Escape the bleak Minnesota midwinter to spend a few hours in the Harlem in the summer of 1930. The dramedy Blues for an Alabama Sky has romance, betrayals, friendship, grief, fashion, and even a little music. There is tragedy in this story of a group of friends living in NYC's large and thriving Black community in the early part of the 20th Century, but the focus is on aspirations and dreams as they strive to make their lives and their community even better. A talented cast and gorgeous design bring this story to vibrant life. See it on the Guthrie Theater thrust stage now through March 12.
The play opens with Angel dancing freely (and drunkenly) after a night of "celebrating" being dumped by her Italian gangster boyfriend, who's getting married. Angel, a dancer at a club, takes out her anger during a show and is fired. She crashes on friend Guy's couch; Guy is a costume designer and openly gay, not an easy road in 1930. Guy's neighbor Delia, a social worker, and friend Sam, a doctor, complete this circle of friends. They're all striving for something better - Delia is working with Margaret Sanger, famed birth control activist, to open a family planning clinic in Harlem, Angel wants to sing in a downtown nightclub, Guy is sending his designs to Josephine Baker in Paris and waiting for her call, and Sam... well Sam just wants to "let the good times roll" after a long day of doctoring. Into their lives walks Leland, a Southern gentleman with set ideas about the way things should be who takes a shine to Angel. She considers marrying him for the stability and security, but when Paris comes calling, she can't say no to living life fully in the way that she loves, despite the consequences of her choices.
|Lamar Jeffereson, Brittany Bellizeare, Darius Jordan Lee,
Kimberly Marable (photo by Dan Norman)
|a toast to Josephine (photo by Dan Norman)
Even though it was written in the 1990s and set in the 1930s, Blues for an Alabama Sky is relevant in its themes of women's bodily autonomy, of the right to reproductive health, of homophobia and racism, of the challenges of love and friendship, of the choice between safety and passion. The celebration of a thriving Black community is a timely selection for Black History Month, with characters that are complex and flawed and lovable and relatable.
Join me and my fellow Twin Cities Theater Bloggers for a special event at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres! Get $20 off the ticket price for the March 4 matinee performance of the regional premiere of the super fun and heart-warming musical THE PROM, and stick around after the show for a talk-back with some of the cast. Find more info in the Facebook event here, and purchase discount tickets using code TCTB1 or by clicking on this link (discount valid for March 4 1pm performance only).