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BWW Review: Rain Pryor Shares Hysterical and Poignant Tales of Her Biracial Upbringing in FRIED CHICKEN & LATKES

American audiences first met Rain Pryor as television's first biracial child on "Head of the Class." Los Angeles audiences can now meet her up close and personal during her new solo play, FRIED CHICKEN & LATKES, in which Richard Pryor's talented daughter shares many of her childhood memories as the offspring of show business royalty, growing up African-American and Jewish in Beverly Hills during the tumultuous years when a biracial child faced prejudice from both sides of the fence. Her fascinating tales are filled with pain, poignancy, purpose, and lots of laughter as she portrays her father, mother, grandparents, and many other colorful characters who assisted her along the way to personal acceptance and adulthood.

At home, her Jewish and white mom was a go-go dancer who met her dad when she was shaking it up in Sunset Boulevard nightclubs. Hoping their daughter would pave the way to interracial harmony in the world, Rain's childhood was split between two cultures that had much in common as well as much that was worlds apart. With her childhood split between African-American and Jewish cultures, she ate both brisket and collard greens, fried chicken and latkes. She went to church, temple, and lit the Sabbath candles as well as Christmas and Hanukkah lights.

This unique blend led to many adventures, told brilliantly by Pryor using unique physical representations and vocal variations for each character, all of whom bring her assorted stories vividly alive. Her message of unity and peace is one that will resonant with all audiences across generations. "I hope my new play will help bridge different cultures and contribute to a larger conversation about what we can learn from each other," Pryor said. "I think my show is timely, relevant and joyful. It shows how humor can cross lines, as racially mixed audiences will laugh in and at each other's worlds."

"Actually, both strains of my mixed heritage have much in common," she explains. "Both Jews and African-Americans were slaves. Both cherish family and food. In FRIED CHICKEN & LATKES, I play 10 different characters and use humor to highlight these diverse influences on my life, and how they caused me pain, confusion and great happiness. In this, I am following my dad's tradition of crossing ethnic lines to bring people together. And telling the truth by using my voice. He told the truth and taught me to do the same," Pryor added proudly.

And I guarantee you will listen to her tales joyously due to her talented stage presence, accentuated as she often makes direct eye contact and even shakes hands with audience members during the show. You can't help but be pulled in to her tales, with characters that most likely will remind you of people with the same attitudes in your own life.

Veteran JWT, LA and New York Director Eve Brandstein, who is responsible for several JWT hit shows, including the current off-Broadway hit Not That Jewish starring Monica Piper which I reviewed when it opened at The Braid, has known Pryor since she was a child. She attended the cabaret show that was the nucleus of FRIED CHICKEN & LATKES when it was playing at New York's famous Actor's Temple Theater. "When I saw the show, which had audiences rolling in the aisles, I envisioned the theatrical piece it could become. Rain and I worked together to transform it into the new solo play that will have its LA premiere at Jewish Women's Theatre."

FRIED CHICKEN & LATKES runs through June 3 at The Braid, home of Jewish Women's Theatre, 2912 Colorado Ave. #102, Santa Monica, CA, on most Thursdays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm and 7:30pm. For tickets and additional information, call 800-838-3006 or visit: www.jewishwomenstheatre.org. Buy your tickets early as most performances in such an intimate setting sell out in advance!


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