Five reasons to treat yourself to a ticket to see Dominique Morisseau’s Paradise Blue at Signature TheatrE
by D. Malik
Note: There may only be five reasons below (Sam made it a thing), pero like I could probably come up with at least 68...
1. Dominique Morisseau's Writing. If you’ve never been to the theater and you want an entry point, Dominique will usher you in with her expert storytelling. It’s gripping, It’s quick. It slaps you in the face like your Nana when you try to talk back. J. Alphonse Nicholson, who plays the titular character Blue like a young Denzel Washington ready to take on any part, told me "this is a real story, about real people, about real issues that everyone can relate to." I agree.
2. Keith Randolph Smith. This wizard of an actor graces the stage with the power to shift an entire audience from tears of laughter to the singular teardrop of deep unresolved pain in a matter of seconds. Come and watch him dole out wisdom like your uncle. As Keith told me: the play is “Love. What it asks. What it costs. What gets in the way.”
3. Sweet Potato Pie or Pumpkin? Now I don’t want to go starting any war on which pie (sweet potato) reigns supreme because it’s not even about that. Just know that besides the many references to that good soul food, you’re also being served up a spectacularly brilliant performance by Dear Evan Hansen's Kristolyn Lloyd as Pumpkin, who is full of surprises that you won’t want to miss.
Photos: Joan Marcus
4. Simone Missick. The Luke Cagestar graces the stage live and direct as a widower from New Orleans who claims to have shot her husband. Sign me up again...and again...and again. I think the magic words are "please and thank you". Oh, and Sweet Potato Pie. She's magnetic AF!
5. Themes on themes on themes. Director Ruben Santiago-Hudson stages a wonderful play in what seems like a wrestling arena, with the audience on both sides of the stage. Pretty cool....especially since the play tackles themes like gentrification and the historic sounds of Jazz.
Sorry, Sam...but I gotta throw in a 6th reason.
6. Francois Battiste. He brilliantly brings “P-Sam” to life, a drummer with a dream who explores his fair share of shoulda/coulda/wouldas. You don’t want to be like him and miss out on this dream of a show.
In Paradise Blue, the actors are the band. Dominique is the composer. Ruben, the conductor. And, we, as the lucky audience, are #blessed to have a seat for the ride.
Runs through June 17.