"THE SUGAR BEAN SISTERS":
OVER 100 PRODUCTIONS AND COUNTING!
has a colorfully twisted imagination,
a sharp-tongued way with one-liners
and uniquely vulnerable characters who have
no desire to live ordinary lives."
- The San Francisco Bay Times
|(Artwork by Andy Markley, Art 101 Design & Digital Imaging/Studio Theatre, Sacramento, CA)
THEATRE REVIEW: THE HUFFINGTON POST (March 15, 2011)
By James Scarborough
According to Nathan Sanders' The Sugar Bean Sisters, directed by Gia Jordahl for Little Fish Theatre, the world consists of those who
dream and those who don't. Whether the dream is far-fetched -- a desire to be abducted by aliens, redemptive -- a wish to
atone for a crime committed decades before, or just a wish to find a good Mormon husband, it's the will to dream, irrespective of the dream itself, that motivates two sisters,
residents of Florida's Buster Swamp, to soldier on when their present circumstances suggest they shouldn't.
With wishes that loom before the unforgettable characters like Oz's Emerald City,
this comedy rollicks and roils. Tempered, though, with tragic pasts (a lynching, an alleged death-by-alligator) and dim prospects,
it's a dark and brooding comedy. Without missing a beat, Jordahl turns it into a Southern Gothic tale that feels as though
it's narrated by Larry the Cable Guy.
Though much of the plot consists of two women who wait for things to happen, the
time spent waiting (especially for us) is anything but dull. Well-meaning and sincere, not a little industrious, the sisters
are as loopy and set in their ways as Aunt Tillie on TV's Bewitched. One sister, Faye Clementine Nettles (Cindy Shields), wants to escape her past and present circumstances
with passage on the spacecraft that she saw 25 years prior in her father's sugarcane field. The other sister, Willie Mae (Madeleine
Drake), wants to trundle herself off to Salt Lake City to find a good Mormon husband. Complicating all this wishing, hoping,
and praying is the arrival of an unexpected (to put it mildly) guest, Videllia Sparks (CaroleAnne Johnson).
The cast brings these characters to life. The sisters may be off the wall, behind the times, out of their minds, but they're
not delusional. Even though each woman's envisioned
future may be cluttered with debris from the past, each woman understands her situation. As Willie Mae says, "You can
roll a dog turd in powdered sugar, but that don't make it no wedding cookie," The one-line zingers zing; each dream reverberates.
We don't just wonder what happens next, we also root for these three women. They remind us of our mothers, our aunts, our
sisters; good God, they remind us of ... us!
Understand them and you understand yourself. Before long, in that ramshackle house, with our new best friends, we feel like
we know Buster Swamp, Florida. Call them the target demographic for late night AM talk radio programs or fodder for Jerry
Springer, they manage to charm us with their tones of voice, facial ticks, far off gazes (to both the future as well as to
outer space), and, best of all, a sincere and infectious belief in implausible things.
Performances are 8 pm, Friday & Saturday, 7pm, Sunday,
March 27, and 8 pm, Thursday, April 7. The play runs until April 9. Tickets are $22-25. The Theatre is located at 777 Centre
Street, San Pedro. For more information, call or visit www.littlefishtheatre.org.
"A hauntingly creepy delight... lyrically written... a standout... quality play...intriguing...
impressive...wonderful... (a) story of decay, violence and transformation...Li'l Abner meets William Faulkner... (The Sugar
Witch) is filled with weird, surreal, stageworthy dramatic moments and situations...a satisfying balance between gothic horror
-Palo Alto Daily News
|(William Giammona & Michael Phillis in the New Conservatory Theatre production of "The Sugar Witch")
|(AJ Davenport as "Sisser"in "The Sugar Witch" at NCTC)
gothic drama and fiction, southern gothic uses place, irony, and atmosphere
to obscure the boundaries
between the natural and supernatural. But unlike its parent genre,
southern gothic is bound by the
south's smothering ties to a dark social and cultural legacy,
seen in the works of writers such as William Faulkner,
Flannery O'Connor, and Harper Lee.
Sanders, whose eerie drama 'The Sugar Witch' will play tonight and Saturday
at the Theatre Passe Muraille, can add his name to that list."
|(Karen Garrett & Deborah Hurm in "The Sugar Bean Sisters" at Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre)
Theatre Review: "The Sugar Bean Sisters" from the "Florida Times-Union"
Review by Lee McDonald (October 22, 2010)
don't walk to get tickets to see "The Sugar Bean Sisters". This dark comedy about three sisters, who are bound
by a brooding social and cultural heritage, sometimes too reflective of legacies left in southern families, is hilarious and
poignant. It is ridiculous and borders on the absurd but if you are remotely in touch with the dysfunctional relationships
which may occasionally plague families, suddenly you realize the dialogue is all too familiar. The play is written by
Nathan Sanders and premiered in New York off Broadway more than a decade ago and has since been performed in over seventy-five
regional theatres. Sanders, a native of Central Florida, set the cast in the middle of a swamp house built by the hands
of the sisters' father. The sugar cane he tended seems to have a mind of its own and grows continuously though no one
now tends the field. Obviously in this play, you can "raise the cane back up when it's in defeat". The
sisters lost their mother while they were young, but her chair is vacant like much of the unfulfilled longing in sisters own
lives. The genre of a Southern Gothic tale plays up the supernatural in relationship to the natural world; reality is
cloaked in mystery, motives are ambivalent, and good and evil are often confused. The mystery of certain duality is
present as a prophetic voice says, "Sometimes, you can't tell an angel from a devil."
the play is performed in "Black Box", the audience has a considerably intimate relationship with the actors.
ABET Art Director, Celia Frank, has oriented the audience in the cane field. Your immediate impression will be the sense
of smell - the sweet smell of sugar cane. For me it was nostalgic. Prepare for the sisters to take you on a strange
ride which reflects unrealized dreams and missed opportunities, the tender reality of love in the midst of pain, and more
than a degree of imperfection. There is a submerged frustration, anger, and even violence that are often a part of the
southern family legacies which we often prefer not to examine. To be sure this is a serious play, but one that is hilariously
funny and reminds you that many connections to family will push most of us to laugh to avoid the tears.
line reflecting the real tension in the sister's relationship rings clear. "It isn't that I hated you, I just couldn't
ever leave you." -- Much like the past that can not be divorced from its effects on the present and its influence
on future aspirations. As one sister says, they are clearly, "up a creek in a chicken wire boat."
Under the direction of Caryl Butterly the ABET's, small, well rehearsed cast will delight and entertain you.
When you leave, you may suddenly realize they left you with something to ponder. Absurdity sometimes invites a dialogue
with reality, and this playwright clearly does just that.
The show opens October 22 to a sold out house.
Additional performances are October 23, 29, 30, 31 and November 4, 5, and 6. To reserve your seat, call 249-7177.
Click here to read the Florida Times-Union Review on-line
|( Karen Garrett as Willie Mae & Daniel Osofsky as The Bishop Crumley in "The Sugar Bean Sisters")
|("The Sugar Witch" at Rep 21 Theatre, Ontario Canada)
"A tale full of twists and turns and ‘what do
we do now’s, The Sugar Witch has that certain flair, like the Hitchcock films of long ago that we all still love today.
But there’s so much more, hiding just beneath the surface... there is plenty of emotion, that sneaks out every so often with a driving force and an undercurrent of dark calm – just enough
to give you goosebumps at just the right times. The story of the Sugar Witch is one of love and vengeance and we see both,vividly,
throughout the production."
Grace Davis from "Thick Skin Required" (Dayton Theatre Guild production)
THE SUGAR BEAN SISTERS (full-length)
SWEET JESUS! (one-act)
THE SUGAR WITCH (full-length)
LITTLE BY LITTLE (full-length)
DIVINE FRUIT / KUNDALINI RISING (full-length)
HEART IN THE SAND (with Hamlet Sarkissian)
THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF DELLA, THE DWARF
To view "The Sugar Witch" promo clip please click youtube logo below:
|(William Giammona as "Hank" & Kendra Owens as "Annabelle" in "The Sugar Witch" at NCTC)
To view "The Sugar Witch" slideshow presentation please click youtube
NOW PLAYING! CLICK HERE FOR CURRENT PRODUCTIONS!
|(Diane Kylander, Anna Gangai & Marcia Wallace, "The Sugar Bean Sisters", Black Hills Playhouse, SD)
Mr. Jerome Henry Rudes
Mistral Artist Management
49 West 27th Street, 8th Floor
New York, New York 10001
Tel: (212) 343-1910
Cell: (917) 848-0419
|Dona Shiflette as "Videllia Sparks" in "The Sugar Bean Sisters", Clemson Little Theatre, SC)
To view "The Sugar Bean Sisters" slideshow presentation please click
youtube logo below:
|(Paul Ulloa & Kendra Owens in "The Sugar Witch" at Northside Theatre Co., San Jose, CA)