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BWW Previews: Stage And Screen Icons Phyllis Yvonne Stickney And Jennifer Leigh Warren In SCHOOL GIRLS; OR, THE AFRICAN MEAN GIRLS PLAY At American Stage

Both actors are excited to be reunited with American Stage Producing Artistic Director Rajendra Ramoon Maha

BWW Previews: Stage And Screen Icons Phyllis Yvonne Stickney And Jennifer Leigh Warren In SCHOOL GIRLS; OR, THE AFRICAN MEAN GIRLS PLAY At American Stage


At American Stage now through February 27 is SCHOOL GIRLS; OR, THE AFRICAN MEAN GIRLS PLAY by Jocelyn Bioh. SCHOOL GIRLS is loosely based on a true story that tells the tale of an all-girls school in Ghana and a prestigious Miss Global Universe pageant. A new, beautiful, and talented American student challenges the queen bee and gets noticed by the pageant recruiter. What ensues is a comedy that explores the universal struggles, similarities and differences of teen girls, and the need to feel like you belong.

Directed and choreographed by American Stage Producing Artistic Director Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj, the comedy SCHOOL GIRLS features Jada Austin, Massiel Evans, Siobhan Marie Hunter, Aguel Lual, Phineas Slaton, and Ivy Sunflower.

BWW Previews: Stage And Screen Icons Phyllis Yvonne Stickney And Jennifer Leigh Warren In SCHOOL GIRLS; OR, THE AFRICAN MEAN GIRLS PLAY At American Stage
Photo by American Stage

Two iconic, renowned African American stage and screen actors Phyllis Yvonne Stickney and Jennifer Leigh Warren play frenemies - Stickney as Headmistress Francis and Warren as Eloise, pageant recruiter and former Miss Ghana 1966.

When asked what brought Stickey and Warren to American Stage, they responded in unison, "Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj."

"When he calls you, you know it's going to be challenging, exhilarating, and wonderful," said Warren. "We've both worked with him on different projects. When he calls, you've got to go. What he has done with the beautiful young artists from New York and Florida hometown girls is they're getting to have A real BROADWAY theatre experience by working with Rajendra."

The women said that as industry veterans in the play it has been exciting to see the young cast get to have a unique experience of his process of bringing a script to life and storytelling.

"With Rajendra, you know you're going to have a good experience, you know the process is going to be special. Even though it's a comedy, he brings a depth, something out of each artist that you may not have known you had," said Stickney. "I love a character that stretches me as an artist and something in that character has an uplifting quality."

Returning to live theatre after the two-year pandemic hiatus has been a joy to the actors.

"At the preview, it felt wonderful to see audience members in front of me, not on Zoom or doing a show in a theatre and having it streamed. To hear their laughs, and the ooo's and ahhh's was exhilarating. I'm so happy to be back on stage," said Warren.

"To be back in live theatre, there is nothing like it for the artist or the audience because it is an interactive experience. It's very exciting. I'm extremely grateful to Rajendra and American Stage for bringing us to do this part," said Stickney.

The women said that they really love their characters.

"My character is strict, but not too strict. She loves the girls. That's the biggest thing aspect of her character is she loves and protects her girls," said Stickney.

"Former Miss Ghana 1966 is so full of herself. I love that she and the headmistress get to spar on stage because there is a lot of history between the two. I'm having a blast doing this," said Warren.

Despite it being a comedy, SCHOOL GIRLS; OR, THE AFRICAN MEAN GIRLS PLAY has a huge heart. The audience will feel for the girls.

"You will see yourself in one or two of the girls," Warren explained.

"It's a comedy that's richer and deeper in places. It's loosely based on a true story in West Africa Ghana in 2011. They wanted to be the first to have a contestant in Miss Universe. They did a history, a lineage of one of the contestants that pushed two other girls, top models, out of the running. Our playwright Jocelyn Bioh wrote this play as a 'what if' story. It has a universal conversation about what girls go through - beauty, body image, colorism, racism, how we perceive ourselves, and how we interact with each other. We get the relief of laughter. Enjoy, listen, and learn - that's what's going to happen," said Stickney. "Theatre is an interactive experience and I think everyone will take something special home with them. Are we mean girls or are we not?"

Warren added, "From our past experience when we grow up, are we still mean girls?"

When asked what their favorite part of the process was, the women quickly responded without hesitation.

"The entire thing," said Warren.

Stickney agreed, "The experience of putting together a play from the table read to opening night. It's the experience."

American Stage has formed "partnership with a cause" with Girls Inc. of Pinellas County and found fashion treasures at Queen's Vision African Apparel. SCHOOL GIRLS; OR, THE AFRICAN MEAN GIRLS PLAY performances run through 27, 2022 at American Stage. Learn more and buy tickets at http://americanstage.org/school-girls.




From This Author - Deborah Bostock-Kelley

A twice-published author, multi-time award-winning playwright, magazine writer, theatre reviewer, and newspaper journalist with 30+ years in journalism and business copywriting, Deb was a 2019 Recipient... (read more about this author)


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