BWW Reviews: Rep's Soaring Production of FLY
The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis is presenting a modern masterpiece with their soaring production of Fly. The acting is excellent, the direction is sharply focused, and the technical achievements are spectacular. I'm probably going to run out of superlatives before I finish this review, so bear with me as I gush on about one of the most amazing examples of "action" theatre that I've had the privilege to witness. Fly is a theatrical experience that pays tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II in a most remarkable way, and it's an absolute must-see event.
After Tap Griot Omar Edwards vigorously taps out an opening salvo, this tale follows former Tuskegee pilot Chet Simpkins, an immensely likable David Pegram, as he receives the medal of honor and reflects back on his experiences training and flying missions during World War II. We're treated to the amusing antics of Eddie R. Brown III as cocky Chicagoan W. W. , who always seems to be strutting, even when he's at attention. We also meet the militant J. Allen, played with gusto by Terrell Donnell Sledge, and Jamaican born Oscar, winningly played by Will Cobbs. Greg Brostom does strong work as the bigoted Captain O'Hurley, and Timothy Sekk and Cary Donaldon shine in a number of roles.
Director Ricardo Kahn,who co-scripted with Trey Ellis, has the feel for this material, taking us to a time when the idea of fashioning a group of African Americans into pilots for a special squadron of bomber escorts was thought to be a "noble experiment". When you combine that idea with the tap work of Omar Edwards, the choreography of Hope Clarke, the sound design and compositions of John Gromada, the startling lighting design of Rui Rita and Jake DeGroot, and the wonderful projections by Clint Allen, you end up with something indescribably good that puts the viewer right into the action on stage. The costumes by Toni-Leslie James also have the perfect period feel as well.
I always ask myself three questions when I'm convinced I've seen something exceptional: Did it make me laugh? Did it make me cry? Most importantly, did it make me think? The Rep's production of Fly manages to do all three, and that makes it winner in my book. Catch it at the Loretto-Hilton through November 10, 2013.