Theater Review: The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin

Eland Relic | Valley Stages | April 21, 2013

Comedy and TragedyThe Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin is a play looking for a solid plot. I found this to be a really disjointed play and the talented cast does their best to make it work. The book, music and lyrics are by Kirsten Childs and the best I can tell it is about a young black girl in the early 60’s and while they remind us that while white people are blowing up black girls in Birmingham churches, other black folks are shouting “Black is Beautiful” while at the same time straightening their hair and coveting light skin. I found the show to be a bit preachy. For me the bottom line of this play is that you should always be true to yourself.

Our lead, Viveca (Kenyata Christina White) had wonderful stage presence and was expertly cast. I never saw her lose her character and she had a good voice. I enjoyed watching her on stage and she had a huge amount of stage time. I expected that she was exhausted by the time the show ended (90 minutes without intermission).

This is a fine supporting cast—a number of performers playing multiple characters. It is one of the strongest ensemble groups I have seen in quite some time. Not one person was weak.

There’s Michael Thompson as Gregory. He’s the boy who lives next door to Viveca and has a crush on her since small children. Thompson, played the slightly dorky Gregory with ease. He portrayed the type of young man any parents would want their daughter to bring home.

Walter Belcher who played daddy had a strong voice and his daddy character only wanted Viveca to be happy and bubbly. We could sense his love for his daughter. On the other hand—his characterization of Director Bob’s Assistant—had me rolling with laughter when he entered with what was one of the gayest characters since the Director in “The Producers”. He was on fire.

DeAngelous Grisby who played mama just had the perfect soulful voice and one song had me thinking I had joined a revival meeting by mistake!

Every cast member in this show deserves to be recognized, I don’t have the space for them all, but I do want to point out Caroline Wagner, who played a number of characters and each with distinct personality and accents. She was great.

There were times when I thought the voices were muffled and–once again—just because it is “LOUD” does not mean it is good. Can we get away from affects of “American Idol“?

However, the choreography by Laurie Trygg was amazing and this cast was so in sync that they made it look easy. It was truly a joy and pleasure watching them perform these dance moves.

The over all look and feel for the show must also go to Michael Eddy and his lighting designs. It is no wonder he is sought after so much, not just here in the Phoenix area but surrounding states as well.

This show is expertly directed by David J. Hemphill with musical direction by Reynaldo Saenz. The music was tight and it was as if the dancers and music were one.

I enjoyed the direction, the actors, dancers and the music, but the play, however, fell short for me.

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