Review: HAVING OUR SAY in New Haven

By: Mar. 02, 2016

Tell me more! That's the feeling I had after seeing Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years, Emily Mann's marvelous play about the indomitable sisters Miss Sadie Delany and Dr. Bessie Delany. Most people remember reading about the two women who broke some glass ceilings as they triumphed over the main isms - male chauvinism, racism and ageism.

This play was based on The New York Times best-selling book of the same name. It has been produced at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, on Broadway, on national tour, on television, and now in Connecticut, running through March 13 at the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven and from March 31 through April 24 at the Hartford Stage Company. Even if you saw the show before, treat yourself to it again. The play is wonderful, but what makes this production definitive are the casting by Laura Stanczyk Casting, CSA of Olivia Cole as the gracious Miss Sadie and Brenda Pressley as the feisty Dr. Bessie, Jade King Carroll's smooth direction, and Alexis Distler's impeccable set and video design. This trifecta gives the production total authenticity.

If all you know about the Delany sisters is that they lived to be more than 100 years old, here are things you should know about them. They were two of ten children born to a former slave who became the first African-American bishop in the Episcopal Church in the United States. Their mother was an administrator at St. Augustine's School (now St. Augustine's University). All their children were college-educated. Sadie was the first black person to teach domestic science at a New York City high school. Bessie became second black female dentist. Although they lived a good life with their family on the campus of St. Augustine's School, they were not sheltered from racism. When the Jim Crow laws were passed, they moved to Harlem and eventually became involved in the civil rights movement.

You get to know a lot of this from the play. Thanks to Distler's set and the intimacy of the Long Wharf Theatre, you almost feel as if you are sitting in the Delany sisters' Mount Vernon home and having tea with them. They are neighbors you wish you had. You know their family not just their reminiscences, but by the pictures they show you from their box of photos and the projections on the "attic" of the set. But there isn't a lot of sitting around by the two fine actresses who play Bessie and Sadie. On stage, they prepare a meal and the audience can smell the food as the two actresses chop the vegetables, truss the chicken, and set the table as if they've been doing it together for years.

The timing of this production at the Long Wharf Theatre couldn't be better, what with the coming end of the nation's first biracial president and this year's #OscarsSoWhite with Chris Rock's comments. How prescient are Gordon Edelstein and Joshua Borenstein?

There's more. The wisdom is spot on. "Life is short," says Sadie, "and it's up to you to make it sweet." The humor is relevant, with the reference to "those clowns in Congress." Bessie's remarks, "When people ask me how we've lived past one hundred, I say, 'Honey, we never married. We never had husbands to worry us to death.'" And "I'm just as good as anyone else. That's the way I was brought up," and after a moment adds, "I'll tell you the truth. I think I'm better!" They're both truly amazing women from whom we can learn a lot.

For more information, call the Long Wharf Theatre at (203) 787-4282 ( or the Hartford Stage at (860) 527-5151 (


MOMIX Presents ALICE At Warner Theatre, August 26 & 27 Photo
MOMIX Presents ALICE At Warner Theatre, August 26 & 27

Internationally acclaimed dance company MOMIX returns to the Warner Theatre's Oneglia Auditorium to present ALICE, Saturday, August 26, 2023 at 2 pm and 8 pm and Sunday, August 27, 2023 at 2 pm. Tickets will go on sale to Warner supporters on Tuesday, June 6 at 10 am, and to the general public on Friday, June 9 at 10 am. Visit or call the Box Office at (860) 489-7180 for more details.  

NITE OF LITE LAUGHTER Featuring Jason Alexander Comes to the Bushnell Photo
NITE OF LITE LAUGHTER Featuring Jason Alexander Comes to the Bushnell

Lite 100.5 WRCH announced their 25th Annual 'NITE OF LITE LAUGHTER' will feature 'As Long As You're Asking: A Conversation with JASON ALEXANDER', an evening of comedy, music and conversation with the award-winning star of stage and screen.

Review: NEXT TO NORMAL at Ridgefield Theater Barn Photo
Review: NEXT TO NORMAL at Ridgefield Theater Barn

On Friday, June 2, I had the pleasure of seeing NEXT TO NORMAL presented in the absolute most phenomenal way possible!  The Ridgefield Theater Barn in Ridgefield, CT, has maximized the potential of this emotionally deep and powerful musical!  Directors Matt Austin and Jessica Chesbro combine their strong directing talents with their brilliant set design skills to create an immersive experience that draws the entire audience into the show!  This stellar cast of six first-rate performers brings their characters to life!  The stage presence of all six cast members and dynamics between them all yield authenticity that makes the audience feel the characters’ emotions, in this intimate setting.   The audience was truly moved by this story with book and lyrics written by Brian Yorkey, coupled with the music written by Tom Kitt, as performed by this amazing cast and live band, in this perfectly arranged venue for this show!

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST to Open Summer Theatre Of New Canaan 20th Season Photo
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST to Open Summer Theatre Of New Canaan 20th Season

The Summer Theatre of New Canaan will open its 20th season with the Broadway musical spectacular Beauty And The Beast July 15th.

From This Author - Sherry Shameer Cohen

Sherry Shameer Cohen is an award winning parachute journalist and blogger who is always looking for more challenging work. Her articles and photos have appeared in Connecticut Magazine, Greenwich Maga... (read more about this author)


#repshow# in[i]# ASSASSINS
Kweskin Theatre (6/02-6/17)Tracker PHOTOS VIDEOS
#repshow# in[i]# Dubai's Iconic Frame Show
Breathing Storytellers (5/08-5/17)
#repshow# in[i]# The Secret Garden
ACT of Connecticut (5/18-6/11)
#repshow# in[i]# Horszowski Trio
Music Mountain (6/25-6/25)
#repshow# in[i]# Masters of Puppets
The Legacy Theatre (5/25-6/11)
#repshow# in[i]# The Wizard of Oz
Offsite Connecticut Theatre (8/18-8/18)
#repshow# in[i]# 3X3 One Man Show Festival
Brookfield Theatre (10/06-10/22)
#repshow# in[i]# Fun Home
Brookfield Theatre (12/01-12/16)
#repshow# in[i]# Colosseum Rome Guide Show
Breathing Storytellers (5/08-4/12)
#repshow# in[i]# Arianna String Quartet & Judith Gordon, Piano
Music Mountain (7/02-7/02)

Recommended For You