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|A CurtainUp Review
Shakin' the Mess Outta Misery
By Jenny Sandman
Storytelling, music, and dance combine to share the story of a young black girl coming of age. After her mother leaves to become a dancer up North, she's raised by a community of strong, independent women, women who "gave stories like gifts."
In a way, it's reminiscent of Steel Magnolias with its tight-knit community of women who sing, pray, gossip, and bond. Through a series of flashbacks we see the young girl's upbringing, and hear stories about the women and the community.
What we have here is an exercise in remembrance with not much character change or development, and only the barest of story lines. However, each of the characters presented is memorable. Each woman is a forceful personality in her own right, some loud and brash but all of them often funny.
The show features some loud, rollicking gospel numbers as well as more soulful, introspective songs. The women all have powerhouse voices and their singing is the best part of the show.
Despite its overall predictability Shakin' the Mess Outta Misery is touching and the performers' comfortable chemistry translates into a feeling of bonhomie which director Stephen Sunderlin has wisely highlighted.
The production itself is simple, with a mostly bare stage, emphaszing the colorful costumes. While there is some adult content, it's safe to recommend bringing older children. The few small children in the audience the night I attended were fidgety though they seemed to enjoy the musical numbers as much as the adults. Whatever your age, if you like gospel music and down-home storytelling, you can find it Shakin' the Mess Outta Misery at a reasonably priced $15 ticket.
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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At This Theater
Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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