stories. Gospel music performances bracketed several of them.  

The audience received context for the overall presentation. Slides included in the video summarized “Black Church” history in the United States.

The end of the slave trade in 1810 enabled religious practices exclusive to the African American community to grow. The First Great Awakening brought African slaves and free blacks to Christianity. The Second Great Awakening advanced the belief that all people are God’s children leading to the abolitionist movement. These developments facilitated the advent of African American leaders, preachers and churches.

The preachers played a crucial role in the African American community. Their efforts allowed slaves brought to the US to receive their “first sense of unity and solidarity.”

God’s Trombones provided an excellent segue into Women’s History Month. Most early black congregation members were female. Many received “the calling” to become preachers themselves. They included Minister Jarena Lee, Elder Julia Foote and Reverend Florence Spearing Randolph.

The production team recorded God’s Trombones at The Lighthouse of Deliverance Gospel Church. The site contained the perfect ambiance for a show with religious themes. A crown of thorns hung from a large cross on the rear wall. Flowers adorned the altar. The latter’s length allowed the actors to move about it like a stage.  

The cast stood in a circle as they opened with a solemn invocation of “Listen Lord – A Prayer.” Voice overs from each performer read a section of the poem. Bryan Smith’s keyboard accompaniment augmented the ritual.

Danielle Harley-Scott then performed “The Creation.” Using immense enthusiasm, she described God’s conception of the universe through the creation of Adam. Her use of hand gestures illustrated the story just as well as she told it.  

Alfred Lance, Jr. continued with the tale of sin’s entry into the world and its consequences. Mr. Lance, Jr. enhanced “Noah Built the Ark.” through his expression of the script’s humorous phrases. He described Satan telling Eve, “You’re sure good looking” before gifting her with a looking glass. People mocked Noah’s prophesying a great flood by accusing him of having “water on the brain.”

In addition to directing, Darryl S. Thompson, Jr. performed two of the play’s poems. He first delivered a powerful retelling of the exodus from Egypt. During “Let My People Go,” he emphatically portrayed Moses insisting that Pharaoh free the Israelites. Mr. Thompson, Jr. hooked this reviewer to such a degree that he listened with the intentness of someone hearing the story for the first time.

Mr. Thompson, Jr. added his own brand of humor to the narrative. After explaining that Pharaoh claimed he “didn’t know the God of Israel,” Mr. Thompson, Jr. let out a sarcastic laugh. It reflected God’s contempt for the Egyptian monarch.  

Next, Siiyara Yasmine delivered a gripping story about a woman’s final moments. Ms. Yasmine included tenderness in her telling of “Go Down Death.” Her recitation combined the sadness of leaving this world with the joy of eternal life awaiting with Jesus.

Beau Emerson showed that he would be just as adept at delivering a Sunday sermon as at acting. His stage presence in “The Prodigal Son” reflected that of a seasoned public speaker. He drew out one syllable words such as slide, bright and man. His expression of the line “slip and slide until you bang up against hell’s iron gate” along with his description of “hanging out in gambling dens throwing dice with the devil for his soul” contained the vocal prowess of an experienced pastor.

April Johnson presented a moving depiction of “The Crucifixion.” Ms. Johnson became lachrymose when personalizing the suffering of “my Jesus.” The image of her spreading of her arms with the cross added to the scene’s impact. Ms. Johnson’s delivery of the line, “It causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble” captured the significance of the crucifixion to her character.  

Darryl S. Johnson, Jr. returned to the screen for a performance of “Judgement Day.” He used excellent vocal inflections to contrast the rewards of a righteous life with the “woe” awaiting sinners.   

God’s Trombones included several gospel songs. Danielle Harley-Scott, April Johnson, Siiyara Yasmine, and Alfred Lance, Jr performed soulful renditions of these numbers. At the show’s conclusion, Darryl S. Thompson, Jr. led the entire ensemble in a group performance.  

Bryan Smith played keyboards. In addition to accompanying the vocalists, he provided musical background for several of the verse readings.

Jeff Rife Videography worked on the video and editing.

God’s Trombones presented engaging retellings of classic Bible stories. The variety of interpretations entertained through stellar renditions and connecting with the audience on an emotional level. The gospel music added even more depth to the latter. Black History Month received a wonderful commemoration from Burlington County Footlighters.   

The Mountaintop at the Dragonfly Multicultural Arts Center

Continuing with their celebration of Black History Month, the Dragonfly Multicultural Arts Center presented Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop. They performed this Wednesday night reading on Zoom this February 24th.

On April 3,1968 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (portrayed by Arthur Gregory Pugh) delivered his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” sermon. He then retired to Room 306 of the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. After settling in, he ordered a coffee from room service and worked on his next speech. He would never deliver it. The following evening, an assassin would murder him.

A maid named Camae (Sheleah Harris) delivered his coffee. Their banter led to a rapport with one another. Throughout the night, their conversation would develop into a deep understanding of both themselves and each other.

The playwright chose to balance the iconic image of Dr. King with that of the flawed man. Ms. Hall’s character inspired and led a civil rights movement. He complained about his “smelly feet and holes in his socks.” He also enjoyed whiskey and smoked Pall Mall cigarettes. This Dr. King possessed other character flaws unusual for a preacher. They included a vain disposition and a fondness for beautiful ladies.

Arthur Gregory Pugh captured this heroic figure’s complex personality. After complimenting Camae’s prettiness, he delivered a flirty, “With your face, it looks like you fell from heaven.” He showed Dr. King’s tenderness. When talking to his daughter on the phone, Mr. Pugh described how praying helped him sleep. It “makes everything real peaceful,” he assured her.

Mr. Pugh spoke with subtlety when foreshadowing Dr. King’s death. He told Camae, “I like your sense of humor. Like mine. Morbid.” Later he observed, “I know the touch of fear better than my own wife.”

The burden of leadership wore on Dr. King by the end of his life. Mr. Pugh’s somber description of the murder of a teenager during a march showed how much it troubled his character. As did his frustration with the people who “helped themselves to free color televisions” at the same protest.

 Mr. Pugh allowed the character’s egotism to come through in his performance. He did so in an oblique way when he complained about newspapers referring to him as “Chicken a la King” and “Martin Loser King.” He expressed more overtly when asking Camae if he should shave his mustache. After Ms. Harris performed a Dr. King-style speech, he delivered laconic feedback on her public speaking prowess: “I’m better.”

Sheeleah Harris enacted her character’s contrasts to the well-educated world figure. While Camae lacked erudition and sophistication, Ms. Harris developed the character’s sensitivity and practicality.

Ms. Harris adopted a thick Southern accent for the role. It enhanced her character’s penchant for cussing in front of “Preacher King.” Ms. Harris’ embarrassment opposite Mr. Pugh’s laughter added a catharsis to the drama. She delivered a memorable “sheeeoooot” when the character tried to disguise her crassness.   

Like Mr. Pugh’s character, Ms. Harris’ contained more depth than its exterior suggested. She possessed an inner toughness. Mr. Pugh questioned whether Malcolm X’s support of violence had prevented him from entering heaven. She replied with a swift, “Malcolm X didn’t drink, smoke or cheat on his wife.”

Not the playwright’s purpose, perhaps, but Ms. Hall’s text refuted the notion that a person shouldn’t meet someone she admires. Despite Mr. Pugh’s solid enactment of Dr. King’s flaws, Ms. Harris showed how Camae still respected the person. In the penultimate scene, both characters expressed their deepest thoughts to one another. Ms. Harris delivered a gripping monolog in which she expatiated on her regard for Dr. King. She poignantly described her admiration for his strength to love those who hated him.

A drama containing only two characters puts pressure on the actors to carry the show. Both Mr. Pugh and Ms. Harris met that challenge spectacularly. Although limited by the Zoom platform, they created the illusion of two people together in a room engaging in a serious conversation for 90 minutes. Catherine LaMoreaux’s reading of the stage directions set the mood.

Ms. Harris speculated on the loss of Dr. King with tenderness. “You won’t feel the hurt. The world will,” she said. “The baton” has passed on to the next generations of civil rights leaders. Mr. Pugh’s powerful depiction of Dr. King and Ms. Harris’ expression of Camae’s regard for him showed how much that hurt still endures.

Dragonfly’s fans should note that their next reading will occur on a Tuesday NOT a Wednesday. The company will reprise its performance of Little Women on Tuesday, March 2nd. The Edison Arts Society will host this event.            

Rachel Presented by the Dragonfly Multicultural Arts Center

The Dragonfly Multicutural Arts Center honored Black History Month this February 17th. The company did so through a show significant for both its historical and its theatrical value. Dragonfly performed a reading of the first play written by an African American to be produced in the United States. The event took place via Zoom and Facebook.

Dragonfly Executive Director Catherine LaMoreaux’s opening remarks provided viewers with the show’s context. Angelina Weld Grimké wrote Rachel in 1916. A desire to educate her audience about racial conditions in the United States inspired the work. The playwright submitted it to the Drama Committee of the NAACP. It became the first American theatrical production to feature all African American cast members.

Rachel’s tone could be compared to that of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. One could describe it as a melodrama, but the underlying premise gave the work a realistic edge.

Rachel brought viewers into the Loving household. They seemed a typical early twentieth century American family. Mrs. Loving (played by M. Drue Williams) worked odd jobs as a seamstress. Her son Tom (Nathaniel Tomb) played quarterback on the school football team. Her teenaged daughter Rachel (Amanda S. Padilla) loved children.

During their evening together, Mrs. Loving became melancholic. The children inquired why. Her response would change their lives. She revealed that on the same night ten years prior: “Christian people in a Christian land” lynched both their father and half-brother.

Tom displayed incipient signs of bitterness. Rachel began doubting her religious faith. She even questioned her desire to raise children. African American children grew up “just for that?” She asked her mother.   

Shortly after, a seven-year-old child, Jimmy (John Randall) moved in with the Lovings. Rachel became his surrogate mother. She also gained the affections of family friend, John Strong (Abraham Ntonya). Both did little to ameliorate Rachel’s increasing disillusionment with the society around her.

Amanda S. Padilla delivered a riveting performance as Rachel. With buoyancy and enthusiasm, Ms. Padilla showed the character’s positivity along with her passion in caring for young children. As the show progressed, she displayed the devastating impact of living in a racist society.

One of the show’s most powerful scenes featured Jimmy and Rachel. Mr. Randall described a group of kids throwing rocks at him while shouting a racial epithet. He asked Rachel why they did. Ms. Padilla attempted to explain. Her difficulty showed that the incident affected her more than him.

Ms. Padilla delivered a passionate monolog during the third act. With lachrymose eyes she related how the trauma of racism had affected her soul. “We are all cursed by the white man’s prejudice,” she said. “In a year or two Jimmy will be made old by suffering.”

Nathaniel Tomb also showed the effect of bigotry on his character. Despite graduating from college as an electrical engineer, no one would hire him. Mr. Tomb’s facial expressions and vocal inflections showed Tom’s increasing resentment. When Mrs. Loving told him not to lose his faith in God, he replied that he’d “try” to believe again.   

Abraham Ntonya played the pragmatic John Strong. When asked how he was doing, Mr. Ntonya replied “I’m always well.” A college graduate, his race precluded him from gaining suitable employment. The lack of options forced him to become a waiter. Mr. Ntonya captured John’s practicality. He enthusiastically described working into the position of head waiter. He expatiated on the perquisites of his job. For one, his former college classmates tipped him well. “They see it as philanthropy,” he said. When Rachel questioned him on the merits of his career, he dispassionately stated, “I tried your way. Mine is the only sane one.”

M. Drue Williams portrayed the family’s matriarch. Ms. Williams showed her character’s steady resolve while coping with loss and suffering. Her weary description of feeling older than her 60 years stirred empathy. As did her efforts to keep her children rooted in their faith while living in a “white Christian country that sets its curse upon motherhood.” In a moving scene she commented on Jimmy’s resemblance to her departed son, George. “If God hadn’t relented a little in giving me back my boy.”

Anna Paone read the stage directions. Catherine LaMoreaux served as the show’s technical director. Nathaniel Tomb’s cat made an uncredited cameo.

Grimké’s portrayal of Rachel’s development served as a unique type of bildungsroman. It provided the audience with an understanding of a young woman’s coming of age not under tragic circumstances, but under normal circumstances that happened to be tragic for her because of her race. Ford Madox Ford opened his 1915 novel The Good Soldier with the words: This is the saddest story I ever heard. One wonders if he still would have written that had he seen Rachel first.   

A replay of Rachel is available on the Dragonfly Multicultural Arts Center’s Facebook page.

Next week Dragonfly will continue commemorating Black History Month. On Wednesday February 24, the company will present Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop. It will feature Sheleah Harris and Arthur Gregory Pugh. The performance will be broadcast via Zoom. Those interested in watching must preregister at DragonflyArtsNJ@gmail.com.

All About Eve at the Dragonfly Multicultural Arts Center

The Dragonfly Multicultural Arts Center took audiences behind the curtain to expose the alternate side of theatre. For their February 10th, Wednesday night reading, the company used a virtual arena to present the radio play version of All About Eve. The audience warmed up to this story quick.

In the preliminary situation, Margo Channing (played by Ann Grippo) had conquered theatrical stages as a sought-after actress. Playwright Lloyd Richards (Thom Boyer) tailored his lead roles specifically for her. Margo’s love interest, Bill Sampson (Nathaniel Tomb), prepared to direct his first Hollywood movie. A loyal maid, Birdie (Susan Roberts), loyally served her. In addition, Lloyd’s wife Karen (Susan Holtz) introduced her to a fan who had followed Margo’s latest show across the country: a young woman named Eve (Shauni Ramai).

Quite a pleasant backdrop. But a trap opened up underneath these given circumstances. Margo missed the cues that Eve didn’t simply aspire to meet her idol: she longed to be her idol. Aside from acting as Margo’s assistant, her focus shifted to seeking the limelight. Eve took the stage as Margo’s understudy. She tried to strike up a relationship with Bill. The dialog she used to open up to critic Addison DeWitt (Noah Stanzione) didn’t mask her ambitions.

With this in the backdrop, Margo confronted her most challenging role yet: playing an “ageless” ingenue both on and off the stage.                

Dragonfly’s production team used the radio play script of All About Eve for this performance. They still allowed the audience to watch the actors play their roles on both the Zoom and Facebook platforms. The cast showcased excellent costuming. Noah Stanzione used a jacket, open shirt and a cravat to accoutre the ambitious critic, Addison DeWitt. Ann Grippo varied her attire nicely for Margo Channing. She wore a robe with a towel on her head when in the character’s dressing room. For her public persona, she wore a fashionable jacket and scarf that suited the character.    

Shauni Ramai’s character said, “My heart is in the theatre.” From Ms. Ramai’s performance, one would surmise that the role became the actor. Ms. Rami brought her signature enthusiasm to this performance. She burst with joy to reflect her character’s thrill when meeting her idol. At the show’s conclusion, Ms. Ramai delivered an animated acceptance speech.  

The Eve character gave Ms. Ramai the opportunity to play an oblique figure. With deadpan diction, Susan Roberts explained to an incredulous Ann Grippo that Eve was “studying her as if she were in a play” or “a blueprint.”

Ms. Ramai enacted the character’s ruthlessness. While trying to woo Margo’s love interest, she spoke with a seductive tone that contaned a hint of malice in it. Her malevolent eye roll when blackmailing Susan Hotz’s character expressed Eve’s mercilessness.

Ms. Rami employed her talent for non-verbal expression in other creative ways. When lying to Addision about Eve’s past, she flinched. During the same scene, she also performed an authentic impersonation of Noah Stanzione’s character.

It’s always interesting to watch an actor portray another actor. Ann Grippo accepted the challenge of playing aging starlet, Margo Channing. Nathaniel Tomb’s character described her as a “hysterical screaming harpie.” Ms. Grippo brought that temperamental personality to the Zoom and Facebook platforms.

At times, Ms. Grippo’s performance could draw comparisons with Faye Dunaway’s interpretation of Joan Crawford from Mommie Dearest. Her dramatic delivery of her dialog, the use of the martini glass prop and her longing for Bill “to love (her) and not Margo Channing,” captured the personality of this high-strung character. Ms. Grippo allowed Margo’s frustrations over her own aging coming into conflict with the ageism in the industry to project in her voice.    

Ms. Grippo showed Margo’s passions controlling her during an argument with Lloyd. Ms. Grippo and Thom Boyer made this one of the show’s most memorable scenes. Mr. Boyer delivered the cryptic riposte, “It is time the piano realizes it has not written the concerto.”

While familiar with the 1950 Hollywood film, the performers didn’t study it prior to the show. The actors presented their own interpretations of the characters. Through his haughty accent, Nathaniel Tomb showed Bill’s egotism. Noah Stanzione’s diction expressed Addison’s cynicism. Susan Holtz also selected a solid accent and used well thought out vocal inflections for Karen.

Anna Paone performed the play’s introductory announcements. Catherine LaMoreaux managed the sound effects. Laura Paone portrayed the Operator, the Waiter and Miss Caswell.  

All About Eve showed that cynicism, intrigue and skullduggery can take place in theatre. The performers at the Dragonfly Multicultural Arts Center showed the audience just how entertaining it is to watch it.

To honor Black History Month, Dragonfly will present excerpts from Angelina W. Grimke’s Rachel. This drama was the first play written by an African American to be produced in the United States. This reading will take place at 8:00 PM on February 17th. For more information, please consult the Dragonfly Multicultural Arts’ Facebook page.    

Nescience Presented by The Masquerade Theatre Company

The Masquerade Theatre presented the inaugural performance of their New Works Series this February 5th. To provide “a platform for contemporary artists to present new and thought-provoking pieces that help us explore our humanity,” the production team selected Beatrice Alonna’s Nescience.

Ms. Alonna called the piece a “a comedy that presents a serious subject” during the talk back. The playwright expatiated on that premise in the playbill. She described Nescience as:

…a compilation of stories that surround the world-wide epidemic of stereotypes…Nescience the word could be defined as a lack of knowledge, or ignorance. These instances presented are surrounded around the nescient conclusions made by the human race.

When researching the play, Ms. Alonna asked people if they’d been stereotyped. “Everyone I asked had a story,” she said. When constructing the dialog, she decided not to present each narrative from the perspective of the person who shared it with her. She made this artistic choice in order to “express the truth in the fact that everyone is often misrepresented.”  

The play followed a ten-scene structure. Each vignette contributed to the larger story. Ms. Alonna credited the Masquerade Theatre’s production team for aiding with the sequencing.

Unlike Masquerade Theatre’s other virtual performances, they pre-recorded Nescience for broadcast. It allowed Ms. Alonna, who also directed the play, to incorporate outdoor scenes into the show. It also facilitated the popping up on screen of text messages the characters sent to one another.  

Recording the show beforehand also allowed Tommy Balne to work his technical magic. He produced a gripping video montage for Grace Crosby’s solo performance of “Scream.” Ms. Crosby wrote, sang and accompanied herself on acoustic guitar for this folk-rock piece.

When Ms. Alonna presented the song to the show’s producers, it moved Megan Knowlton Balne. She said that she’d listened to it “a couple hundred times.” Tommy Balne compared it to a 1960s protest song. Its inspiration led to Mr. Balne’s most powerful video work yet.  

Those interested can watch Ms. Crosby perform the song sans Mr. Balne’s visuals on YouTube at:  https://youtu.be/MhnCNvUauOc.

Nescience would serve as a good educational tool for grammar school students. In several scenes, young actors Icesis Gonzales-Hughes, Isaiah Milton, Aniyah Poole and Giovanni Ramos portrayed schoolchildren. Based on comments in the Crowdcast chat, Abra Watson, the actress who played their teacher, Miss Mahogany, became a fan favorite.

The classroom setting served as an effective symbol of the necessity of educating society about stereotyping. Ms. Watson’s comedic portrayal of Miss Mahogany captured the subconscious misconceptions people carry. The playwright showed how the students recognized the biases that she didn’t know she had.  

Ms. Alonna presented an outstanding twist on stereotypes in “The Microaggression.” Performer Miles Arthur sat down on a bench next to a woman (played by Leah Cohen). Ms. Cohen politely smiled at him and resumed looking at her phone. He nervously called the police. She confronted him for assuming her dangerous.

Perhaps in a first for theatre, a playwright incorporated a game show into the performance. Miss Mahogany fielded questions from the host (Emily Little) regarding her understanding of stereotyping.      

Nascience included a variety of musical material, as well. In addition to Ms. Crosby’s powerful song, the entire cast performed opening and closing musical numbers. Hip Hop fans would enjoy Natacha DeCastro, Icesis Gonzales-Hughes and Aniyah Poole performing together on “Mixed.”  

The show’s other cast members included Hannah Hanselman, Ishanna Rodriguez and Isaiah Showell. Prince Slomo and Simon Hamilton managed the music productions.  

After the show, audience members asked the performers how the show impacted them. Abra Watson replied, “It made me look at myself…I don’t think we examine ourselves as being the perpetrators of stereotyping.”

Nescience showed that people of different faiths, cultures and ethnicities have more commonalities than differences. For individuals to recognize that, as Ms. Alonna and Ms. Watson noted, “It starts with a conversation.” One hopes that Ms. Alonna’s work will inspire people to have those discussions. The enthusiasm that came through in the Chat comments gave reason for optimism that they will.

The Masquerade Theatre’s website contained the following thoughts from Ms. Alonna:

It is extremely interesting to me that such a controversial topic could be found humorous, but Nescience the play does just that, the comedic take on racial stereotypes allows the human race to open their eyes to how they see other people. This production is truly an experience that could very well be an aid to ending the epidemic. Compiling these stories together in a creative way has taught me a lot; and I pray that some of these truths can be presented in a way they can serve as a revelation to the cultures that experience it.

Nescience runs virtually through the Masquerade Theatre until February 7th.  

Little Women an Old-Time Radio Drama Based on the Book by Louisa May Alcott Presented by the Dragonfly Multicultural Arts Center

The Dragonfly Multicultural Arts Center transported their audience back to the mid-nineteenth century through an early twentieth century medium this February 3rd. They did so in the form of a twenty first century rendition of a radio show broadcast. Dragonfly presented an engaging version of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved bildungsroman Little Women via Zoom and Facebook.

As with all Dragonfly “old-time radio shows,” the company opted not to show their audience a blank screen. They allowed spectators to watch the actors perform live. The latter leveraged the set-up to showcase their histrionic prowess.

The show introduced theatregoers to the March family. Jo (played by Shauni Ramai) harbored an interest of becoming a writer. She unwittingly became the love interest of Laurie (Nick Endo). Meg (Anna Paone) pursued a traditional family life after Mr. Brook (Thom Boyer) sought her affections. Amy (Laura Paone), the pseudo-intellectual of the group, displayed a fondness for malapropisms. Beth (Justine D’Souza) rounded out the quartet of siblings.

The young ladies’ mother, Marmee (Monica Shah) encouraged her daughters to pursue happiness. Their Aunt March (Catherine LaMoreaux) tempered them. The two performers played these oppositional roles perfectly. Ms. Shah always spoke with a soothing, ethereal voice. Ms. LaMoreaux delivered her lines with the sternness of a drill sergeant.

During an exchange between Laurie and Jo, Nick Endo’s character informed Shauni Ramai’s, “You’re on fire.” Ms. Ramai’s performance made it difficult to determine whether Mr. Endo referred to the role or the person playing it.

Shauni Ramai shows an extraordinary ability to communicate her characters’ feelings through non-verbal means. Ms. Ramai exercised this skill throughout her performance as Jo. When discussing Jo’s corresponding with Professor Baer (Nathaniel Tomb) “a lot,” her mouth twitched slightly to express her interest in him. During a conversation with the professor, Ms. Ramai allowed a bright smile to develop on her face as she described Jo’s love of writing prose.

Ms. Ramai displayed the same aptitude when speaking the dialog. She spoke the show’s funniest line. When catching Mr. Boyer’s character wooing Anna Paone’s, she observed: “Aunt March, John Brook is acting dreadfully and Meg is liking it!” She also captured the character’s ambivalence over rejecting Laurie’s advances. Ms. Ramai’s tone showed Jo’s disappointment that he failed to contact her while traveling through her new home, New York City.        

Both Ms. Ramai and Anna Paone both delivered heartrending performances when discussing Beth’s illness. Justine D’Souza’s acceptance of Beth’s condition added to these scenes’ emotional impact.

As with previous radio shows Dragonfly presented, they broadcast authentic commercials. For this show, Thom Boyer’s smooth baritone promoted Lux Toilet Soap.

Two actors stepped in to play key roles just prior to the virtual call for “places.” Nick Endo volunteered to perform the Laurie character. Mr. Endo explained that he’d never done a cold reading under these circumstances. Even with his eleventh-hour entry into the cast, Mr. Tomb composed his own melody for a song he performed in a German accent.

Susan Roberts and Craig Mayer completed the cast. The former played Hannah and the servants; the latter portrayed Mr. Lawrence.

As Meg, Anna Paone observed, “Love and tears go very close together.” Dragonfly’s rendition of Little Women both moved and entertained the audience by showing them how much. The company posted a recording of the performance on their Facebook page.

The Dragonfly Multicultural Arts Center’s upcoming programs will appeal to a variety of audience tastes. In addition to their regular Wednesday readings, they have scheduled plays for both theatrical fans and history afficionados.

In honor of Black History Month, they will present Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop on February 24th. The latter depicts a fictitious account of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the evening before his assassination. On March 10th, they will present Tennessee Women: a story regarding Volunteer State suffragists. They last brought it to the stage in 2020 to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of women’s enfranchisement.