The Kitchen Witches

Kitchen Witches
The Kitchen Witches
Out of Box Theatre
through May 21, 2016

Caroline Smith wrote this one about a couple of supposedly adult women who get involved in a TV program, and how things evolve in the process.

Directed by Jeffrey Bigger, the scenes take place on a neat set designed by Wally Hinds. When the show starts we meet a chef named Babcha. While that may mean Grandma in Polish, she isn’t quite there yet; as her son, Stephen (Dylan Parker Singletary), is the director for the show and is single. Of course, as a typical yenta, Babcha wants to hook him up and keeps trying to do so.

Babcha is played to the hilt by Betty Mitchell. She has this persona which may have some secrets she’d prefer not to publicize. But, as life would happen, Isobel (Pat Bell) shows up. Izzy was a classmate and former BFF, but some things have happened in their lives and a certain amount of rough ground has to be covered to get through to renewing a good relationship.

We’re treated as if we were sitting in on an actual production, with Ryan LaMotte moving the camera around, and the director holding up the Applause sign at appropriate times, and the two lady chefs dealing out their recipes for food, and some other things, as they go through the show.

Did I tell you the show was about to be canceled, and the interaction twixt Izzy and Babcha is what saves it and improves it’s ratings? Personally, I would give it a good rating; as it is a lot more fun than watching politicians selling their wares to the unwary among us.

The show may not have always won great critical acclaim in some venues, but it does have an underlying message that emerges in Act II, and this production is spot-on. It’s one the audience will really eat up. Pun intended. More info and tickets at OutOfBoxTheatre.com


Born for This, the BeBe Winans Story

Born for this
Born for This, the BeBe Winans Story
Alliance Theatre
through May 15, 2016

There may a book out titled Born for This, but this one is not based on that work. It is an autobiography by BeBe Winans of his life up to now. Born in Detroit, he was one of 10 children, and his family was deeply into religion and singing praises. He was always wanting to sing and had some problems vis-a-vis four of his brothers who had started a singing career as The Winans.

Their father was pretty rigid in his beliefs and attitudes, but always was a source of encouragement. When they were teenagers, Benjamin (a/k/a BeBe) and his sister Priscilla (a/k/a CeCe) got their first big break when they auditioned to go on before the cameras as backup singers for the televangelist programs, The PTL Club; which were the business of Jim and Tammy Fay Bakker. They wound up moving down to North Carolina where they lived and worked on the Bakker properties.

The play relates a lot of the stresses of those days, when many who raised their hands to praise The Lord, meant Their Lord, not whoever worried about Black folks, then when CeCe decided it was time for her to marry, and when BeBe left the PTL Club to follow his own dreams. It’s not fiction, inasmuch as we all know that life is what happens as you wait for your plans to work out.

This show was written by BeBe in collaboration with Director Charles Randolph-Wright. The 17 players go through many numbers composed by BeBe, with great costume changes, a wonderful set which easily morphs, and terrific singing, and a live musical combo.

Most of the comedy comes from Kirsten Wyatt who plays Tammy Faye. Juan Winans plays Bebe while Deborah Joy Winans plays CeCe. In Act II you also meet Kiandra Richardson who comes on as Whitney Houston, and she also has great pipes. Unless you are deeply into the more than 2 dozen numbers sung by the majority of the cast, you may not recall any of the lyrics nor melodies. But, that’s the situation with many genres in the music world.

But the story remains center stage and it’s all about family. The family you grow up in, the family you create, the family that later develops and the pluses and minuses of every step along the path. The show plays in the theatre at Woodruff Arts Center, and for more info check it out at AllianceTheatre.org


Stones in His Pockets

Stones in pockets
Stones in His Pockets
Arís Theatre
through May 22, 2016

Arís Theatre is the place to go to for good Celtic productions. They stage their works at GPB’s studios on 14th Street just west of 75-85. This work, by Belfast native Marie Jones, is a very different piece of work, and I should emphasize the word “work.”

Directed by Kyle Crew, there are but two actors onstage. Although they play more than a dozen roles, which requires that they not only know all the lines in the two acts; but quickly change sexual orientation, body language, accents and some slight adjustments to their costumes. A difficult task for those of us who are lucky to remember our postal addresses.

The plot takes us to County Kerry in the 1990’s where an American film company is working on a film where most of the townsfolk are being engaged as extras. The star of the film is a Yank named Caroline Giovanni, who is very into herself and assumes that every man wants her. So she has her security man, Jock, by her side. Things go awry at the end of Act I when they’re all at the Local and a townie, Sean, is attracted to Caroline; except she doesn’t have the same feelings and turns him away. And the lad does wind up as a problem when the Act comes to a close.

In the second Act, a problem comes into focus when the producers and directors of the film want to finish shooting that day, but a funeral is also that day and the dilemma is whether paying respects is more important for the locals than being on camera as an extra for ₤30. And there is some impact on Charlie (Matthew Welch) who is working on a script he wants to get produced, but lacks the contacts to get it green-lighted. Jake (RJ Allen) who is back from a stay in NYC is his friend and cohort and they try to move things along and find answers which will work for all concerned.

The two actors also play a teacher, a couple of assistant directors, some local chaps, the director and a grip. As with The Bard, all may not be clear at the outset but have faith that you’ll figure it out afore the curtain closes. Not much in the props and costumes department, but first-rate in story line and performance. For more info and tickets visit their website at ArísTheatre.org