The Black Rep's 'For Colored Girls' is Impressive Revival of American Theater Classic

By Christopher Reilly
In Culture

Human beings are nothing if not resilient. Ntozake Shange’s 1975 experimental choreopoem, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf,” is currently receiving a superior revival by The Black Rep at the Missouri History Museum, where seven fine actresses bring Shange’s poignant and ultimately, uplifting poems about the resiliency of the human spirit to life. In many ways, the play is not just a story of the struggles of African-American women, but all women, and it’s been extended through March 2.

For Colored Girls at The Black Rep Photo by Stewart M. Goldstein

“For Colored Girls” at The Black Rep
Photo by Stewart M. Goldstein

Director Ron Himes has done an admirable job with casting and in bringing the spirit of the play to fruition. The play is a series of poems that deal with being a a woman of color—abuse, rape and abortion—but these subjects concern woman of all races. There’s also a healthy dose of joy, with singing, dancing, connection and love.

Chelsea Draper in For Colored Girls Photo by Stewart M. Goldstein

Chelsea Draper in “For Colored Girls”
Photo by Stewart M. Goldstein

The cast of seven couldn’t be stronger. Marsha Cann, Evann De-Bose, Chelsea Draper, Linda Kennedy, Patrese McClain, Andrea Purnell and Phyllis Yvonne Stickney create a mesmerizing experience where the audience floats along on the emotional river these ladies create; through turbulence, over waterfalls and into calming, languid pools of faith in each other. Each actress has her moment and each of them takes it with aplomb. Purcell’s performance of “Somebody almost walked off wid alla my stuff” is a fine as you’ll ever see, and Kennedy’s tale “A Night with Beau Willie Brown” where he dangles her children out of an apartment window will crush you.

Andrea Purnell in For Colored Girls Photo by Stewart M. Goldstein

Andrea Purnell in “For Colored Girls”
Photo by Stewart M. Goldstein

Jim Burwinkle does an excellent job with lighting and Marissa Perry’s rainbow-colored costumes are perfect, where each character is known as the color she is wearing; Lady in Blue, Lady in Orange, etc. It’s 90 minutes of a classic American theater work, performed exquisitely in a stellar production that is not to be missed.

Patrice McClain in For Colored Girls Photo by Stewart M. Goldstein

Patrice McClain in “For Colored Girls”
Photo by Stewart M. Goldstein

“For Colored Girls” continues at the Missouri History Museum through this weekend with the final performance on March 2. For tickets and information visit, The Black Rep website.

Follow Christopher Reilly on Twitter @ChristoReilly

The St. Louis Theatre Circle Awards—wherein local theater professionals are recognized for their contributions to St. Louis Theater over the previous year—will be televised live from COCA on Monday, March 17, by HEC TV.

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