Review by Ashli Doeman
Three Sistah’s, a wonderfully therapeutic and moving Musical directed by Buffalo resident Renita Shadwick, is now on stage at the Paul Robeson Theatre in its final week of the season. The production beautifully sums up the amazing art of creation done year round on the Robeson stage.
Shadwick does an excellent job of showcasing that even the best kept secrets within a family will eventually become known. The power of gospel song fully engages the audience as the actors allow you to be immersed in the Bradshaw family drama and roller coaster ride of emotions from sorrow to intense laughter that highlight the issues between siblings.
The stories that unfold are filled with service for this country, struggle and peace that are all currently relatable. As they reunite over the span of three years (this being the third) these sisters share secrets, memories and grief from burying their mother, father, and now their youngest brother who died in the Vietnam War.
Historical references are intertwined throughout as this musical that is set during a period of the 1960’s at a time when African Americans were fighting for their rights that led to Black Panther and Civil Rights Movements and when Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, and JFK were all assassinated and all during a time of war.
During the first act in this unforgettable musical the sisters sing “the storm is passing over” a song that symbolizes the ladies letting go of their grief and clearing out emotional space for their healing. This coincides with them packing up the house that is clutter with portraits, figurines, and letters as they recollect past encounters of their lost family members.
The talents of the three women cast is another nod to this great production and eye that the director has for excellence. Denise Mullen (Olive) is the eldest of the three sisters that bears the responsibility of coming back home to take care of her family, while Taneisha Facey (Marsha), the middle sibling, has settled into a marriage that is unsatisfying who masks her frustrations through alcohol. Danielle Green (Irene) plays the youngest sister, an activist for African American equal rights during the Civil Rights Movement, who unlike her sisters, doesn’t shy away from her own opinions and beliefs.
A bar that resonates from one of the many memorable songs performed “My sister, beloved, my friend/ I’ll bring you a love with no beginning, no end,” describes the care and emotions that the sisters have for each other and the peace and forgiveness in their hearts to let go of their hurt and pain for themselves, each other, and their past loved ones as the second act comes to an end. A comforting and hopeful message delivered to the audience that grief is an emotional phase that will subside because in the end love conquer all pain.
The skillful instrumentation wrapped around each gospel song is led by musical director Frazier Thomas Smith, bass player David Wells and drummer Abdul Rahman.
Every year the Paul Robeson Theatre hosts a Mother’s day special event for the Buffalo community with their closing season production and on May 12 the theatre held a delicious dinner followed by an unforgettable performance to a full house filled with outbursts of emotions and positive reactions from the audience.
Keep Up with Paul Robeson Theatre at www.aaccbuffalo.org