BWW Review: THE PUPPETEER at Detroit Repertory Theatre is Excellent Michigan Theatre!
Lately, my favorite thing to do has been to experience new theatre that Michigan has to offer and while the Detroit Repertory Theatre is not a "new" theatre, The Puppeteer playing until March 15th, was my first time attending that theatre. Desireé York's play spans across time from the Harlem Renaissance to present day, where women in one family cut racism's strings and sing their own song. I was captivated by the entire show, especially with Indigo Colbert's stunning performance as the lead who transforms her character through every decade absolutely flawlessly and seamlessly. It's a touching show that moves you and makes you think while experiencing it at this gorgeous theatre in the Detroit area. The Puppeteer is a standout piece of Michigan theatre.
When Constance (Indigo Colbert), a 1920's jazz singer, chooses to stand on her own, not only is her name carried through multiple generations, but so is her determination to find an identity in an ever-changing world. Spanning five generations, The Puppeteer starts in the Harlem renaissance and ends in present day: 1920, 1942, 1969, 1993, and present day. We see how Constance's choice affects the women in her family through the generations, but each woman in their own time have their battles. The women from every generation of this African-American family struggle to overcome the roles assigned to them by society in order to find their way home.
Indigo Colbert is outstanding in her role of Constance/Connie. It can be daunting to know someone is going to be on stage most of the show and then know they are going to play multiple characters, but Colbert executed it effortlessly. My positive impression of her grew as the show went on because it wasn't that she was playing different characters who were drastically different, she was playing character who were related - mother, daughter, etc. - and she defined them so well. Each of the characters that Colbert played were completely different, yet they still had remnants of the past, enough to know they were still part of that family. It was a beautiful performance by her. And, oh! That ending! Those last few minutes of Colbert alone with the audience are worth going to see the production for, but, please, go see her entire performance!
The rest of the cast is rounded out by Aaron Kottke, Jayne McLendon, and Connie Cowper. They all do a fantastic job of transforming their characters. The show is directed by Casaundra Freeman, who I think made wonderful choices with it. Very minimalistic set and props to let the story and acting shine through, which I think for this show was very important and a wise decision.
A little should be mentioned about the actual theatre itself. Entering the Detroit Repertory Theatre is entering the magical theatre of yesteryears and it's wonderful. A small cafe. A gorgeous bar. Ambiance set with candles. Plush seats to enjoy drinks and food before the show and during intermission. The theatre really gives you the whole night out - not just a show - and it's a wonderful, elegant experience. It is one I cannot wait to have again and I encourage you to take in as many shows as possible for the full theatre experience it offers!
It's always good to try something new and the Detroit Repertory Theatre was an amazing experience. I loved The Puppeteer: the acting; the production; the emotions it gave me. It was a wonderful show. Definitely one to add to the excellent Michigan theatre list!
The Puppeteer runs until March 15th at the Detroit Repertory Theatre in Detroit. For more information and tickets, visit www.detroitreptheatre.com.