Powerful “SISTAS” Hits Off-Broadway

Comedy & Entertainment World News – Review by DeAlan Wilson – April 2012

What do you get when you combine five powerful singers, one great story and lots of hit music? You get a new hit Off-Broadway musical called “SISTAS”. And fortunately, I recently had the opportunity to see the show in New York City.

When I walked into the theatre on West 46th street, I really did not know what to expect. Many times I have attended off-Broadway productions to be sadly disappointed. I have labored through poor lighting, bad sound systems, poorly written books etc. all in hopes of finding gems among the rubble. With “SISTAS”, I have found a solid DIAMOND!

“SISTAS”, the new Off-Broadway musical is truly awesome! With an original book written by Dr. Dorothy Marcic, the show takes us on a musical ride of a lifetime. The story is a simple one. Three sisters plus one sister-in-law and one daughter gather in the attic of their recently deceased grandmother to go through her left behind personal items. While they are trying to figure out an appropriate song to perform, in her honor, at an upcoming church service, we get to know all these women very intimately. As they go through grandma’s old records etc. we are taken down a road through musical history highlighting some of the best R&B, Pop, Gospel and Soul music from the past 50 plus years.

Songs including gospel classics like: “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Round” and “Oh Happy Day!” and modern day hits from: Beyonce Knowles, Whitney Houston, Erykah Badu and India Arie are all included in this show.

The overall way in which playwright, Dr. Marcic writes and molds the lives of these five women together in a cataclysmic synergy of spirit is a sight to behold. The performances of all the casts members including Jennifer Fouche, Amy Goldberger, Tracy Conyer Lee, Lexi Rhoades and April Nixon are high caliber for sure. All their voices are simply breathtaking. One number, in particular, performed by Lexi Rhoades who portrays the character “Tamika”, a late teen/early twenty something year old daughter who struggles in a relationship with a young man that is leading to nowhere, sings a ‘knock-the-ball-out- of-the-park’ rendition of late Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing”. Her performance, which brought several audience members to their feet, left us all wanting more.

The show continued to deliver much more as it went on to illustrate many long-known issues faced by African American women throughout history. Covering topics including absentee and runaway male spouses, women’s self-image issues, politics, parenting and so much more, the show touches your heart mind and soul. However, the truly great thing about this show is that playwright, Dr. Dorothy Marcic did not make this show all about simply “beating-up” on the African American male. She has carefully crafted a storyline more about humanity’s self-image. Whether male or female, she helps us all understand our personal lives more clearly especially, when it comes to judging our family members, friends and others around us. Thinking about this, I am taken aback to one great ensemble number brilliantly staged by director, Kenneth Ferrone, in which he creates a wonderful moment by having all the ladies hold up small hand-held mirrors. Looking at themselves, they sing a gut-retching version of the India Arie popularized song, “I Am Not My Hair”.

The show is produced by three time Tony Award winner, Hinton Battle in association with Jenkay LLC., and choreographed by Lauren Lim Jackson.

After the show, I had the opportunity to sit and talk with the show’s playwright, Dr. Dorothy Marcic whose career includes work as a Columbia University Professor as well as being a U.S. Fulbright Scholar.

DeAlan Wilson interviews playwright Dorothy Marcic.

DeAlan Wilson interviews playwright Dorothy Marcic.

During my interview with Dr. Marcic, she was not only extremely warm but very candid about her latest creation. Dr. Marcic, who is Caucasian, says she was first prompted to write this story more than seven years ago when she was approached by a group of African American women who were performing in one of her earlier works. She says they asked her to write something focused on Black women and the issues they considered relevant. Dr. Marcic says she never expected her efforts would endear her to the African American community as it has.

When I asked Dr. Marcic about bringing this show to Off-Broadway, she candidly told me, “One of the most difficult parts was finding the right producers and financing for the show.” She had several offers but expressed that she wanted to find the right combination for this particular show. It was not until after presenting the show at the Midtown International Theatre Festival in 2011 that she says everything fell into place.

My interview with Dr. Marcic also gave me the opportunity to ask her about her inclusion of the one and only Caucasian female character in the show, “Heather” (brilliantly played by actress Amy Goldberger). I wanted to know why she included this great character as a part of the story. Dr. Marcic kindly replied, “Many of the issues faced by African American women are the same for other races. In order for me to be able to bring up many of these issues I felt this character was needed.” (In the show, the character of “Heather” happens to be very happily married to the brother of the “SISTAS”.) Dr. Marcic went on to say, “We White women struggle with the issue of our weight in the same way many African American women struggle with the looks and styles of their hair.” (We all laughed.)

DeAlan Wilson with Cast of Off-Broadway show,

DeAlan Wilson with Cast of Off-Broadway show, “SISTAS” in New York City.
From left: Tracey Conyer Lee, Jennifer Fouche, Dr. Dorothy Marcic,
Heather Goldberger, Lexi Rhoades and April Nixon.

SISTAS is currently running off-Broadway at St. Lukes Theatre located at 308 West 46th Street in New York City. For tickets and show times, visit: https://www.sistasthemusical.com/


Review Posted By: DeAlan Wilson (Entertainment Correspondent / Writer / Producer – New York City, N.Y.) DeAlan Wilson is a freelance television & film screenwriter and TV show developer. His online publication Comedy Entertainment Magazine and www.ComedyMags.com cover entertainment news & comedy. His blog can be followed at: www.ComedyEntertainmentWorld.Blogspot.com