Rarely do I leave a theatrical performance and feel as though I have experienced an alternate reality. I am highly critical of every actor’s decision and nuance, and I spend the show rethinking the blocking of every move and the timing of every line. In short, I’m not easy to entertain.
All of that goes right out the window after I had the pleasure of being in the audience for MetroStage’s Three Sistahs. Celebrating their 30th year, Three Sistahs is an encore performance by writer Thomas Jones II and composer William Hubbard, first performed in 2002.
The setting of the play is Washington DC, 1969, in the childhood home of the Bancroft sisters who have lost both parents in the past two years, and now have returned to bury their own brother – a victim of the war. They spend the course of the play reflecting on the memories of their past and their parents, as well as struggling to come to terms with the death of their brother. What resonates most, however, is the complex relationship they have with each other. Olive, Marsha, and Irene embody the often tenuous sibling triangle that spans time and culture and can be found in so many of our very own lives. Rather than reading into the actor’s blocking, I spent the evening lost in the simultaneous comedic and profound lives of the 3 Bancroft sisters.
This was largely due to the professional powerhouse the trio of actresses represent. Olive, played by Bernardine Mitchell, was arguably the highlight of the show for us. Easily with experience on her side (an Equity member for over 30 years) Mitchell expertly wove a tapestry of comedy and realistic drama, portraying the burden of the eldest child. I will now follow this actress for the rest of her career, which I hope is a long one.
To say that this production was a true ensemble is an understatement, and while I loved Mitchell’s performance, Roz White and Ashley Ware Jenkins made it a trifecta of perfection. I found a sassiness and complexity to White’s middle child (a kindred spirit of mine own) and Jenkins married rebellion with an honest naivety in the youngest sister – a combination that only a true professional could accomplish.What I have failed to mention until now is the artistry and musical genius in the room that night – obviously a credit to original composer William Hubbard and Musical Director William Knowles, but brought to life through the breathtaking talent of these three women. The soul of Three Sistahs is something that I wish would resonate throughout my own house on nights of solitude, as I could guarantee an instant high after hearing a rendition of their opening number, “In My Father’s House”.
Though my hats go off to Director Thomas W. Jones II and the rest of the production team (set design by Carl Gudenius and costumes by Janine Sunday were spot on….) I have to take one moment to credit the entire family at MetroStage. I too have belonged to theaters that have embraced each other as family, but sitting in the house that night it was palpable the love and admiration that this theater has within its walls, and I was keenly aware that magic happens onstage when everything is right backstage. Though I regret it has taken a year to visit the theater, I am thankful that I am able to take advantage now of any show they put forth, as I am positive it will be a great one.
A huge and heartfelt thank you to Carolyn Griffin (Producing Artistic Director) for allowing us the opportunity to get to know MetroStage and witness firsthand the dedication and professionalism which inhabits such a great place.
Our best wishes to the cast and crew for what is sure to be a successful and wonderful run.
Three Sistahs runs until November 2nd – tickets and showtimes can be found here.
1201 Royal Street
Alexandria VA 22314