Review: PRETTY FIRE at Omaha Community Playhouse

Don't miss the final weekend of Pretty Fire.

By: May. 18, 2023
Review: PRETTY FIRE at Omaha Community Playhouse
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It's not often that I leave a show and both feel the desire to immediately discuss what I just experienced and the inability to put much into words, but Omaha Community Playhouses beautiful production of Pretty Fire left me feeling all of it. Pretty Fire, which is author Charlayne Woodard's first play, received wide praise during its first run produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club, earning the LA Drama Critics Award and NAACP Award for best play and playwright. The script follows Woodard as she introduces audiences to three generations of her family through a series of impactful autobiographical vignettes that range from celebrations of love and family to honest and heartbreaking revelation of truths.

With a simple yet effective scenic and lighting design from Jackie Fox, a realistic costume design from Lindsay Pape, and a beautiful score from composer J. Isaiah Smith, the Pretty Fire creative team manages to immerse the audience in multiple locations and times with ease. From Charlayne's birth to visiting grandparents in her elementary years to the final moments of the show, the setting is clear and believable without a single scene change most expect from productions today. It's not flashy, and the simplicity adds to the beauty and impact of the production.

Director Breanna Carodine's Howard Drew directorial debut sets a bar that will take any of her future productions to the top of the must-see list for many in Omaha. While actress TammyRa' Jackson is already a veteran of the stage and an Omaha favorite, audiences can feel Carodine's delicate touch and guidance, and this power duo brings an unforgettable evening to Omaha theatregoers. Jackson, who Omaha audiences will remember from her award winning performance in The Color Purple, delivers yet another award worthy performance in this one-woman show. Taking on the mannerisms, voices and demeanor of the many characters introduced in this production, Jackson shows a range that is not only admirable, but rare. The moments of levity garnered audible laughter, while the deep and at time upsetting moments earned deserved gasps or complete silence. It's clear from the first few moments that Jackson has the audience in the palm of her hand and that they are in for an evening of theatre they won't soon forget.

Pretty Fire is playing at the Howard Drew Theatre until May 21. Tickets may be purchased at the OCP Box Office, 6915 Cass St., Omaha, NE 68132, by phone at (402) 553-0800 or online at TicketOmaha.

Disclaimer: This production contains depictions of traumatic child birthing, miscarriage, sexual assault, racially charged situations and language, including racial slurs.

Production Photography: Robertson Photography


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