Review Roundup: THE PARCHMAN HOUR at Virginia Stage
THE PARCHMAN HOUR: SONGS AND STORIES OF THE '61 FREEDOM RIDERS runs through November 12 at Virginia Stage Company.
Journey through the Deep South with the pioneers who fought discrimination and paved the way for the future. Adapted from real life accounts of the 1961 Freedom Rides, this play shares these struggles through music that ranges from Bob Dylan to spirituals. This stirring play contains racially charged language and scenes of violence and is recommended for patrons 13 and older.
THE PARCHMAN HOUR is directed and written by Mike Wiley, with choreography by Aya Shabu, scenic design by Dave Griffie, costume design by Grier Coleman, lighting design by David Castaneda, sound design by michael Boso, and projection design by David Rawlins. THE PARCHMAN HOUR is a co-production with Norfolk State University Theatre Company
The cast stars Dee Dee Batteast as Pearl/L. Collins, John Cauthen as Guards/Clansmen, Jonathan Cooper as Freddie, Benjamin Curns as Forsythe, Samantha Fabiani as Mama/J.T. Mulholland, Daniel S. Hines as Elwood/S. Green, Teddy Holmes as James Farmer, Indya Jackson as Jean Thompson, James Keesler as Guards/Clansman, Christopher Lindsay as Stokely Carmichael, Phillip Martin as Deputy Tyson, Jeremy Morris as John Lewis, Meredith Noel as Mimi Real, Wallis Quaintance as Carol Silver, Isaiah Roper as Hank Thomas, Anthony Mark Stockard as Pee Wee, and Ja'keetrius Woods as Pauline Knight. The cast also features Paul Lasakow and Reed Miller.
Let's see what the critics had to say!
Mal Vincent, The Virginia Post: Some of the most potentially dramatic moments just begin to evolve and then are dissipated. It is perhaps best that the staging of the violence is more implied than actual. This allows the audience to draw on its imagination - and perhaps its guilt. If it was Mary Poppins who said "a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down," it was Martin Luther King who suggested that America had to take the medicine - and use it to heal. There's maybe too much sugar here... The ensemble cast, largely from Norfolk State University's theater program, fully deserved the standing ovation they received. While the evening's greatest worth is in its music, this is nonetheless an outing of theatrical verve. As theater, it is a fine evening out, if lighter than expected.
Jeff Seneca, ALT Daily: Roy George should take a great deal of pride in his work as Musical Director. The show had some huge musical numbers and each of the cast members rose to the challenge. They were loud, boisterous and beautiful and each took their turn amazing the audience. Once or twice there seemed to be a slow start, however the performer would soon find their groove and finish out splendidly... The cast of The Parchman Hour is an ensemble of amazing talent.