Night and Day: Wednesday, February 01, 2006
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Jubilee Theatre conjures the Harlem Renaissance in ‘Blues for an Alabama Sky.’
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A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
The Sky Is Crying

By Jimmy Fowler

Now that superstar author Terry McMillan has been sidetracked into explaining how she ended up marrying a gay man, the time is ripe to discover worthy celebrity authors whose work has not been overshadowed by their marital mishaps. Pearl Cleage is hardly obscure — Oprah’s Book Club anointed her novel What Looks Like Crazy On an Ordinary Day years ago — but the Atlanta-based author-playwright-journalist remains something of a jealously guarded treasure for those who find her tales of urban Southern family intrigue addictive. With her intricately woven portraits of the ways women support, betray, and generally inspire one other, she was crafting chick-lit before the marketers hatched its label.

Jubilee Theatre is now reviving a 10-year-old Cleage script that bypasses contemporary relationship complexities for a more historical look at the way cultural movements define and sometimes trap the individuals within them. Blues for an Alabama Sky received its world premiere at Atlanta’s prestigious Alliance Theater Company, but the South serves as a reference point rather than a setting for Blues. A quartet of characters moving in and out of a cramped New York City apartment find themselves clinging to the glories of the 1920s Harlem Renaissance even as the country begins its slide into the Great Depression. Figures from the world of politics (birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger) and entertainment (stage legend Josephine Baker) provide major offstage influence, as a social worker, an abortionist, a costume designer, and a would-be socialite struggle to find their purpose in an unstable world. It’s directed by the prolific Sharon Benge, who helmed last year’s acclaimed Bee Luther Hatchee for Jubilee.

Thru Feb 26 at Jubilee Theatre, 506 Main St, FW. Tickets are $12-20. Call 817-338-4411.


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