It is always heartening to see new plays developed for youth theatre, in this case for pre-teens and teenagers.  This is a grant-funded project, so you can be sure that it had much scrutiny along the way, especially because of the topic—racial tensions that develop in a high school.  This is not a subject to be dealt with lightly, and as we are in the South it may be particularly relevant, although no location is mentioned in the play. 

Playwright Bob Inman does a good job setting up the premise and layering the story, though it takes a while to get the main conflict.  A new student, Tasha (Shon Wilson), enters the Drama Club where one of the top student/actors, Emily (Johanna Jowett,) because of various factors, feels threatened by Tasha’s talent.  Tasha is black, Emily is white, and at first this is a non-issue, but when the teacher, Mr. Brady (Mark Sutton), has auditions for “The Importance of Being Ernest,” Emily blows the audition because she thinks Mr. Brady favors Tasha and she won’t get the part she wants.  Emily, devastated but furious, starts a rumor that Tasha got the part because she is black.  This “grenade” sets off a riot at the school.  It takes all the skill and sensitivity of students like Flora (Ericka Ross), the wisdom of the principal Mr. Pettigrew (Sidney Horton), and understanding parents, to recover and get the school back to equilibrium. 

The character of Camera Kid (Jon Parker Douglas) serves as the narrator of the story and video records the action from multiple vantage points, with images intermittently projected on the gigantic screen at the back of the stage.  This is a clever device that allows for exposition. 

I can’t say enough about the consistently excellent direction of Alan Poindexter, Artistic Director of Children’s Theatre.  Here his creative inspiration substantially adds to the success of the show.  Among his touches: black students are dressed in white, white students dressed in black; the cast stands around the perimeter of the stage as other scenes go on, facing out in the first act, facing in, in the second; video selection (maybe a tad too broad in some cases); keeping a consistent tone; appropriate and needed moments of humor; adding dance (as a metaphor for the riot) and music at the right time in the right amount; drawing terrific performances from his actors. 

The show is cast with multi-talented adult actors, and I certainly don’t take anything away from the wonderful ensemble performance, yet I have to say that I was disappointed that age-appropriate actors were not cast in the show.  I’m sure there was a reason for this decision, but it does seem like an opportunity was missed as there are many fine young actors in Charlotte. 

The first act is more balanced and well-rehearsed.  At times the second act is a bit too episodic, and when a major character apologizes it seems to come out of nowhere, though is not at all a surprise. 

Yet, this new play has much to offer, and hopefully with a little refinement will find audiences who appreciate the good work that was done to create it.

Performs March 13 - 22, 2009

Reviewed by Ann Marie Oliva
Ann Marie Oliva's plays have had over 80 productions across the US. She is founder of the playwrights in residence at Theatre Charlotte in North Carolina. Ann Marie is producer/editor of ARTS à la Mode, a website devoted to the arts that includes film and local theatre reviews.


Camera Kid                 Jon Parker Douglas

Emily                      Johanna Jowett

Tasha                      Shon Wilson

Flora                      Ericka Ross

Cassie                     Caroline Bower

Carlos                     J.R. Adduci

Max                        Michael Mittman

Tucker                     Samuel Crawford

Demetrius                  J.R. Jones

Marcus                     John Say

Mr. Brady                  Mark Sutton

Mr. Pettigrew              Sidney Horton 



Director                   Alan Poindexter

Costume Designer                Courtney Burt Scott

Choreographer              Delia Neil

Video Projection Design    Jay Thomas

Stage Manager              Elisabeth Purkey

Properties Designer        Peter Smeal

Sound Designer             Elisabeth Ittoop

Lighting Designer          David M. Fillmore, Jr.

Production Manager         Andy Brown

Technical Director         Jeff Weeks

Costume Shop Manager       Amy Akerblom Holroyd

Literary Manager                Lucy Hazlehurst

Master Carpenter                Andrew Gibbon

Scenic Artist              Tim Parati

Master Electrician         Barbara Berry

Audio engineer             Van Coble, Jr.

Costume First Hand         Marina Arconti

House Carpenter            Jeremy Holroyd

Electricians               Paul Setzer, Hallie Gray, Eric Winkenwerder, Dan Mulder, Patrick

                           Kirby, Jeremy Holroyd

Wardrobe Supervisor        Kehlee Walsh

Makeup & Wig Stylist      Barbi Van Schaick

Production Intern          Robyn Smith


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